Where Warriors could be vulnerable, and why their offense is just fine


Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the two-time defending NBA champions as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith


The Warriors’ 11-game win streak ended with a smack from the Sixers at Oracle.

Steve Kerr spoke in frank terms Thursday night, saying: “We weren’t there mentally, and we weren’t there competitively. We got what we deserved.”

There are six games left before the All-Star break. Before the Sixers game, Steph Curry emphasized building momentum and ending this stretch on a high note. The Warriors want to strengthen the habits it takes to win. That feeling still stands.

Hearing Kerr put the team’s performance on blast is memorable. He didn’t sugarcoat anything, adding: “We didn’t respond with competitive desire, intelligence and execution.” Those aren’t words a team will easily forget, especially with another well-hyped game against the Lakers on Saturday.

Game On!

@MuranakaRyota What’s one glaring weakness Dubs need to work on before the end of regular season? #ask Kerith

This topic reminds me of the very first question in the very first mailbag. In what ways are the Warriors vulnerable? The thing they cannot control is injuries. One season-ending injury to a key player could make things go sideways. But an injury is not a weakness.

The place where the Warriors are vulnerable is complacency, also known as focus. Its cousin is force. What this all amounts to are the ways the Warriors can defeat themselves. This roster is so good and so battle-tested, the level of competition they’re facing often will be sub-par. When that happens, it’s natural to let up a little.

The Warriors had a poor game against Philly, but overall, they have not been complacent lately as a trend. They had a win streak building, and then DeMarcus Cousins returned, so the team got a new puzzle to solve. There are things that are making the game feel fresh right now. Draymond Green is healthy. The offense is flowing. Steph, KD and Klay are having nights when they all score 20 or more points.

The Warriors can look back on this time if they have another dip in the season and remember what this feels like. Ups and downs in a season aren’t glaring weaknesses either. They’re moments of human-ness every team will go through.

The next question is a message from Instagram. I removed the question-asker’s name, but here is our interaction:

It was strange to get this question during a big win streak where the Warriors were sometimes throwing down 140-plus points per game. I did a stat check when they came home.

Heading into the game against the Sixers, the Warriors led the NBA in points per game, assists, assists-to-turnover ratio, field-goal shooting percentage, free-throw shooting percentage and blocked shots.

They were No. 2 in 3-point shooting percentage. They were No. 8 in rebounds.

The Warriors’ fan base watched their team win three NBA championships in four seasons. Here are the eye-popping stats from that run: Golden State has a 328-83 (.798) record in the regular season and playoffs over the last four seasons, and the best four-year winning percentage in NBA history. Additionally, the Warriors own the best postseason winning percentage (.759) in any four-year span in NBA history.

That’s extraordinary. It’s a feat that skews what “normal” is, and some fans are under a spell. It can’t always be more ... MORE ... MOREEEE!!!!!!!! to win for all eternity.

The offense is fine, even with Thursday’s hiccups.

@TheSFGiantsGuy Have we seen the last of Jordan Bell in the rotation? If so would he be more valuable as a trade chip than a benchwarmer?

This question came before Jordan Bell started Monday against the Pacers, but let’s touch on it.

To build on my answer last week, Bell is recognizing where he is in the pecking order. He is athletic but undersized for a center. This could be good for his career long term when the league is trending toward small ball. But right now, match-ups aren’t always in his favor, and Boogie and Kevon Looney will play first.

This isn’t the last we’ve seen of Bell in the rotation. Steve Kerr does his best to take care of players doing the work to stay ready. Bell’s start in Indiana was a way for Kerr to throw him a bone and say, I see you and I feel you. Not playing is frustrating. Kerr wants Bell to stay engaged, and he is engaged from everything I’ve seen and heard behind the scenes.

@ValerianRootS I was wondering that since Steph is 30yrs old and wears the #30. Do you think one of his personal goals this year is to Avg 30pts a game? He is super close and it would be an amazing story line.

No. 30 turning 30 is a golden birthday. He’s a special player, and this storyline would be a marketing dream. However, Steph’s goals are team-first. He’s thinking more about a three-peat than his own averages.

Steph could average 30 points per game, and you’re right, he’s close. But that’s not necessarily what the team needs from him. Steph will feed KD or Klay when they’re hot, because they feed him.

There’s a lot of selflessness. He’s fully capable of carrying the offensive load as one of the best shooters the game has ever seen, but it’s also awesome to see Steph, KD and Klay coexist. That’s a powerful trio. Steph likes being a teammate.

Via IG @pdeocampo: Where is next year’s practice facility? Will they still practice in Oakland? Just curious -- thanks for always answering everyone’s questions.

The new practice facility will be at Chase Center so the players have one spot for everything.

If any readers would like a refresher on some of the things going on at Chase Center, read here.

I like to check out the live cam of the construction a couple times per month.

Via IG, @lolalolo37: If you are an invisible woman, which of the Warriors 5 All Star players will you spy on and why?

This is one of the most unique questions I’ve gotten! Right away, Steph comes to mind because I am deeply curious about how he manages his time. It seems like his days are 30 hours long. He fits in so much: training, games, charity work, speaking engagements, family time. He might sleep. It’s unclear.

I want to know how Steph packs everything into his day and gives each thing -- or person -- the attention the moment deserves.

My runner-up answer is Klay Thompson. What is he like in his element, away from cameras and comfortable with his friends? I’d like to know regular-guy Klay better.

High Five

This week’s High Five goes to a new Twitter account called @BookofBarnett.

I don’t know who the creator is, but it’s a good-natured account that shares basketball lessons from Jim Barnett, the Warriors’ color analyst. One of my favorite Jim Barnett sayings is “leapers want to leap,” and that’s Chapter 1 in the Book of Barnett … a book I wish were real.

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.

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