The Golden State Warriors are 4-0 on their current six game road trip–they have also had three ejections in the last three games. Tempers seem to be high and the team’s composure hasn’t been able to hold up in frustrating situations. Head coach Steve Kerr lamented his team’s lack of emotional control after Monday’s win against the New Orleans Pelicans. He said, “We’re getting way too emotional out there, myself included.”
Kevin Durant was ejected against the Pelicans on Monday night after exchanging heated words with DeMarcus Cousins, who also got ejected. The night before, against the Miami Heat, Shaun Livingston literally butted heads with a ref after not receiving what he thought was a foul on him, and got tossed from the game as well. Last Friday, Durant got ejected after making a floater over the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon–thinking he got fouled on the drive–and exclaiming, “Call that s***!” to the ref, who didn’t take to his words lightly.
Playing the Villain
After his ejection on Monday night’s win against the Pelicans, Durant said, “I can’t get involved with that kind of stuff. I’m not gon’ fight nobody, I don’t want to get injured, I love to play, I love making money for my family, so I’m not trying to get suspended.”
The team’s lack of poise is likely caused by them feeling targeted by the referees and–on a deeper level–every team that’s out to get them. This season especially, teams tend to play to the Warriors’ level, at least for the first half. The Warriors find themselves in trouble early in games until they turn on Championship Mode in the second halves of games, leaving opponents behind and shooting them off of the court; it’s become almost expected lately.
But when things are heated early on, teams play physical and ruthless defense against the Warriors. Scouting reports often tell opposing point guards to get handsy with Stephen Curry and bully him around in an attempt to wear him down over the course of the game. The Warriors have a target on their backs going into every game and they can feel the heat themselves. As a result, they feel they’re being treated unfairly when it comes to getting foul calls. Whether that is or is not the case is up for debate. There is merit on both sides; the Warriors have been called for fouls when they shouldn’t have been and they have also received foul calls where there wasn’t any contact. Kerr said they’ve “definitely been complaining too much.” Below is a video of David West that highlights about the tension between the referees and the players.
D.West on the technicals: "We don't start it." pic.twitter.com/7x69wSaUfS
— LetsGoWarriors??? (@LetsGoWarriors) December 5, 2017
To continue winning, the team has to focus on the game, even if they feel that they’re getting the short end of the stick; a championship team has the resilience to push through against all odds.
Durant had only been ejected twice in his career before this road trip–he’s managed to match that total in three games. With Stephen Curry out due to an ankle injury going into Wednesday’s game against the Charlotte Hornets, Durant has to shoulder the weight of the team’s success. He’s stated before that he’s comfortable not being the leader of a team, but he’s going to need to stay composed and controlled if he wants to keep the Warriors’ road win streak alive.
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