3 Golden State Warriors to blame for early postseason exit

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors reacts during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers in game six of the Western Conference Semifinal Playoffs at Crypto.com Arena on May 12, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors drives past D’Angelo Russell #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the fourth quarter in game five of the Western Conference Semifinal Playoffs at Chase Center on May 10, 2023 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
For the first time since 2014, the Warriors have exited the postseason before reaching the finals. Here are some players to blame.

Not a vicious tirade about the futile existence of Jordan Poole, not a profanity-laden attack on the poor officiating, just the quiet, unobtrusive thought of: It is what it is. It was what it was.

And what it was, was a 4-2 series loss to a team more athletic, more consistent, and more gelled than they were, a series that culminated in a hard-to-watch Game 6 which the Warriors never got a handle on.

Steph Curry’s heart bled all over that court in Crypto.com Arena. Golden State’s role players gave until they couldn’t give anymore, not under these must-win circumstances, anyway. The Warriors’ series against the Lakers was like a pressure cooker that ticked faster and faster, steam rising, nerves tightening, the tiniest shred of hope still kindling Golden State’s flame until… it was all over.

There was no dramatic explosion at the end of this series, no flashing siren for top-down changes like what happened in the Suns’ dreadful beating by the Nuggets. Instead, just the faint “poof” of a distant dream and two remaining thoughts: It was fun while it lasted. And: If we had been perfect, we could have beat them.

These Warriors players, however, were far from perfect. Here are three people to blame, if you must.

Henceforth, Klay Thompson will never be known as Game 6 Klay. Game 6 Klay no longer exists. It’s just Klay, now.

Thompson ended Friday’s game with eight measly points. He went 3-of-19 from the field and 2-of-12 from the 3-point line; those are pretty lousy numbers, but if you had been tracking his performance all series, you would know they aren’t a crazy anomaly.

The Lakers set out to bottle up Klay from the start, and their defensive strategy coupled with Thompson’s streaky form turned the Splash Brother into just a Brother.

Following his nearly record-setting Game 2 showcase with 30 points and eight 3s, Thompson went 10-for-36 from 3 throughout the next three games.

He hit glass, rim, anything but net on a handful of open looks on Friday, and it goes without saying that if he had made some of those shots, the vibe would have been much different. Thompson was -33 on the court in Game 6, his worst all series, and his defensive game suffered alongside his offensive one.

Whereas Steph Curry has been able to diversify his offensive production over the years, drawing fouls in the paint and getting to the free-throw line when his 3-point shot is off, Thompson’s shot selection more often makes fans — and Steve Kerr — cringe.

ESPN’s J.J. Redick gave a thoughtful explanation as to why Thompson just hasn’t looked like himself this series, one reason being that Thompson may have been hurt the most by the Warriors decision to go to primarily pick-and-roll offense with Curry on the floor.

Regardless, Thompson never found his flow state in this series. Injuries inevitably change players, and it’s downright unrealistic to expect him to be as good as he once was. But maybe he could have just been…. a little less worse?