The Warriors, defending NBA champions and owners of a 25-1 record, have found a new motivation in the form of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Milwaukee, an under-.500 Eastern Conference team, broke the streak and beat the Warriors on Saturday after Golden State had arrived in town at 3 a.m. following a double-overtime win in Boston. The Warriors get a chance for revenge Friday at Oracle Arena, where they have won 29 straight regular-season games.
“It’s another game – against a 10-18 team, or 10-17,” Draymond Green mused. “Something like that.”
The Bucks are 10-17 for now but are now the hunted in the eyes of a Warriors team that was irked by some of their antics during the upset win.
Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams, after executing a last-minute slam dunk with most of the Warriors’ starters out of the game, proceeded to look toward the bench. More than one Warriors player reported that he said something to them as well.
“We just felt disrespected a little bit,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. “That’s fine. I mean, I have no problem with them celebrating the win. Just there’s a couple things that looked real cocky, which is fine. I would have been happy to break a big streak like that too.”
Warriors interim coach Luke Walton shook his head a little when asked if he was bothered by Carter-Williams’ antics.
“They were excited,” Walton said. “They played great against us. That’s part of the game. Our guys celebrate all the time out there. But obviously if it offended some of our guys, then I’m OK with it. It'll be one more reason to be motivated to go out there and win the ballgame.”
If Milwaukee is to sweep the Warriors in the season series, it will likely have to do so without leading scorer and rebounder Greg Monroe, who had 28 points and 11 rebounds in the 108-95 win against the Warriors.
Since the win, Monroe has missed two games with a sprained left knee, including a Bucks loss to the cellar-dwelling Los Angeles Lakers.
Thompson had been dismissive of the Bucks after Saturday’s game, noting that the Warriors had missed shots and didn’t get shut down.
Walton said that wasn’t exactly the case.
“They did a great job on us,” Walton said. “Watching the tape over, we didn’t look like our normal selves. They were the aggressors, but you’ve got to give them credit for doing that. Granted, our guys were probably tired from the trip and the grind of the season, but it wasn’t just us missing shots. They had us on our heels.
“They have a lot of length, and defensively they make it tough if you’re not willing to push yourself to making the extra cut, making the hard screen and executing the offense. If you just want to rely on talent and your skill, they can make it very challenging to score against.”
To the Warriors’ players, the game was better remembered for the way the Bucks celebrated the win. A section of their fans wore 24-1 shirts correctly predicting the Warriors’ record after the loss. The game ball was later given away to a lucky fan. Then there was Carter-Williams’ antics that raised eyebrows.
“We were just taking it all in, enjoying the moment with them,” Green mused. “Cool moment. Big-time regular season win.”
Green said he didn’t think the Bucks necessarily knew at the time that they would be playing the Warriors twice in one week.
“But they know now, so it'll be a fun game,” he said.