Eliminated in 6, Warriors agree: This is not a championship team

LOS ANGELES — As Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr scanned the locker room after Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, his team’s faces showed weariness and frustration.

It happened — the Warriors’ quest to defend their title ended in a 122-101 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, and they’re left with all the questions that follow.

“Honestly, I think this team has finally peaked,” Kerr told reporters after the game. “We’ve been in the playoff picture most of the year … this is not a championship team.”

That sentiment didn’t pop as the Warriors were eliminated, snapping 28 straight playoff series with at least one road win and 19 straight series wins against Western Conference teams — both NBA records.

The Warriors’ 11-30 road record in the regular season is one reason this team lacks championship DNA. Then Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins suffered repeated injuries. The Warriors started the year off and never fully recovered.

“From training camp until now, it’s just the reality that we live with,” Curry said. “We’re trying to be positive and optimistic around what we want to achieve this year … but there’s also an understanding that it’s not enough.”

But Golden State still has faith come playoff time — a second NBA season.

“We’ve done a pretty good job of finding something here in the last month,” Kerr said. “We came close to recapturing what we had, but we weren’t quite there. We didn’t feel like a championship team all year, but we had the guts and guts to believe.”

“No contender believes (you’re done) until you prove you’re not a championship team,” Curry added. “And that’s what it means to get beat in a playoff series.”

The Warriors locker room heading into Game 6 was a stark contrast to their mood afterward. Music is playing from a set of portable speakers. The players danced around. They are full of life. However, they came out of the game with that energy.

The Lakers led by as many as 17 points, leading Kerr to match the Warriors’ largest deficit in the first quarter of a playoff game. They also trailed by 17 in Game 6 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the Houston Rockets. But they won that game by 29 runs.

Midway through the first quarter Friday, something finally clicked for Golden State and the Warriors went on a 23-10 run. But it is not sustainable. During that stretch, they got close to the Lakers, but never took the lead. And by the time they had a chance to make another push, they ran out of steam.

Curry scored 32 points on 11-of-28 shooting, doing everything in his power to extend the series to seven games, but he didn’t get nearly enough help. Donte DiVincenzo was his only support system, and the only double-digit scorer with 16 points. The next leading scorers were Kevon Looney and Draymond Green with nine each.

Klay Thompson scored just eight points, Jordan Poole scored seven, and Andrew Wiggins, who is battling through a left costal cartilage fracture, added six. Even Wiggins couldn’t guard LeBron James with enough force to slow him down.

Nothing else was given to the warriors.

Although the series was ultimately lost for the Warriors in Game 6, Kerr said it was decided in Games 1 and 4 — two tight games the Warriors could have, but let slip.

“No competitor would believe it [you’re done] Until you prove you’re not a championship team. That’s what losing a playoff series means.

Stephen Curry

“I’m sure this team has peaked,” Green agreed with his coach. “It’s not a championship team … it’s not a championship group as it is.”

Green said the Warriors will have to go back to the drawing board this summer to retool and “refigure out” how to return to championship level.

But the man responsible for building Golden State’s championship roster over the past decade, general manager Bob Myers, has yet to come to terms with a new contract.

And like Myers, Green’s status with the team is unclear. He has a player option and told Andscape’s Mark J. Spears that he will take his time deciding his future. But he insists he wants to be a warrior.

“This doesn’t mean our major changes,” Green said. “That doesn’t mean our core can’t do it again … we’re made of champions.”

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