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Where did the Warriors go? Collapse for Celtics could spark changes for Steve Kerr

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BOSTON — For the first three quarters of the Golden State Warriors’ game against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, Stephen Curry and company looked like themselves. Coach Steve Kerr even said they looked like a championship team.

But then, in the fourth quarter and overtime, everything they had put together fell apart… again.

And now, after a 121-118 loss to the Celtics, the Warriors are 22-23 at midseason and just 5-18 on the road.

“We’re capable, but it’s a matter of execution and being able to sustain it,” Curry said. “There’s another level to reach that we haven’t reached [to] in terms of putting together a total of 48 minutes.”

The Warriors are in full search mode. They have been all season. And so far, they’ve found almost nothing.

They aren’t panicking or showing much concern, at least not publicly. Klay Thompson is resting in your long-adopted mentality of: If we make the playoffs healthy, we can beat anyone.

To some extent, they still believe this to be true. But there’s also an understanding that this season isn’t like any other.

“Last year [we] started 18-2, we had some tough times, but at least you had a segment of the season you could say we figured it out,” Curry said after Golden State lost to the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 15. “We may have had a game or two, but we haven’t had a period where we can consistently say we’ve figured it out. You’re going to miss games every now and then… But a lot of that is self-inflicted or not being able to prove we have the identity we need.”

Golden State can shelve their game against the Celtics under the umbrella Curry was talking about.

For most of their dynasty over the past 10 years, the Warriors have become known for their great third quarters. They set up different versions of small ball lineups which they dubbed “death lines”. The slogan “Strength in Numbers” was well deserved.

But this season, everything feels wrong.

Thursday’s game in Boston had one of their best third quarters in a while, but they couldn’t close the door. Their bench has not been as productive as it was last season.

“There has to be a sense of urgency, but I don’t think we’re playing that way… If you don’t have a consistent level of urgency, you’ll lose,” said Draymond Green after the Chicago loss.

He continued: “I think the point [where we’ll turn a corner] will come, but you have to build towards it. You cannot take two steps forward or three steps back. It has to be a constant build… that constant build hasn’t started yet.”

Golden State is far from the first team with title aspirations to hit the water midway through the season. Just a year ago, the Celtics were 25-25 in 50 games.

After a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on January 28, the Celtics went on a nine-game winning streak. They lost just six games the remainder of the regular season en route to the NBA Finals.

The Warriors will now look to follow a similar roadmap and one they are familiar with.

Two seasons ago without Thompson, Golden State hovered around . 500 before winning 15 of its last 20 games, losing in the play-in tournament.

The Warriors haven’t expressed exactly what’s holding them back. They said they don’t know why they can’t organize good games – or even a series of good decisions, in some cases – together.

Kerr took the first step in trying to find a spark for his team, trading his starting lineup against the Celtics, something he said he will stick with for now. Jordan Poole started in place of Kevon Looney, joining Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Curry and Green.

“We’re past the halfway point and we’re down to .500. Let’s try something different,” Kerr said.

There is still time for the Warriors to meet. And while Curry says he can’t rest on his laurels and hope everything turns out all of a sudden, there’s a level of comfort due to his experience.

And that’s what keeps them from worrying.

“We have a core group that have won titles,” Kerr said. “I have a lot of faith in all these guys. They’ve been through everything together and have had great success. It’s a long road to get through this NBA season… it’s not easy. But I have no doubt that we have enough. And these guys know how to do this.”

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