Donte DiVincenzo’s plea to ‘play like the fearsome warriors’ says it all

DiVincenzo’s plea ‘plays like the fucking warrior’ on target originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Until the Warriors know the extent of the injury to Stephen Currywho will undergo an MRI test on Thursday, they cannot begin to know when he might be back on the pitch.

They have no idea when Andre Wigginswho has missed the last five games with a right adductor tightness, will be allowed to train well equipped for a game.

What the defending champions do know is that four days after their most impressive victory of this wildly inconsistent season, they have fallen back into some of their worst habits.

Poor quality and malleable defense, plagued by deviations from the game plan, occasional indifference and a failure to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of opposing personnel. Turnovers, mostly resulting from high-risk passing in search of a moderate reward and stifling dribbling in traffic.

All of those liabilities were on display Wednesday in the first half against the Pacers, and a second-half rally couldn’t prevent a loss of 125-119.

“We needed more energy”, reserve guard Donte Di Vincenzo told reporters in Indianapolis. “When things don’t go our way, when the calls don’t go our way, there’s a standard game for the Golden State Warriors. The most important message is that we have to play like the fucking Warriors.

If that sounds like a plea, well, it is.

Curry joined the Wiggins on the unavailable roster when he suffered a shoulder injury reaching for the ball cradled by the Indiana big man Jalen Smith. Wiggins was in street clothes, just like Klay Thompsonresting on the second night of a consecutive set.

The Warriors delivered a basketball half that followed their general script. They won the second half 65-51 because they tightened the defense, reduced damaging turnovers, took smarter shots and, above all, played with heart.

“That’s the most important thing,” DiVincenzo said. “We have to have that energy, and when we came out in the second half, we really started that second half playing the brand of basketball that we should be playing. The energy was good and the spirit was good.

With Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, Green Ja Mychal and Jordan Poole and DiVincenzo doing most of the heavy lifting, the Warriors played with an intelligence and determination often missing in the first half.

And, to be frank, that mix of passion and sonic technique was absent for much of the first eight weeks of the season. And it was expensive. It’s why the Warriors have yet to chain more than three straight wins, why their record is 14-15 and why they couldn’t escape the grip of mediocrity.

With two starters unavailable and a third, Curry, starting late in the third quarter, the rotations were completely skewed. Intent and disposition, however, were unified.

“I don’t think it was necessarily about the rotation or who was on the pitch; it was that mind stuff,” DiVincenzo said. “This energy. That was the message for those guys checking the game. When Moses and JK came into the game, they brought great energy. We had a few stops and we got the ball rolling. We just have to close it at the end.

The Warriors shot within three, trailing 122-119, after a DiVincenzo 3-ball with 1:25 remaining, before missing shots on their final two possessions.

“I like how our guys competed together in that second half,” said coach Steve Kerr, who like everyone else was clearly unhappy with a first half that included a second quarter. 47 points for the Pacers.

“Moments like this are a test of your team and your resilience,” Moody said. “To see things go the wrong way, and you can either start pointing and go down or have what it takes to fight back.”

The Warriors dug in and fought back. They played with a similar verve that was driving their remarkable 2022 post-season that came after a lackluster second half of the regular season.

Going back above .500 on this road trip will be tough. Then come the Philadelphia 76erswith the MVP candidate Joel Embid. Then come the raptors in Toronto, the Knicks in New York and the rampage Nets in Brooklyn.

At this point, the Warriors’ immediate future hinges less on who’s on the field and more on how they approach the game.

“Getting Klay back is going to be great,” DiVincenzo said. “But, ultimately, just this move. Swing the ball. Pass the ball when you want to pass it and not just when you have to.

“But stay aggressive. Not just looking to pass all the time, and looking for Klay or looking for Jordan. Everyone has to be aggressive and move that (ball) as much as possible to shake up the defence.

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In short, the attack that has won seven games in a row by posting more than 30 cents – not the attack that has lost seven of eight by failing to make the top 30.

And the defense that actually appears, as it last did on Saturday, when it was at the center of a victory over the powerhouse Celtics.

Nothing less means, well, more of what happened Tuesday at defeat in Milwaukee or in the first half in Indianapolis.

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