The Golden State Warriors are now on a four-game losing streak, after falling in the final three games of the 2016 Finals after leading the Cavaliers 3-1, and then losing their super-team's debut with Kevin Durant on Saturday to the Toronto Raptors 97-93.
It's preseason, and there's always very little to take from these exhibitions, even less to take from the first one. But here's what I noticed in the super-team's first outing ... and a good win for the Raptors to kick off their season.
1. Kevin Durant did not fit like a glove. Durant missed shots, and that's fine, it's preseason. But he looked passive and a bit out of sorts. This is nothing to worry about it. It's the first preseason game, he could be fine by next game, and really, he just has to be fine by next April, seven months from now, for it to matter. That's when it counts for the Warriors.
The Warriors used Durant mostly off-ball. He caught a pass on the first possession in the high post, turned and fired a terrible shot that barely glanced off the rim after some good defense by DeMarre Carroll. Durant turned the ball over twice in pick and roll situations due to miscommunication, and was just 2-of-9 from the field. It's all stuff that you expect will come with time, could be there by the second or third preseason game, even, but if you were wondering if it would "click" right off the bat, it did not.
That said, this is going to work more times than not, even though Durant missed here:
There were good signs, though, especially on the defensive end. Durant had a huge block in the first quarter and his length caused major issues for the Raptors. The Warriors are going to be monstrous defensively with Durant.
2. Klay Thompson back to his old tricks. Thompson was bold this summer, saying he wasn't going to sacrifice anything with Durant in town, and he showed it from the get go. He was the only Warriors splashing on Saturday, shooting 5-of-13 and 4-of-11 from the arc for 16 points. He was aggressive and let it fly, and looked very natural. Draymond Green was more quiet, but Thompson looked like your average Splash Brother, doing what he does best. If that's the Klay Thompson the Warriors are going to get, once Curry and Durant get warmed up, they're just going to overwhelm teams with perimeter shooting.
3. The inside play for Golden State was a little rough, on both ends. Zaza Pachulia looked more like Mavericks Zaza Pachulia than Bucks Zaza Pachulia. Rotations were a bit off, struggled in the pick and roll, couldn't finish bunnies, got beat for boards. Draymond Green was also not interested in going all out for rebounds in the first preseason game. The Raptors grabbed 33 percent of their misses, compared to just 18 percent for the Warriors.
This is maybe one area where there's legitimate reason for concern. The Warriors are just not going to be as strong inside this season. Pachulia can play better, Green will play better, but they lost Festus Ezeli and Pachulia may not be as good overall as Bogut, even with improved free throw shooting. The Warriors may legitimately have a weakness inside, even if it's masked by their incredible perimeter power.
4. The Raptors looked better than expected. Hey, how about we talk about the Eastern Conference runners-up who actually won the game? Dwane Casey probably deserves more respect than he gets. This was the first preseason game, but the Raptors were still sharp and ready to go. They were prepared, focused, and things worked. The young kids who have very little or no experience really came out and played well in the time given to them.
The biggest key in this? DeMarre Carroll was supposed to be less than 100 percent and it was thought he could miss time. He played, and played great. Fourteen points on 6-of-9 shooting with four steals and great defense on Kevin Durant. When Carroll is healthy, he makes the Raptors an entirely different level of squad. But the Raptors got great contributions from guys like Fred VanVleet (Wichita State), rookie Jakob Poeltl (despite foul trouble), Norman Powell, and most especially ...
5. Pascal Siakam may have been the biggest story. Siakam (See-AH-kum) made play after play and showed that he can be a legitimate rim protector. That's huge for a team that lost Bismack Biyombo in free agency. He had two blocks, finished at he rim with eight points, and had eight rebounds in 21 minutes of play time. The youngster looks like he can contribute, and if the Raptors can get good contributions from multiple kiddos, that's going to help replenish their depth in their push to return to the Eastern Conference finals.