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Mercifully, the Warriors reached the All-Star break. The defending NBA champions, three-time Western Conference bosses and expected 2018 super-team got to the intermission — which, strangely, comes 71 percent of the way through the season — not at a gallop or a rhythmic marathon clip, but with the embarrassed shamble of a drunk who just woke up on his front stairs.

Over the past month or so, the Warriors have looked worn down, frustrated and occasionally uninterested in the game of basketball. And they have lost some games. The question is: Should we be worried? Is this a little temporary coasting by a great team that is about to kick it into high gear after a few days of rest? Or do the Warriors have systemic problems we’d be foolish to ignore?

This is a weekend for Steve Kerr’s players to relax their minds and pressure down. Not us, though. Let them be the Warriors. We’ll be the Worriers as we examine their flaws and figure out what it all might mean over the next four months.

FACTOR: Recent losses

WORRY LEVEL: Gentle perspiration

Even when the Warriors set an NBA record by going 73-9 in 2015-16, there were puzzling upsets. Remember that 112-95 loss to the last-place Lakers on March 6, 2016? These guys aren’t robots. It happens.

The problem for the Warriors is that it’s been happening too frequently of late. Golden State is 3-3 in its previous six games, 7-5 in its past 12. That constitutes a major skid for these golden children. And some of those losses have been truly galling — like the 30-point loss at Utah on Jan. 30, or the 20-point home loss to Oklahoma City on Feb. 6.

They haven’t shown any true consistency for weeks.

If the water rises to your ankles, then your knees, then your waist, at some point you’re a fool if you keep insisting the boat doesn’t have a leak. But we’re not there yet. The Warriors are too good for us to believe they can’t fix their recent breakdowns.

FACTOR: First quarters

WORRY LEVEL: Buoyant and whistling a Taylor Swift song

It has been the most consistently puzzling aspect of the Warriors’ season. In quarters 2 through 4, they have outscored the opposition by an average of 8.4 points (a margin watered down by plenty of fourth-quarter garbage time). In the first quarter, they have been outscored by .4 points per game.

Kerr has pleaded with his players, yelled at them, taken his case to the media, but nothing has worked. Just look at their most recent game. The Warriors had one more chance to put together a complete game before the break. But they somnambulated through the first 12 minutes at Portland on Monday, and trailed by 20 points before the period was over.

Kerr has criticized his players’ focus, and there’s no other valid explanation. It’s not like the Warriors are a physical team that gradually wears down the opposition, or that Kerr and his staff devise brilliant in-game counter-strategies night after night. It’s a boredom thing.

Criticize the Warriors for their lack of intensity if you want, but the focus will be there when the games really matter.

FACTOR: Andre Iguodala’s decline

WORRY LEVEL: Distracted fingering of rosary beads

Iguodala has started just five regular-season games since Kerr became head coach in the fall of 2014, but he has been one of the heroes on the mini-dynasty. This year, though, the 14-year veteran can’t shoot straight. His field-goal percentage of 43.6 is the worst of his career. His 3-point shooting mark, 22.9 percent, is a horror. Teams are basically daring Iguodala to launch at this point.

It’s reasonable to assume that, at 34, he has started down the backstretch toward retirement — a significant development, considering Iguodala has two years remaining on his contract after this season. The mitigating factor is that even as his shot has abandoned him, he continues to do all the other things that have made him so valuable. He’s still a versatile lock-down defender off the bench, and the Warriors will rely on that heavily in the playoffs.

FACTOR: The Rockets

WORRY LEVEL: Moderate increase in heart rate

Part of what fueled the confidence of Warriors fans as the season began was external to the team. It was the rest of the NBA, which offered no clear obstacle once the Cavaliers had broken themselves apart and traded Kyrie Irving to Boston.

But a contender has stepped forward. James Harden and Chris Paul have merged more smoothly than anyone imagined, and the Houston Rockets hit the All-Star break with the best record in the league — with 13 losses to the Warriors’ 14. It’s time to recalibrate the balance of power. Could the Rockets knock off Golden State and represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals?

Yes, they could. But they probably won’t. A Warriors-Rockets showdown in the West final round would be a hoot. But it would be a reach to favor the Rockets, even if they end up with home-court advantage.

FACTOR: Turnovers

WORRY LEVEL: Vague nervousness

Kerr hates turnovers. But his players seem to love them sometimes. As talented as the Warriors are, as beautiful as their ball movement can look at times, they have a maddening propensity to hand the ball to the other team. They are averaging 15.9 turnovers per game, third most in the NBA. Such carelessness means the Warriors can lose even when they shoot better than the opponent, which they usually do.

It’s a true Achilles’ heel. Except that it isn’t terribly different than what they’ve exhibited in three-plus years under Kerr. When it comes to protecting the ball, they ranked 18th in the league in 2014-15, 22nd in 2015-16 and 24th in 2016-17. Yet they managed to win a lot of games. Though it may cause Kerr to chew through his lower lip on occasion, it’s just who the Warriors are.

FACTOR: Defense

WORRY LEVEL: It ceased being a secret a long time ago. Despite the Splash Brothers nickname and Stephen Curry’s string of 3-point records, the Warriors win games at the defensive end.

This year, though, they are a little less impenetrable. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson both remain candidates for the NBA All-Defensive Team, but both have taken a small step backward in 2017-18. As a whole, the team has suffered long lapses in defensive intensity.

And the numbers bear that out. Their defensive rating (an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions) is 103.7. That’s fifth in the league — pretty good, but the Warriors’ lowest ranking under Kerr. Ditto with opponents’ 3-point percentage. Golden State had never ranked lower than fifth in the NBA under Kerr; right now the team is ninth, at 35.6. According to teamrankings.com, Golden State’s opponents turn the ball over on 13.8 percent of their possessions, a mark that ranks 22nd in the NBA. For whatever reason, the Warriors have become easier to score on.

Again, it’s possible that intensity is the real culprit here, and that the Warriors will pick up the pace when they need to. But it’s a little harder to flip that switch when you’re talking about something as fundamental as defensive efficiency. The Warriors have 24 regular-season games to sort it out.

All in all, the champions have some true concerns right now. Maybe not enough to bet against them, but definitely enough to make the rest of the season compelling. And if this exercise was too much for you — if it has made you anxious or distressed — go ahead and turn on your TV Sunday evening. The Warriors will be the ones with four players in the All-Star Game, a reminder that this team is, in fact, still pretty good.

You can reach columnist Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Skinny_Post.

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