BOSTON -- The Warriors can't blame Friday's 94-86 loss to the Celtics on turnovers. Golden State had only 12.
And the Warriors can't point to a failure to rebound, as they out-boarded Boston by 10, holding the Celtics to two offensive rebounds. They can't even blame it on the defense. Yes, Boston shot 48 percent. But the Warriors allowed seven points fewer than they normally allow.
No, this loss, Golden State's third straight, is a product of the Warriors offense -- which has quietly been a problem brewing for a while now. This is the part of the season where good teams take their defense to another level. And the Warriors offense hasn't seemed up to the task.
Friday, they managed just 34 percent shooting, their second-lowest rate of the season. Point guard Stephen Curry, who scored 54 points two days earlier in New York, was held to 25 on 6-of-22 shooting.
The Warriors offense looked like a juggernaut when Curry was lighting up Madison Square Garden. But Friday, the Celtics were determined to prevent that from happening.
Guard Avery Bradley, a defensive specialist starting at point guard since Rajon Rondo is out for the year, pressured Curry constantly. And when Bradley wasn't in the game -- his aggressiveness got him in foul trouble -- Boston made sure the help was ready.
Curry missed eight of his 11 3-pointers. And without him rolling, the Warriors seemed to have nowhere to turn for reliable offense.
"As these games get more and more important," Curry said, "you're going to see that more often. We have to be as physical as we can on offense. Setting good screens, making sharp cuts and getting to our spots. We can't just float through our offense."
Not even All-Star forward David Lee, who returned to the lineup after getting suspended last game, could pick up the slack. He managed just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting to go with 19 rebounds.
The Celtics pressured, bumped, swiped, grabbed, held and challenged. And Golden State looked as discombobulated as ever. Even guard Jarrett Jack, who has been a steady hand off the bench, had just two points on 1-of-9 shooting.
The Warriors managed just 16 points in the third quarter. The Warriors have scored fewer points in the second half than the first in all four games of the road trip, averaging just 45 points after halftime.
"The level of intensity, the level of physicality -- the game has changed since the All-Star break," rookie forward Harrison Barnes said after totaling 16 points on 7-of-17 shooting. I think it's gearing up more towards playoff basketball. As a team, we have to adjust for that. The game has gotten a lot more physical. We are allowed to get away with a little bit more. Just the overall intensity, you see a different look in guys' eyes."
Curry clearly didn't have it. One game after playing 48 minutes and knocking down 11 of 13 from 3-point range in Wednesday's loss to the Knicks, he looked weary and failed to get into a rhythm. Bradley had a lot to do with that.
"I knew that coming in. I was prepared for it," Curry said after 42 minutes of work. "When you play heavy minutes, it does add on, knowing that you have to worry about him in the backcourt and trying to get the ball up. He's a great defender."
But that is probably going to be par for the course. So either the Warriors will need to do a better job of freeing up Curry, or the other players will have to produce. That didn't happen Friday.
"They do a great job taking away easy buckets in the paint," Lee said. "But at the same time, I think we got some very makable shots tonight, but we didn't have our best shooting night."
Certainly, the Warriors had to consider themselves fortunate to be down 50-46 at the half. The game was tied at 60 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter when Boston started a run.
Celtics guard Jason Terry set up a dunk for Chris Wilcox to spark it. Moments later, Terry hit a 3-pointer, followed by a Jeff Green jumper, putting the Warriors down seven. After Lee missed a pair of free throws, Green buried a turnaround 15-footer, putting the Warriors down nine.
Carl Landry closed the quarter with a tip-in, and the Warriors entered the fourth quarter down 69-62. Still in striking distance.
But Golden State, as has been the trend, couldn't get points when it needed them most. The Warriors fell apart in the fourth quarter in Tuesday's loss at Indiana. Wednesday, they crumbled in the final two minutes of the loss to New York.
Friday, they didn't really come close to threatening the Celtics.
Now, the Warriors head to Philadelphia on Saturday hoping to make the most of a struggle of a trip. Finishing the five-game roadie at 2-3 wouldn't be bad at all, considering the Warriors close out the season with mostly home games (16 of their final 22).
But even that favorable schedule won't help if the Warriors continue to get knocked off track by stout defense.
"Any time you drop one, drop two, drop three like we have," Barnes said, "you've just got to try to stop the bleeding."
Warriors (33-26) at Philadelphia (22-34), 4 p.m., CSNBA