You know what the Golden State Warriors need right now? Panic.
More than health. More than a heightened focus on defense. More than a sense that they aren't quite so epochally brilliant as we all think they are.
Fan panic. Open fretting that the dream is dead before it reached fruition. Worry that losing their sixth game in November rather than January or March is a sign that the wheels are coming off the wagon.
After losing at home to Sacramento Monday night, the Warriors are . . . well, hell, they're the Warriors. Playing without Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant is an educational experience, and it's a better excuse for losing to a team than most, but it's still an excuse – at least for a team that is supposed to have Wolverine's adamantium skeleton.
Besides, all we ever hear about the Warriors is how violently they react to slights, whether real or merely perceived – so maybe what they need here is a good healthy slight.
Like this: The Kings? Really?
Or maybe this: The Clippers, who are tied for ninth and about to find out how long they will do without Blake Griffin, are only six games behind them in the division.
Or perhaps this is the one: The boat race is over even before it started, and despite all the outward trappings of off-season surrender and positioning for 2019, the rest of the NBA did not prostrate itself before the Warriors in acknowledgement of their essential inferiority.
In other, only slightly dated, words, the rest of the field is not taking the knee, and that makes being the king a little harder.
That may be the best way to burrow beneath the Warriors' it's-a-wonderful-life hides – telling them that the league doesn't behave as though they are all that special. It's the kind of healthy slap that Draymond Green would take as a bone spur, and maybe Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala as well.
But the one thing they don't need to hear is, "It's Game 21, don't worry about it," or "It's still November," or worst of all, "Let's see how things go in the playoffs."
All those things are clearly true, of course, and losing to Sacramento is every bit as damaging as it was in February (when it didn't matter at all).
But it is equally true that they respond best when people around them have stuff to say, and they do function best in discomfort. This, then, is all there is to offer in that cause – 15-6 isn't meeting the demands of the narrative, and that won't do at all.
And yeah, I'm not convinced that'll work either.