My post about five things that could lead to a Warriors loss in Game 2 was a little too accurate, so I read the room — no one’s reading this besides Warriors fans — and decided to take a slant in the other direction for this post about Game 3. Plus, writing about how the Warriors could lose tomorrow is just too easy. If they play the way they did on Tuesday in a hostile arena, they’ll find themselves down 2-1 and it’ll be panic time.
That time has not come yet, because the Warriors are fully capable of reminding us how good they’ve been all season. That is, as long as at least a few of the following positive things occur. And hopefully Tim Kawakami doesn’t mind, but I’m going to steal liberally from his recent interview with Jerry West to help create this list.
1. Make Zach run
For every advantage, there’s an equal and opposite disadvantage … or something. The Grizzlies have guys who like to bang down low (jr. high school kid laugh), but what do you do with big guys? You run them silly, if you can. The Warriors didn’t do a great job of making Zach Randolph run the full 94 feet as often as they should, let alone sprint. For example: remember when Randolph cherry-picked for that easy basket in Game 2?
I feel comfortable assuming that Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and even Andrew Bogut are in better shape than Randolph (and Mo Speights plays so few minutes that he can put it into high gear when he’s in). Easy for me to say about a professional athlete who’s played in nearly 1,000 NBA games, right? But Randolph had more than enough energy to keep the Warriors honest when they went small in the fourth quarter of Game 2, while he should’ve been at least a little gassed. Instead, he scored eight points in that quarter and forced Steve Kerr to bring in Bogut to stop the bleeding.
2. Draymond Green must start out hot (or at least not ice cold)
“I think the best thing to say is we need another scorer to step forward and give some support to Klay and Steph.
“That’s a very good defense we’re playing. They’re going to stop some things that we do. We need other people that will score the ball.”
West is right, of course. Klay Thompson was all sorts of discombobulated in Game 2, but that was partly because the Grizzlies were doing a great job on Stephen Curry and Thompson felt the need to force the action. Which, as we all saw, played right into Tony Allen’s hands. Literally.
Green seemed to figure this out late in the game, as he continually drove and pushed the ball at every opportunity as the Warriors tried to come back, scoring eight of his 14 points in the final quarter. His only problem was his shot wasn’t falling, as he went just 3-of-11 from the field, including 0-for-3 on threes, as did most of his damage at the line (8-of-10) thanks to all those drives.
Why didn’t he provide that kind of offense throughout? Because he started off horribly, with two turnovers and (more importantly) two fouls in the game’s first three minutes. It’s simplistic, but Green came out and nailed a few threes early on in Game 1, and the Grizzlies were scrambling as a result even though he picked up a couple quick fouls early in that game as well. He didn’t provide much offense until the second half of Game 2, and when he did it was too late.
3. Andre Iguodala needs to take on more responsibility
He’s a great center fielder, or free safety, or midfielder, or defenseman, or whatever position you want to call him from another sport. But the Warriors are truly unstoppable when Iguodala is a complete basketball player. It’s not out of the realm that he can do this, either.
His point totals in six playoff games (2015): 8, 5, 4, 8, 8, 7.
His point totals in seven playoff games (2014): 8, 4, 11, 22, 18, 15, 14
Expecting him to score in the high-teens is probably pushing it, but it’s not too much to expect Iguodala to play the way he did in February and March: 9.7 ppg, 53.3 FG%, 3.1 apg. I thought this was the version of
Iggy Dre that Golden State would get in these playoffs, but his postseason numbers have been disappointing: 6.7 ppg, 34.1 FG%, 2.7 apg.
And so far he’s been using his athleticism and acrobatic skills to avoid contact (and free throws). This has got to stop. Missed free throws cause frustration among players, coaches and fans, but in a way they’re worth it if Iguodala can help foul out Marc Gasol or Randolph.
4. Klay needs to stop giving a $%#@
“I’ve never seen him that off in a game,” West said of Thompson. “All year long, he never played like that.
“I think Klay is someone who takes everything personal—he wants to succeed so much, he tries so hard… and (Tuesday) he just did not have it…
I don’t know if Allen is in Thompson’s head as much as Thompson is in his own head — which one wouldn’t think could happen with a guy who never met a shot he didn’t like and seems doesn’t seem like a guy who would sweat things. People love to say that someone has “no chill” when they’re angry or stressed; it seems like Thompson has chill to spare, but apparently he gets anxious and down on himself as much as anyone else.
He’s capable of going unconscious at any point, but the Warriors just need him to remember that his teammates are capable of great things too. Just forget about Game 2 and keep the ball moving. And chill with the running threes off one foot.
5. Take advantage of this break
Curry seemed like he was more than happy to get away from the MVP hoopla after Game 2, and that goes for the entire team. Forget about awards, whatever gibberish Charles Barkley might be spitting, who’s the hunted or hunting, or even the dreaded “who’s got the momentum?” question. This is just basketball, and on that front the Warriors hold a clear advantage.
It’s not that the Warriors partied it up after the MVP celebration, but they weren’t completely focused. And unfocused players don’t play as fast. They think about the pass before making it, and the next thing you know, there’s Allen racing the other way and dunking. The Grizzlies are a good defensive team, but they aren’t THAT good. The 20 turnovers and all those missed shots they usually make were as much a product of the Warriors playing in a fog as anything else, and some time away from the hype machine should provide some clarity.
If anything, it’s Memphis that might lose their own minds during a stretch or two. The Grindhouse will be going off tomorrow night, with Green getting booed even more vociferously than Allen at Oracle. If the Grizzlies get caught up in the vitriol and try to punish Green for making contact with Mike Conley’s face, that could play right into the Warriors’ hands.