Preview: Finally, time to see what this Warriors team is really all about
Must win games? This is what we've been told to wait for
When we all watched the roster construction unfold for this year’s Golden State Warriors team, it was pretty clear that there wasn’t going but where the core carried it. Slim chances for to be a dominant run through the league and a breezy waltz through the playoffs. But nothing is impossible for a squad as heavily decorated as these Warriors. Maybe the core has another few dominant years left in them, or some of the young guys can advance like characters in a progression fantasy story.
As it often goes, the reality landed somewhere in the middle. The Warriors dealt with a rash of injuries, some stunted/spotty internal development, and a weird mid-season reversal of last years offseason that shipped out James Wiseman and returned Gary Payton II. Sixth seed. It’s fine. Get into the dance and let it ride.
Welp, here we are. For the second series in a row, the Warriors are facing elimination. All season, when they struggled, the answer was “wait till the games really matter.” Now it’s time to find out what happens.And you know, I don't feel all that bad about it.
Warriors trail series 1-3
WHO: Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Lakers
WHEN: Wednesday, May 10th, 2023 // 7pm PST
It’s a make or miss league, in a lot of ways
There’s plenty of blame and credit to go around within the Warriors organization right now. The roster, founded on the core principles of coach Steve Kerr’s principles, has built a supporting system around megastar, Stephen Curry. He has been scintillating in this series and tried to do it all in game four. But his 31 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists weren’t enough.
And that’s where we viewers have to pull back the lens a bit to take in the full picture. We’ve already covered the struggles of both Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson this season, but in order to understand how the team finds itself so close to elimination again, it’s fair to take a good hard look at the team’s secondary and tertiary offensive focal points. Poole is the bigger problem at this point, he scored zero points in 10 minutes as Kerr struggles to rationalize keeping him on the court. But it’s more than the big fat zero on the scoreboard from Poole, take a look at his turnover rate - and everyone else’s (except you Curry, you’re cool!).
The Warriors just lost in a game three blowout that was due in no small part to the team’s 16 turnovers. I looked it up, the Warriors are actually averaging a whopping 14.5 turnovers per game in this postseason - second worse, behind only the eliminated Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State has proven that these turnovers aren’t necessarily an Achilles heel for the team; they have won plenty of times with high turnovers. Especially within the hyper octane Kerr offense, a couple of dropped balls here and there are just the cost of doing business.
Except that the entire machine depends on a humming offense to make everything else make sense. With Poole and Thompson both struggling to differing degrees to deliver their share of the firepower, the Warriors are much more vulnerable to shooting themselves in the foot.
Given the historical record, on both sides, I’m only going to lightly question Kerr’s rotational choices. Why did Poole only get 10 (admittedly crappy) minutes? What on earth has happened to Kuminga and (ugh) Lamb? Kerr’s tightened his rotation as one might expect in the playoffs - especially given the reliably unreliable play from the reserves for most of this season. But in doing so, he’s limited a team with relatively few options to a dwindling, even smaller set of choices on the court.
Speaking of the court, the Warriors were doing ok in the first half, where they ran the pick-and-roll 24 times with immense success,
And then? A mere 6 times in the 2nd half. Whether by design or player shot selection I’m not sure, but it feels like the pathway to success is narrowing like a nightmare hallway that squeezes tighter and tighter while you run down it in slow motion.
You also have to give some flowers to Anthony Davis, LeBron James, and all the other Laker players that have shown up. These things aren't easily given. The random role player blowing up to steal a game or two is doing so by out playing their Warriors counterpart.
Is this the final hallway for the dynasty? I don’t think so, but the walls are closing in. All the slack in the line is officially used up and now the Warriors have simply got to deliver.
I have faith in these Warriors. Need a win, get a win. Dubs in 6 is finally off the table, so I’m formally switching to Dubs in 7.