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Strength in weakness: Warriors have to make it work, no excuses
Draymond Green is out because the NBA said so. Time to dig deep, not whine about it
The good news is that the Golden State Warriors cannot technically lose the series tonight. It’s just game 3. The bad news is that this is a game that will have to be played without Draymond Green - and the Warriors have been getting lit up by a Sacramento Kings team that has looked faster and hungrier over the first couple of games.
But the Golden State team this year is completing the circle of the dynasty run. There’s no railroading. No buzzer to buzzer dominance. Curry resting in the fourth as the rest of the team coasts across the finish line towards an easy victory is a bygone era. But there are the same guys at the root of it all. The same core that turned it all around and smashed Lob City into oblivion are still standing here, ready to keep fighting as long as they are standing.
Let's beat this team without Draymond and never look back.
Warriors trail series 0-2
WHO: Golden State Warriors vs. Sacramento Kings
WHEN: Thursday, 4/20 // 7pm PST
WATCH: NBCSBA / TNT
Live or die with the core!
One of my favorite things about basketball is how dominant you can be in spite of your weaknesses. Stephen Curry doesn’t really block shots. Draymond Green at the top of the key playing iso against a set defense is worrying, for sure. Klay Thompson plays a weird Schrödinger's version of the game where he thrives within the paradox of bad shots and great shot making.
It’s time for Golden State to lean deep into whatever they can find within themselves and the crowd’s energy at Chase Center.
I’m not sure anyone necessarily needs to hear my opinion on this, but here it is anyways. Green got more than he deserved, but he earned the punishment. A sort of lifetime achievement award where they even cited his history when announcing the suspension. Just like the LeBron James “the league should look into it” nonsense, there was a bunch of gamesmanship here. And not in the sense of hustling for the ball, but more in a Chris Paul “do whatever” sense.
But here’s the thing - and I understand if you hate me for this: if the roles were flipped and it was Draymond Green that threw a player to the ground, and then rolled over and put a sleeper hold on some random guy’s ankle (by the way, not the first time the Kings have tried this ploy during the series) Dub Nation would cheer for it. You managed to get the other team’s super critical hothead ejected… and he’s suspended?? All the way yes!
And okay Sabonis did us dirty, Dub Nation. He wasn’t defending himself, he held on to Green’s leg so hard that his body lifted off the ground. This was a calculated move. And it worked. Just like Green has done for years - Sabonis got into the Warriors’ heads and made them freak out. Advantage: Kings. Bravo. And I do feel like there’s some non-zero element of karma here. A toe-the-line version of the “live by the three, die by the three” ethos that has been right in the middle of the dynastic storyline here. For better or worse, this is how it’s going to look. And win or lose, there will be a game four, with a focused and angry Green coming back in.
But so what? Tonight, the Warriors will have to find a way to win without their heartbeat. Green is the connective tissue on both ends of the court that allows this Warriors team to be so much better under the brightest lights and tightened rules of the playoffs.
Again, this isn’t a roster built around the idea that Curry will be on the bench as the rest of the stacked roster coasts to an easy win - playoffs or no. This is a lineup that’s going to be battling for their lives game in and game out. So let’s battle.
The Warriors have a lot to fix.
Without Green, the team is down to one traditional center - but I think the answer is two-fold here:
Kevon Looney is up to the task;
The Warriors are going to lean into small ball.
Golden State is no stranger to adversity, the question tonight is really about whether or not they have another answer or two left in them. Can the old legs and the young nerves stabilize each other enough to escape this first round?
I say yes.
Without Green, coach Steve Kerr has an extremely limited toolbox of big to pull from. Anthony Lamb and Jonathan Kuminga are the next “bigs” up in the rotation, but given the speed of the Kings, I’m not so sure that Kerr just doesn’t lean small and go with a three guard lineup. Strategic considerations aside, I’m just not sure there are all that many options here: run with what you got.
But as we stand on this precipice of history and hot takes, let’s never forget that this is how it is supposed to go. The Kings are actually pretty good. The Warriors have accomplished a lot, and are getting pretty darn old. Mike Brown just picked up a well earned coach of the year award and his team is full of young, promising players that are working together in synergy. The Warriors are hoping that there’s another whiff of that old magic left in the bottom of the sack. Honestly, they’re scraping the pipe at this point, and praying for multiple miracles. And why not stay We Believing?
"Some part of life is just showing up and standing next to somebody when life is hard."
-Bob Myers on joining Andrew Wiggins at his returning press conference
The Warriors have to fix their dumbest of turnovers and figure out what to do about the fact that Fox and Monk are just so much faster than most of our players. It started off as the Warriors being too small (Ernie), but now the issue is that they’re too slow - setting up a series of breakdowns and open looks to a Kings offense that is legitimately good. Now, the removal of Green sets up a chess-like strategic stare down, but in the end, it’s going to be down to players being better.
Was Mark Jackson right all along?
Oh this is a win, for sure. Defend the home ground, no excuses!
I’ll be there tonight too. Standing. Yelling like an idiot and wearing an old jersey. Or maybe it’s time for me to get a Looney one. All I know is that Section 210, row 2 is going to be loud. And I’ll have another XL yellow Warriors shirt to add to my collection. We’ll be taking the boat in, just like Klay would want.