I have seen a number of posters in the post-game thread talking about people at GSOM making excuses about Curry, so I feel obliged to go into a little more detail on the matter and overall review of last nights FUBAR....
Firstly, Curry had a shocker of a night...no one is contesting that or making excuses, however there are some of us who have watched Curry from his very first game in a Warriors
Jersey and before and so we may feel duly entitled to make observation about Curry's performance last night, without a bunch of 'excuses' accusations. The primary point of note to be considered is the rock solid fact that he is carrying an injury right now…but I’ll come on to that a bit more in a bit.
I have watched Curry develop as a player and monitored his continued rise as a genuine star of the NBA, I even marked him as a future 'All-Star' at a very early point in his Dubs career, much to the chagrin of others who thought he was average at best. Over this period, we have seen a young man who can make the most incredible shots and deliver truly superstar like performances that are very rare to witness in the NBA.
There is no doubt he was 'Off' tonight...but for some of us, we like to understand 'why', especially when it is possible to see with our own eyes and through some past BBall experience, that even his actual shot style was different last night. The most noticeable element for me, was watching Steph's jump on his shot. Curry is what some call a 'forward jumper' traditionally...when he takes off, his feet often end up landing forward of his lift off position. As shown below:
However, it is also one of the most common indicators of someone who gets ankle problems, the reason being, their feet often end up close to or near other players feet on landing and more importantly, they are ‘motion’ shooters, with the majority of their shots being either in motion or coming from motion into a pull-up jump shot. This often results in the player being slightly off-balance on landing (under greater load), or they are often either immediately chasing their shot for a rebound, or turning to get back on D. In short….. Steph is a mobile type of shooter as opposed to some of the more static shooters in the game. (I.e. they like to receive the ball planted in a set position for a straight, up and down jump shot).
So watching Game 5 against the Spurs
last night, I saw a VERY different shooter, most noticeably in his action and also in his motion on defence.
Before I go into this, I want to discuss the injury/ankle issues. For any of you that have twisted your ankle to the point it goes ‘black and blue’ and swells to the size of a small orange (been there, done that, many times…) You will know that this is not something you recover from with no side effects, within a matter of days. You may think you have fully mobility, you may ‘say’ you feel fine, but the reality is, your tissue and ligaments have been damaged and they are basically ‘under repair’ by the body. This in itself means that the body swells more fluid around the affected area to protect and support it in that repair. Yes the majority of swelling goes down quite quickly, but some will remain, and whether you choose to have strapping or not, the ankle joint simply will not have ‘quite’ that same freedom of movement it had before the sprain/twist. For a player like Curry, even the smallest amount of reduced movement will hinder his game somewhat.
This is less noticeable while jumping, although it does affect balance somewhat and an unintentional effort by the brain and body to protect that ankle slightly when jumping, i.e. placing more load on the good ankle (which is Curry’s case, is strapped and already considered a weak link, following surgery). However, quickness in transition and direction change is really noticeable. Steph was simply not at the races last night… One might argue that he is simply tired, but hey… he is a young man, playing in the NBA 2nd round playoffs and guys 10 years his senior appear to have equal levels of energy… that says to me, it is not just stamina.
On ‘D’ last night, Steph was being run all over the court, ‘Pop’ knew what he was doing and he had his players run Steph through tough screens and from one side to the other, what you could see easily, were the number of times that Steph simply could not get there in time and the guy he was due to pick up, had an easy open jumper. Again… this is not the Curry we have seen this year or in previous playoff games… I suspect, that while he may say he is fine, the picture on screen, shows otherwise, which is also the reason for us using the ‘Zone D’ last night… our guys were simply not able to keep a tight handle on their assigned player in man-on-man D.
Let’s not kid ourselves… Curry is in a spotlight moment in his career, hopefully the first of many, but do any of you honestly think he is going to say….’Look guys, my ankle just does not feel good right now’…. Of course not. He is true fighter, a genuine Warrior and he wants to be out there giving all he can to help lead this team to victory. But as many say ‘the ball don’t lie’ equally… nor does the TV screen. Last night, Steph was really struggling… his shot would not drop, he could not beat screens to save his life and to a certain extent, I blame Jackson for not sitting Curry in previous games when he had the opportunity, to help his star guard recover…
But let’s go back to that shooting action. Last night, I have never seen so many ‘sideways’ jumps, as Steph took last night.
He just didn’t have anywhere near the fluid action that we have come to see and love, some of that may also be attributed to the much closer ‘D’ being applied by the Spurs to Steph. I swear that if Green gets much closer to Steph he will actually end up wearing Curry’s shirt with him still in it!!! While this is high quality ‘D’ by the Spurs, the constant banging of shoulders, hands on and off-ball fouls being made against him and being systematically ignored by the refs, is clearly starting to affect Steph’s rhythm.
Combine this with a healing ankle and being played more minutes than possibly needed, it is all contributing to the performance we saw last night.
So no, I don’t think he was to ‘blame’ for last night’s performance, but you simply cannot say it was all his fault, without looking at the contributing evidence that Steph is simply not firing on all cylinders at the moment. We just to need to understand why and then the coaching staff can make changes to change this.
As for Klay… I simply have no idea what is with this kids inconsistency, however, the one thing I do recognise, is that he defends well, but we appear to lose the plot as to how to use Klay in the offence when both he and Curry are on the floor together.
Klay is a straight up shooter… he possibly has an even better action that Curry, (if possible) when it comes to actual grade ‘A’ typical, basketball shooting action. His shot is poetry in motion, from the lift through the release and poise…it simply is THAT good. So…why on earth is he getting so few looks at open shots? Step forward coaching staff…. You have some questions to answer.
There is no doubt, Klay had a stinker last night, combine this with Curry being ‘off’ and we lost a truly golden opportunity to put the Spurs away, as they had way too many ‘open’ shots and way too many free points from TO’s. Had either one managed to light up; I think we may have seen a different result last night.
So what do we do for Game 6?
The coaching staff must be given credit and praise for getting this team and its players into a position today that none of us expected 12 months ago. Even keeping us in with a shout of the team that is expected to win the Western Conference, says all that needs to be said about the efforts of our coaching and fitness staff….. However…..
We are starting to see the difference in experience at coaching a veteran team in playoffs, versus a great coach who can motivate young players like no other currently in the NBA. Mark Jackson and our coaching staff have got to learn from the reaction tactics of the Spurs, because as of right now, they have finally worked out how to shut down the Warriors firepower and they will do so again in Oakland, UNLESS…. Changes are made.
For example, when San Antonio got themselves into penalty foul trouble, what did we do? Did we drive the lane on every possession? Did we use our ‘bigs’ to get into the paint to draw the fouls? NO…. we spent most of the time running around the three point line, often resulting in a TO….THAT gentlemen, is NOT high basketball IQ or high percentage play selection. We simply MUST adapt better to Spurs play changes, or Thursday’s game will be our last in these playoffs.
"OK genius…so how do we do this?"
In each game the Spurs looked truly uncomfortable against us, our ‘Bigs’ were causing them a real problem. Ezeli banging shoulders with Duncan, Bogut looking like he just beat 40,000 persians single handily, and Dray, Landry and Barnes, causing havoc with open look buckets…. While all this is going on, Klay, Steph and even Jack, often got themselves into open look positions, just waiting for the kick out to the three point line.
I lost count last night, of the number of times I saw Curry and Klay within the same 3 meter radius of each other on the court. Often both trying to lose their defender, in the same direction…POINTLESS!!!! I do not ever want to see Steph and Klay, running in the same direction, at the same time, across the base line… that is stupid and the coaching staff needs to see this.
Those two prolific shooters, should be pulling their markers in opposite directions, opening up the threat for Barnes, Jack, Bogut, Dray, Lee… last night saw ‘road traffic’ style accidents and clashes all around the paint, there was no ‘width’ to our play at all.. I don’t think I have seen the ball travel side-line to side-line and back again, once in this series. The ball movement is simply not high enough!
Instead we are attempting risky dribbles, into crowded areas, against experienced veteran players, able to force the turn overs we are seeing. Yes a cross-over is nice, yes a fancy pass is great….BUT DO IT WHEN WE HAVE A CUSHION!!! There is simply no excuse for risky passes and flash moves, at critical moments of these games, 8 times out of 10 we are currently creating another TO from these risky moves, as opposed to the high percentage option. There simply does not appear to be any cohesion on play making and we certainly did not attack the paint with our bigs last night.
THIS has to change on Thursday….
I want to see high pick and rolls, double screens set, to allow our shooters to break free of their markers, while rotating back into the paint for the pop up layup. In short.… WE need to run the Spurs around the court, not the other way around.
I want to park Curry and Klay outside the 3 point line, almost the entire game. I want to see our bigger bodies ‘forcing’ the Spurs to collapse back to the bucket to help on D, due to the pressure we are putting on the paint… this in itself, will open up our killer 3 point shooters. Watch the game again from last night…this is exactly what the Spurs did, leaving Green parked on the 3 point line, where he scored so many uncontested easy 3’s….we have to learn from this.
Come Thursday, I want the team to come out and give the biggest first half effort we have ever seen from this team…. I want to see them give absolutely everything…. Walk into the halftime dressing room, just about ready to puke! I want to run the Spurs so hard… their legs simply collapse from under them.
If we can build a big enough lead, that enables us to rest our key players through the 3rd, knowing the Spurs will come back, only to step on the gas again in the 4th with rested starters…and put the boot into the throat of the Spurs for the final time in Oakland…. THEN…we have a chance to win this series!
If we do not adapt to what the Spurs are now doing to contain us, then this series is lost. If we do adapt… and we absolutely destroy the Spurs in Oakland, I think the tide will swing hard in our favour and we will take the series in San Antonio…. (wow… to even suggest such a thing in recent seasons, would have had me laughed out of this community due to our record in SA, how times change…)
Finally…. To YOU… the fan…. The game attender… the bar game watcher, the ‘wake your neighbours up stupid foreigner up all hours of the night’…. YOU ALL have your part to play….
Oracle Arena is simply THE BEST STADIUM in the WORLD, for noise. Granted the concrete bunker is a bit of a relic and an eyesore, but the acoustics of that stadium, combined with the fans, create an atmosphere of such intense electricity and passion, that it places an element of intimidation on visiting teams not experienced since gladiators walked into ancient Roman Arena’s with thousands clamouring for blood and death!
While the blood and death element may have gone, the ‘Arena’ remains and there is none finer than Oracle for that atmosphere. But without you, it is just a concrete building, with you…it becomes a ‘living’ ‘breathing’ thing of wonder and amazement and most importantly…it becomes TOAEM!!
As I noted in my past article… The Oracle Arena Extra Man….is the most feared in the NBA….. Thursday will become its most important game night for the last 40 years… What will YOU do to support this great night in our young teams history???
I know I will once again give up another entire night’s sleep in the UK, just to do my part, even though I have to work the next day (2 hours kip really starts to hurt at about 2pm next day!)… You all have to do your part too! By that I mean… I want US nationwide TV reports of a 7.1 level earthquake of noise being reported in Oakland on Thursday night…
So the question the Spurs have to answer is …. Do You Feel Lucky?..... Well do ya?.... Punk!!
LETS GO WARRIORS!!
This FanPost is a submission from a member of the mighty Golden State of Mind community. While we're all here to throw up that W, these words do not necessarily reflect the views of the GSoM Crew. Still, chances are the preceding post is Unstoppable Baby!