Much is forgotten when a team wins 67 games, can roll out the frontrunner for MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and one of the best coaching staffs in the league. We forget that this is Steve Kerr's first year manning this team, and its many personalities. We forget that this is their first time through the gauntlet known as the postseason with these expectations. Klay Thompson is only in his fourth season, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green in their third, and Stephen Curry still a playoff baby. As much as this team has won at the level of the San Antonio Spurs in the regular season, much is still to be done when it truly matters.
Which leads to the surprising array of issues that have come up against the New Orleans Pelicans at home. The Golden State Warriors have won both but a concerning number of small things cropped up to the point where Steve Kerr had to address questions. He wasn't happy about some hero shots that Stephen Curry took, careless turnovers, and Draymond Green bemoaned the lack of ball movement at times.
But this team is in it's first real postseason as a contender. They'll have some bad things. Like the first month of the season, the Warriors have started a bit antsy and playing too fast for themselves. Let's see what's happening and what needs to change.
We'll start with the careless turnovers. This happened in Game 2 but a fair amount happened late in Game 1, and even throughout their big runs. Along with askew passes, there were times when Curry and Thompson would jack up long-range shots when perhaps running some offense would work. But that's where I disagree with Kerr. This team thrives on those types of "hero shots". They're a young team. Young teams play harder when the building gets rocking, and in order to get said building going, highlights need to happen. At times, Curry will highlight-hunt but the reward is so vast that the Warriors should and will live with it. It's more of the miscommunication that's a problem. Similar to the early portion of the season, though, look for the Warriors to settle those nerves as the postseason rolls along. Perhaps playing away from home will help, as weird as that sounds.
Now for more tangible things: here's Anthony Davis establishing as the best big man in the league.
Anthony Davis switches and engulfs Stephen Curry's quick release, contesting enough to where Curry has to adjust how quickly he shoots it.
In the second game, Curry tries it again, waving off Andrew Bogut and iso-ing himself against the Brow. It does not count. Now, I know, I know, I'm being nitpicky here. Curry blew by Davis several times in both games, finishing in Game 1 in an assortment of reverse and finger roll layups. In Game 2, Curry drove and pump-faked into a couple buckets. But defensively, the Pelicans have frozen the Warriors offense, at times, because Davis can switch onto anyone, especially Curry on the perimeter and allow zero uphill movement on that end.
The Pelicans have decent defenders in Jrue Holiday, Omer Asik (awful so far), and Quincy Pondexter, but it all rests on Davis. In his three minutes off the floor, the Warriors crushed the interior. Leandro Barbosa and Marreese Speights wrecked the Davis-less defense. Here's an example of how Davis scares the Warriors in the paint.
There is a rather innocuous block by Davis on Thompson.
And only a few possessions later (Game 1), there is Thompson looking to pass to no one because Anthony Davis is Transformers, the Avengers, and the Justice League combined. He also forced Green into a couple quick-shot layups that missed and a few soft Bogut missed half hook shots. And this is just his impact on defense.
The offense of the Pelicans has actually gotten superb spacing at times, running free-throw line pick-and-rolls all day long with Davis.
Here, Green can't switch or double the driver, sticking to Davis up top while Tyreke Evans has a free run to the rim. Bogut is waiting for him there but Curry's off-ball defense has been bad in the first two games. He's done it against Eric Gordon leading to his Game 2 explosion.
Miscommunication has also been an issue in both games, rearing its ugly head here as Andre Iguodala and Thompson both dive to the baseline without telling each other who is handling Gordon up top. Shaun Livingston and Harrison Barnes have also struggled at times. Of course, it is much easier said than done trying to keep an eye on your man when Davis is flying around with the ball.
I apologize because this entire breakdown has divulged into a Anthony Davis love-fest.
Make no mistake, the Warriors have also done many great things. Despite playing two so-so games, they've still won both, with two rather handily results. Draymond Green has been nothing short of spectacular moving his feet guarding Davis, and running the break to perfection. Klay Thompson is having one Klay Thompson quarter a game which is usually good enough to beat this Pelicans team. Andrew Bogut can't guard Davis on the perimeter but has stonewalled everyone in sight at the rim. But perhaps the best thing to look forward to?
Stephen Curry is 7-22 in the first two games. Make no mistake, there is a true cliche'd MVP game coming. Be it Game 3, Game 4, or even a Game 5, it's arriving. And it will be amazing.