If you haven't had a chance to read Derek Knight's FanPost about the Golden State Warriors' performances in Games 2 and 3, it's worth your time because I think he does a good job of addressing the core issue the league's (regular season?) team is facing right now: they not only have to choose to get themselves "emotionally involved" in this series but also have to do it for 48 minutes.
As Andy Liu similarly wrote on Saturday night, the Warriors have looked like a team that knows they have to compete every night to advance but entered the playoffs feeling that, "The NBA Finals were a couple stop lights away" — temporary, mandatory stops to simply manage the flow of traffic between points A and B.
While those outsider perceptions can be immediately dismissed as speculation, I think what both Andy and Derek hit upon after Game 3 pretty much matches what every media member who has been around the team is worried about and even something that Stephen Curry told the media after Game 3, according to the transcript published by Tim Kawakami:
It’s about building your identity, how you play. We’ve gotten away from that the last two games, but more importantly, how important every possession is...There were times in the regular season where we could get away with it by making a couple of shots, we could get back into a game or what have you. But in the playoffs it’s tough. It’s amplified even more, especially on the road.
Let's not pretend that the Warriors don't know what their identity — or, perhaps more specifically, where their strengths lie — but they also don't look especially secure in it. But as Andy and others have highlighted over the last few days, this is a team that hasn't exactly endured a whole lot of adversity to this point in the sense that they've almost literally never felt the type of pressure that builds game to game when you're just trying to survive.
So, as Curry and others have said, today is the day to see how the Warriors respond to significant adversity — not just a couple of losses in a row, but the risk of a season being on the brink of ending way short of expectations, internal and external, if they lose this single game.
Whereas Curry says they're building their identity, I'd probably counter by referring back to the old saying that, "Adversity does not build character, it reveals it." Win or lose tonight, we're going to learn something about who this team is. And, from the sound of it, they might learn a little something about themselves too.
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Who: Golden State Warriors (1-2) at Memphis Grizzlies (2-1)
What: Game 4, second round, 2015 NBA Playoffs
When: 6:30 p.m. PST
Where: FedExForum - Memphis, Tennessee
How to watch:
- National: TNT
Radio: KNBR 680