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This isn't how the NBA Finals were supposed to go!

Why the Warriors are struggling, and what they can do to do to fix it.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

I've been avoiding sports web sites this week. You'd think after three-plus decades of being a Warrior fan, I'd be able to handle losing, but these games — even the Game One win — have been excruciating. If I let myself dig into it during the day, I wouldn't get anything else done. The series seemed obvious beforehand. How can it have gone so wrong?

Here's a quick rundown of why the Warriors are down 2-1, and what they need to fix in order to come back and win the series.

For starters, Steve Kerr, for the first time in his career, is getting out-coached. The team seems discombobulated and frustrated, but the number one problem has been that Kerr and Gentry have not been able to find ways to spring Stephen Curry free. He's working harder for his shots than he has all year, and while the Cavs' excellent defense deserves some credit for this, Kerr and Gentry simply have to solve that problem. They need to find ways to give Curry space to do Curry things. So far, they have largely failed.

Curry himself hasn't been great, but I don't entirely hold it against him. He's not getting any room to maneuver. Bad shooting nights happen, and it's hard to say a player choked when you can point to shots like this:

But in all three games, Curry has struggled to find freedom of movement. The coaches have to fix that. In my pre-series preview I mentioned that I didn't expect Curry to be better than Lebron, but just to keep it close. So far he has failed to do that, but it is at least in part because of the coaches.

I was very surprised that the coaches didn't run more Livingston-Curry lineups out there in game two. In the regular season, that approach was very effective against teams that trapped Curry aggressively. We finally saw some of that in Game Three, but it was a late, slow adjustment that the team should have brought in the moment it was clear that Curry was going to be drawing two or three defenders every time he had the ball at the top of the key, and that Dellavedova was going to do an outstanding job getting through screens that knock off lesser defenders.

Another thing I said was that our players simply have to continue to be who they have been all season, and unfortunately, this has not happened. Early in Game Three there was a stellar example of this: LeBron torched his man on the perimeter, and Bogut was there to contest ... and Bogut backed down.

I don't think I've ever seen Andrew Bogut shy from a challenge like that when he wasn't in foul trouble. Yeah, that collision is going to hurt, but Bogut's never been afraid of that before. For regular Warrior-watchers, that play was stunning. Bogut has been discombobulated enough to get Ezeli more minutes, but even an exceeding-expectations Ezeli is a big downgrade from a meeting-expectations Bogut.

Draymond, too, has failed to be who he was in the regular season. In a later game-three exchange, he got his shot blocked by Mozgov. That's fine — Mozgov is a good defender who is going to block some shots. What wasn't okay was that the next two trips down the floor Draymond got stuck in his head, and made slow, weak decisions with the ball rather than challenge Mozgov again or make a sharp pass. That can't happen.

Draymond and Bogut are better players than Thompson and Mozgov (whose stats are largely a function of the way the Warriors are forced to defend LeBron) but they're not playing like it. They're tentative, overthinking, and sloppy. The Cavs appear to be in their heads.

That larger tentativeness has infected a lot of players. Pretty much every player except Iguodala has looked like they're second guessing themselves out there. Curry's floaters have looked awkward. Shooters have double-clutched before going up.

This is a team that is at their best when they're having fun. Some analysts have suggested that they have fun because they're winning, but there are lots of winning teams that haven't been this joyful. These Warriors work the other way around: their winning comes form the exuberance with which they play. The Cavs have sucked the joy out of them, and it's impacting their play.

It doesn't help that LeBron is, for the first time in his career, having a series that makes an argument for him over Jordan as the greatest of all time. Players go down, and the Cavs get better. The Irving and Love injuries might be blessings in disguise (as they force the Cavs to play through their best player all the time, and force them to take a gritty, defensive approach). It's gotten to such a point that when Shumpert went to the locker room with an arm injury, I turned to my game-watching companion and said, "Great. Now he's going to be out for the series and the Cavs are somehow going to get even better."

Lebron is scoring 42% of his team's points and assisting on 49% percent of his teammates baskets. This is unheard of. I said that one of the ways the Cavs could win was by getting game-six-in-Boston LeBron, and they've gotten him so far.

The good news for Warrior fans is that despite the fact that we're seeing the Warriors fail in multiple areas which I talked about in my series preview, every single game has been close. In game one we saw LeBron wear down late, and that can happen again. In Game Two, despite everything that went wrong, one more Klay Thompson box-out secures the win.  (And this will be the only time I mentioned the four-point swing which resulted from the refs allowing the rarely-seen NBA slide tackle late in game three).

What I felt after game one still holds: The Warriors have a lot of room to play better than we've seen them (even giving credit to the Cavs' defense). The Cavs seem to be playing out of their minds. The Warriors have a shot to re-take home court advantage on Thursday, and will probably get a third attempt in Game Six.

The cardinal rule of sports fandom is to not overreact to the last thing that happened. That's very hard to do here, given the stakes, but the simple truth is that all of these problems are fixable. This series is not close to over if the Warriors can play closer to their potential.

The question is: can they play closer to their potential?

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