The Warriors should feel pretty good about Game 6 despite the awful start. They finally showed championship resolve and look like they’ve found their identity once again. Let’s get to what they need to do to advance to the Finals.
- Switch the James Harden pick and rolls cleanly: Miscommunications on these cost the Warriors dearly in Game 6. They should be content to force James Harden to tire out on isolations, which he hasn’t excelled at for a while in this series. Stephen Curry and Kevon Looney can handle him one-on-one just fine, and if the other Rockets’ players don’t get anything going, Houston has little chance.
- Cover Eric Gordon out beyond the three-point line: Eric Gordon is not an efficient three-point shooter, but he has a lot of range, puts up a high volume and hits them in the clutch. The Warriors need to be wary of when he spots up a few feet behind the line. Luckily, the Warriors figured this out in the middle of Game 6.
- Shore up the transition defense: This was the main reason why they allowed the Rockets to score 39 points in the first quarter. Breakdowns in the first five or so seconds of the shot clock caused a lot of chaos, eventually leading to open threes for the entire Rockets’ cast. The Warriors locked Doreen on this at the end of Game 6, but need to be wary of this going into the elimination game.
- Try to get Klay Thompson hot again: The Warriors got Klay Thompson going in Game 6 as a screener, opening him up for a bunch of open threes. If he can get it going again in Game 7, the Warriors will be tough to beat.
- Ditch the Kevin Durant post-ups: I used to be in favor of these, but now that the Rockets routinely bring a second defender to help, I’ve realized KD’s vision simply isn’t good enough in this situation to find the open man.
- Instead, give Kevin Durant the ball with lots of space: Kevin Durant needs to face the basket and slash to the hoop. He missed a lot of close midrange shots he usually hits in Game 6, so he should be expected to make a few more. But what he should really be aiming to do is get all the way to the rim, where he has the length to finish over smaller defenders. He also is probably a better passer when he’s facing the basket rather than posting up. A lot of this can come in semi-transition.
- Stephen Curry can be even more aggressive: Curry can still find ways to score more. He’s been great at driving to the rim this series and finishing. More pick and rolls would be nice, and he just has to trust his shot.
- No David West: West was terrible in his short stint in Game 6 because the Warriors were trying to avoid switching him onto smaller guys. He’s just not suitable for this series.
- More Shaun Livingston: Livingston should play twenty-five minutes if he can. He’s the most reliable player on the Warriors’ bench now, and fills in for valuable wing minutes. He’s a steady player that doesn’t make many mistakes, which makes him an immensely valuable player this series.
- Don’t expect it to come easy: Despite the Game 6 blowout, the Warriors cannot be complacent. They’re in enemy territory against a team that has proved itself grittier than the Warriors so far. They won’t give up easy, so small leads won’t be safe.
The Warriors are in a good spot. Their defense has been phenomenal for five out of six games this series, and they seem to have found their identity offensively in Game 6. Let’s take care of business and meet the Cavaliers in the Finals for the fourth time.