Last night, the Golden State Warriors didn’t give a damn and played as such.
They unraveled in the second half and let a 11-point lead in the second quarter turn into a 13-point loss, as the Toronto Raptors took a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. Here are a few observations from last night’s 105-92 debacle at Oracle.
Weak Second Half Defense
For the first half, the Warriors defense was aggressive and solid enough to help build an 11-point lead. However, the cracks began to show late in the half, and the cracks began to grow in the second. Granted, the Warriors have been playing injured and missing Kevin Durant on both sides of the ball. However, the circumstances still doesn’t justify the results. Defense, in this game is just as mental as it is physical. Last night, the Warriors let the Raptors back into the game with their bad decisions on defense.
The commitment of trapping Kawahi Leonard is one of the biggest issues on defense. Leonard, just like he’s done all series, continued to pass out of the traps and his supporting cast have consistently made the Warriors’ defense pay. Case in Point:
Look at this possession with a little over seven minutes the fourth quarter. Why in the hell did Stephen Curry leave Danny Green wide open for the corner three to “help” a well positioned Klay Thompson to guard Leonard? Leonard passed out of the double to find Green for the open three. Just like he did several times during the game and the series, Leonard has always managed to trust his teammates, and rewarded that trust with well timed assists.
For the Warriors to have any shot Monday, I still believe that they are better off with single coverage on Leonard and running his shooters off the three.
Turning The Oracle Into A Bakery
Careless turnovers have always been the bane of the Warriors’ existence and an unfortunate by-product of their pass happy motion offense. That motion offense is ineffective when the Warriors end up with less attempts than their opponents. Last night, the Raptors had eight more shot attempts than the Warriors because turnovers. During the first Warriors possession, Thompson hit DeMarcus Cousins in stride as the Warriors had a great 2 on 1 opportunity with Andre Iguodala open for an easy dunk. Cousins instead tried a shovel pass to Thompson for no reason. The Result? Swarming Raptors came away with the ball.
Passes like their fourth turnover has been a constant in the series. Like this Draymond Green pass that bounced off of Thompson, and lead to Toronto pushing the pace in transition for a trip at the line.
Ball movement while admirable is ineffective when the defense is selling out on Curry. It’s better to ISO and since the Warriors didn’t have Durant, who is the most prolific ISO scorer in the game, they could have created some opportunities for Curry on ball. Theres a misconception that Curry can't ISO since he’s been off the ball so much, but he can. He has proven that he can take Leonard off the dribble. Like this:
1) What an AWESOME rebound by McKinnie— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) June 8, 2019
2) Steph just created a lot of space on Kawhi and drilled the stepback midrange jumper pic.twitter.com/iQsGx7WIgM
This mid range jumper over Leonard is one example of what I’m saying. Look at the space Curry created here. Toronto won't put Leonard on Curry directly, so why not force the matchups?
After scoring a playoff career high of 47 on Wednesday, Curry followed up in game four with a line of 27 points, 4, rebounds and 6 assist. However, context matters here. Curry didn’t shoot well and he just looked out of sync. He had clean looks from three and missed shots that he usually made. He was hesitant and unsure most of the night. His points have been dismissed at “junk’’ points. I wouldn’t go that far but he wasn’t a presence last night. For a banged up team with players that can only scrap together some points like scrapping for that last dollar, points are points. However, Curry seemed to be just as content to run a 48 minute marathon than taking some of these Raptors off the dribble or making them pay by using the Raptors’ aggressiveness against themselves like he did in game one.
Granted, he played nearly the entire game Wednesday with little rest but there were opportunities for him to take advantage of but he wouldn’t. In order for there to be a game 6, Curry has to be and remain aggressive. If he fails to do so, then it’s a wrap.