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A plea

I’d like to see some things from the Warriors tonight.

Steph Curry on the ground, yelling Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This is not going to be my best-written article. It won’t be very articulate or analytical. It won’t have the type of prose that might encourage a publisher to reach out to me about the book deal I secretly dream about. It won’t have any quotes or hard-hitting journalism.

It’s just a plea to the Golden State Warriors ahead of their Game 5 showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals. A game that, if they win, will give them hopes of overcoming a 3-1 deficit against LeBron James, the man who famously did it to them in the 2016 NBA Finals. A game that, if they lose, signals the end of the season ... and potentially the end of an era.

These are some things I would like to see from the Warriors tonight, win or lose. Preferably win.

  1. A whole lot of heart. In the Warriors’ defense, they haven’t been too shy on heart in these playoffs, despite lacking it in the regular season. Even in the inexcusable blowout loss on Saturday, the Dubs played with heart ... the heart just manifested in a manner that became very self-destructive. Game 6 against the Sacramento Kings was a game in which they lacked heart, and I’m imploring them to not do that again. The season might end tonight. Don’t let it be because you couldn’t muster up the energy to try and keep it alive.
  2. The proper dash of restraint. There’s really only been one team that’s reliably been able to beat the Warriors since their dynastic started in 2014: themselves. They do it in a number of ways (more on that in a minute), but lately they’ve really been doing it in the emotional way. The 30-point Game 3 loss was Academy Award-worthy cinema depicting the loss of composure. They argued with the Lakers. They argued with the Refs. They argued with each other. It was like watching a toddler melt down in real time: the tantrum, the despair, the wallowing in grief, the melting onto the floor dramatically and pathetically, the overwhelming stench of excrement. The playoffs had been leading to that. You could see the tension building as Jordan Poole and, to a lesser extent, Klay Thompson struggled. Steph Curry’s impassioned speech before their Game 7 victory against the Kings reportedly featured a line at players like Poole and Jonathan Kuminga, who hadn’t had the best attitude about reduced roles. JaMychal Green admitted that he hadn’t. Please don’t go out like that, Dubs. Don’t go out bickering at each other. Don’t go out blaming the refs. Don’t go out with Draymond Green ripping his jersey off as we wonder if we’ll ever see him on this team again.
  3. A standout performance. The Warriors should win this game, and if they play as well as they did in Games 1, 2, or 4, they probably do. But it sure would be nice if someone stepped up and made it easier. Poole? Klay? Andrew Wiggins? Someone outside of Curry, Draymond, and Kevon Looney having a big game would go a long way.
  4. Limit the turnovers. Enough said. We only have so much hair to pull out.
  5. RUN. Running helps the Warriors for multiple reasons. It’s when they’re at their best in this matchup — the Lakers were a below-average defensive team against transition this year, and I’d argue that the changes to their roster, while good overall, have made them even worse in that area. And just as importantly, if the Warriors want to not just win Game 5 but also Games 6 and 7, wearing out the Lakers is imperative. We’ve already seen LA look worn out a few times in this series, and Anthony Davis has played 12 more minutes than Curry, while LeBron James has played three more. Running on Wednesday helps get them to Friday, while also improving their chances on Friday.
  6. Don’t get technical fouls. Already kind of covered this with composure. Gonna say it again. Also please don’t hit people.
  7. Balance the offense. Steve Kerr ran substantially more pick and rolls for Curry in Game 4, and Steph absolutely ate when he got Davis switched onto him. Then Kerr inexplicably went away from it, and the result was that all of the shooters were ice cold after standing around watching Curry cook for most of the game. The Warriors need to balance things more. Run enough off-ball action to get Klay and Wiggins going in the first half, but enough pick and rolls in the second half to let Curry guide them to victory.
  8. Relentlessly attack the glass. Not much to say about this one. The Warriors have shown in these playoffs how dynamic they can be when they attack the glass, especially on the offensive end. They need to do that.
  9. Be smart with fouls. A lot of the Warriors issues have come from getting into foul trouble. They need to avoid that in this game. That means that Curry, Klay, and Wiggins need to not reach unnecessarily. It means that Draymond and Looney need to know when to back out of a play and give up a bucket rather than an and-one. It means knowing that you don’t need to try and take a charge on every play.
  10. Be aggressive. It’s no secret that the Warriors have shot far fewer free throws than the Lakers. And while critics of the refs will point out that the Warriors and Lakers have similar points in the paint totals, which suggest that they should have similar free throw totals, the reality paints a different picture. All series long the Warriors have tried to penetrate and, if there’s not an easy layup, they either dribble or pass out. Davis has visibly scared them to the point that they often look repelled from the rim once they realize he’s there. The Lakers, on the other end, have at times operated with all the grace and bravado of a steam shovel ... and it’s worked. Golden State needs to do the same. Attack Davis. Risk getting your shot blocked for the chance to go to the line, shoot free throws, and get AD in foul trouble.
  11. Win. I mean, is that too much to ask for?

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