The Golden State Warriors did exactly what they needed to do on Wednesday night: they kept their season alive. With a convincing 121-106 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals, the Dubs extended their season by at least two more days and one more game. And they played well enough to leave us with optimism that they can extend the season again come Friday.
But that’s a different story for a different day. Friday, specifically. For now we’ll grade the players in this game, weighting for our expectations of each player, with a “B” grade representing that player’s average performance.
Note: True-shooting percentage (TS) is a scoring efficiency metric that accounts for threes and free throws. League-average TS this year wis 58.2%.
30 minutes, 20 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 5 turnovers, 3 fouls, 7-for-11 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 5-for-5 free throws, 75.8% TS, +13
Brilliance from Draymond. Absolute brilliance. It’s not fair to ask or expect him to do it every game, but it’s safe to say that the Warriors will win most of their games against the Lakers when Green outplays Anthony Davis. Which he did. Handily.
His defense was magnificent, but it was his offense that really stood out. Sure, he finished below his average in assists, but it was an absolute clinic on offense. He was aggressive going to the rim, forcing the Lakers to defend or foul, and setting the tone. He made his free throws. He made some big jumpers. And as soon as the Lakers thought about defending him more honestly, he found the open man.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in rebounds.
36 minutes, 25 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2 fouls, 10-for-18 shooting, 2-for-5 threes, 3-for-3 free throws, 64.7% TS, +16
I said before the game that the Warriors would need Wiggins, Klay Thompson, or Jordan Poole to step up if they wanted to win this series. On Wednesday it was Wiggins. In a big way.
Wiggins did his best 2022 playoff Wiggins impression. He was quick and aggressive on offense, making open shots and attacking the rim as a driver, cutter, and rebounder. He made his free throws. He went hard on the glass. He played a massive role in LeBron James having a (relatively) quiet night. He was clutch.
In Wiggs we trust— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 11, 2023
This was the Wiggins we saw against the Boston Celtics. This was the Wiggins who can be a huge part of the Warriors pulling off a remarkable comeback.
39 minutes, 27 points, 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 block, 2 turnovers, 12-for-24 shooting, 3-for-11 threes, 56.3% TS, +12
If you want another reason for optimism, it’s this: the Warriors have actually outscored the Lakers in this series, and they’ve done it with Curry having a relatively quiet shooting performance — he’s just 35.8% on threes so far. If he wanted to have one of those ballistic games on Friday, that sure would be cool.
This was quite a performance by the chef though. He played in total control all night. He orchestrated the offense, and anytime the Lakers got too close, he took over and made a shot that forced them to retreat. He worked his butt off on defense. He took good care of the basketball. He made great decisions and had a serious sense of the moment.
Curryyyy is COLD— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 11, 2023
Post-game bonus: Led the team in points and assists.
37 minutes, 10 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 3-for-12 shooting, 2-for-6 threes, 2-for-2 free throws, 38.8% TS, +16
I’ll be honest, I was expecting a breakout game from Klay. It didn’t happen, but truthfully, Friday would be a better time for it anyway ... and it’s Game 6!
While Thompson once again struggled shooting, he really committed himself elsewhere. I thought it was easily his best defensive game of the series, and he had a strong game rebounding. Unlike in Game 4, he didn’t make poor decisions with the ball in his hands.
He still provides so much value due to his gravity and the way teams defend him. But just imagine what the Warriors might do if he makes his shots!
Gary Payton II
27 minutes, 13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 4 fouls, 4-for-5 shooting, 1-for-2 threes, 4-for-5 free throws, 90.3% TS, +25
There have been questions for the last few games about who will start for the Warriors. There will not be that question entering Friday. Payton worked so well in the starting lineup on Monday, and he worked even better on Wednesday. His defense completely shut down D’Angelo Russell, and his ability to guard larger players made it so LA couldn’t even try to hunt switches. The way he got down the court ran the Lakers off the court, giving the Warriors points and making LA visibly exhausted. His ridiculous offensive rebounding set the tone for the entire team, and breathed energy into the building.
Gary AND 1— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 11, 2023
He’ll start on Friday, and he’ll play a big role.
Post-game bonus: Led the team in plus/minus.
2 minutes, 5 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 2-for-2 shooting, 1-for-1 threes, 125.0% TS, +1
It seems pretty apparent that Kuminga won’t get any minutes in this series, but shoutout to him for two awesome minutes of garbage time.
20 minutes, 4 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, 3 fouls, 100.0% TS, -7
Looney looked pretty healthy in this game, and played his highest minutes total since falling ill. Here’s hoping he’s on the up-and-up, because his rebounding and ability to dominate LA’s backup bigs is huge.
Post-game bonus: Worst plus/minus on the team.
2 minutes, 0 points, 1 foul, +1
Just garbage time for Lamb who, like Kuminga, is firmly out of the rotation. Unlike Kuminga, I don’t see that changing with a different matchup should the Dubs advance.
13 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 1 foul, 0-for-1 shooting, 0.0% TS, -2
Now that Payton is in the starting lineup and playing so well, DiVincenzo’s role in this series is pretty limited. I thought his defense was outstanding in this game though, and he was part of a really intriguing and successful defensive lineup.
The lineup with Payton/Wiggins/DiVincenzo/Green is really making Lakers' offense work— Marcus Thompson II (@ThompsonScribe) May 11, 2023
He’s still a critical part of the team, but I doubt he plays many minutes for the rest of the series. The 10-15 minute range is probably where he lives in this matchup.
23 minutes, 11 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, 3 fouls, 5-for-14 shooting, 1-for-6 threes, 39.3% TS, 0 plus/minus
Poole played a lot more in this game than I anticipated, and Steve Kerr even said that he considered starting him. He also played pretty decently. The decision making was miles better than it had been earlier in the series. He wasn’t taking ice cold heat checks (if such a thing is possible), or throwing up wild shots, or dribbling around too much. He was quick with his decisions, took good looks, and made a lot of exceptional passes.
Sensational— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 11, 2023
The shots still aren’t falling, but a big step in the right direction.
9 minutes, 6 points, 4 rebounds, 2-for-3 shooting, 2-for-2 threes, 100.0% TS, +2
Not as big of a role for Moody in this game, but he played damn well in the role he was given.
Wednesday’s DNPs: JaMychal Green
Wednesday’s inactives: Patrick Baldwin Jr., Andre Iguodala, Ryan Rollins