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6 keys for a 6th game

How the Warriors can force Game 7.

Jordan Poole with his arms out celebrating Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

We all know where the Golden State Warriors stand. Mired in a Western Conference Semifinals showdown with their intra-state rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dubs are in a classic win-or-go-home situation.

Well, actually, the “or” isn’t necessary there. They’re going home regardless. It’s just a matter of whether they’re going home begin their offseason vacations, or going home to prepare for Game 7 at the Chase Center.

Before Game 5 — also an elimination game — I wrote an article titled simply, “A plea.” The concept was simple. Win or lose, I wanted the Warriors to show me certain things.

They did. They showed most of those things, and won the game comfortably, keeping their season alive for at least two more days.

Now I’m getting greedy. It’s no longer “win or lose, do this.” Now it’s “do this, and win.”

Here are six quick-hitting keys for the sixth game of the series.

  1. Start hot. One thing the Warriors can’t afford to do is let the Lakers smell blood in the water. If they fall behind early, the artist formerly known as Staples Center will be rocking. LeBron James has done this a million times before, and understands when to capitalize. The Warriors players who haven’t won three or four championships may not have the confidence that they can play through it. Simply treading water in the first quarter would be something of a win, but if the Dubs can punch LA in the mouth to start? Make the Lakers question things and feel the tension? It could set the tone for the entire game.
  2. Step up for Wiggs. Andrew Wiggins is currently questionable due to a costal cartilage fracture. He’s reportedly going to try and play through it, but it’s safe to say he’ll be a little compromised. Players will need to step up scoring the ball and rebounding, but above all else, they’ll need to help fill his shoes defending James. Maybe that means Moses Moody, who’s done a pretty good job on James this series, drawing the assignment. Maybe it means Gary Payton II taking on a much bigger player. Maybe it means Kevon Looney playing starter minutes against Anthony Davis so that Draymond Green can check LeBron. Whatever it is, someone needs to do it.
  3. Attack Davis. The Warriors have scored a lot of points in the paint in this series. But not all points in the paint are created equal. The Warriors have often attacked the rim with trepidation, settling for layups and dunks when they’re open, and retreating to the three-point line at the first sign of interior defense. They’re at their best when they actually attack. If they get to the paint and Davis is there? Try to finish over him, through him, or on him. Force him to defend without fouling. Maybe you get free throws. Maybe you get him in foul trouble. Maybe you pull in the defense enough that the threes become more open later. Whatever the case, they need to attack and be aggressive. Now is not the time to worry about having your shot blocked.
  4. Game 6 Klay, or... There’s really no way around this one. At home, maybe, but on the road the Warriors simply cannot win this game without a star offensive performance from someone other than Steph Curry. It’s hard to imagine that performance coming from Wiggins, since his injury should really impact his shot. But Game 6 Klay? That could be it. Would you believe me if I told you that Klay is actually shooting 43.1% on threes this series? He’s been great from beyond the arc, he’s just been awful from inside it (31.0%), has only drawn six free throws, and has had some highly questionable shot selection. But if anyone can have a break out game out of nowhere, it’s Klay Thompson. Specifically Game 6 Klay Thompson. And if he doesn’t? How you doin’, Jordan Poole?
  5. Play with discipline. Counting the playoffs, the Warriors have lost 44 times this season. Yet only one team has consistently beat them: themselves. Sometimes it’s turnovers. Sometimes it’s getting upset at the refs. Sometimes it’s getting frustrated and picking up technical fouls. Sometimes it’s simply not giving effort. The Lakers will try and goad the Warriors into falling apart. There will be theatrics. There will be physicality. There will be trash talking. The Warriors simply have to stay composed. Don’t argue with the refs. Don’t argue with each other. Don’t bite on the taunting. And for the love of god, don’t make stupid passes for turnovers.
  6. Let the chef cook. We all saw what happened in Game 7 in Sacramento. We all know the one massive advantage the Warriors have that neither the Lakers nor any other NBA team has. Steph Curry is suiting up for the Dubs. And if he gets to cooking, the Warriors will have a chance.

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