Game 1 Western Semi’s Reaction

Probably the toughest game to watch. This is the type of game they write books about. Books that are sold in Texas. The Spurs had no shot in that game. If Richard Jefferson hits a pair of free throws late in regulation, you’re reading an entirely different article. If the Warriors collectively score more than 2 points in the last 4 minutes of regulation, the series takes a totally different swing. The Warriors go up 1-0 and are in the driver’s seat to make it to the Western Conference Finals. One of the main issues, other than a complete lack of late game execution, was the defensive break downs in the most crucial of moments. Jarrett Jack, not once, but twice was in the complete wrong spot in closing seconds of each OT. The most egregious being the utter lack of spacing by the Warriors on the inbounds with 3 seconds left  in the 2nd OT. 4 guys were on the inbounder half of the front court, with Bazemore somehow having to guard Diaw under the hoop and Ginobili on the wing. This is utterly unacceptable. I get that Bogut couldn’t be out there for any of his hundreds of reasons, but Jack is becoming a liability in these big moments. These are the times he is supposed to be clutch. He’s one of the most experienced vets the Warriors have, and he never seems to be in the right place on late game defensive rotations.

Curry had a lot of difficulty getting his shot up off the dribble in the 4th and both OTs. The Warriors would make sure Curry had the ball in his hands basically the entire length of the floor to ensure he would be the one creating a shot for someone else or himself, but give the Spurs credit, when Curry was handling the ball, he never got an easy shot. His runnners in the lane were difficult, but they were the only shots falling for him.

Curry comes alive in the 3rd quarters, not in 4ths. There is a running theme with the scoring bursts Curry has been providing the Warriors. He loves to come out of halftime ready to shoot, and that’s wonderful. He just needs to maintain this killer instinct all the way through the 4th quarter. The Spurs had a ton of success against Curry using Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, both very solid defenders. They forced Curry to miss all 7 of his jump shots in 4Q and OT.

The Warriors also need to stop playing Knicks-brand hero-type ball. Jack and Curry are the worst offenders of this. Standing around in the 4th until there’s 7 seconds left on the shot clock, making a quick move and taking a step back or fallaway jumper. This usually doesn’t even work for J.R. Smith or Carmelo Anthony. It will not be successful against the Spurs.

That was the game the Warriors were supposed to steal. It was tailor made. No Splitter. Very limited Duncan late. The Spurs come back but gave the Warriors a chance late in regulation. Spurs are down a handful in OT, make a run, but give it right back to the Warriors who had a chance to seal it.

Bogut had one of his worst games of this playoff run. His lack of movement to contest shots off the pick and roll was shocking. Tony Parker did not shoot great from his mid-range spots, but hit enough to lead the Spurs to their big come from behind victory. Parker will shoot a better percentage on these shots, and he will continue to remain open if Bogut doesn’t guard outside the lane. Also, Hack-a-Bogey was in full effect before the end of the first half and was not-so-surprisingly effective. He went 0-4 during that stretch and let the Spurs make the game close again going into the half. So much happened after this, but his FT percentage needs to be addressed.

Although he had a great game, you can’t rely so heavily on the rookie, Harrison Barnes. On the swing passes after the double teams on Curry, Barnes is, once again, the guy left open and he hit a few, but not all of his late game threes. One specifically late in the first OT would have essentially ended it.

Can the Warriors come back. There’s two ways to look at this game. The Warriors might think to themselves, ‘This was the one to steal, and we blew it,’ or ‘We’ve got these guys on their heels and we know we can beat them.’ And granted, they almost did win the game despite blowing another huge lead (16) in the fourth. Mark Jackson has his greatest challenge of his coaching career leading up to game 2 on Wednesday night. He needs to motivate his guys and let them learn from their mistakes. (Although they haven’t shown the ability to do that from game 6 to now.) The last 4 min of regulation was an epic collapse. There’s no other way around it. Jackson needs to give the sermon of his life to get this team ready for game 2.

The whole game changed when Thompson came out. He’s a game changer on defense. I never thought I would ever type those words, but the whole game took a different turn as soon as he fouled out. The huge Spurs run began right as he was making his way to the bench. But for Klay, it’s about more than just picking up bad ‘ticky-tack’ type fouls. His body language, both on the court and on the bench, is embarrassing. He complains and puts his hands on his head after every time he’s called for a foul, and upon fouling out, I never saw him stand up once during the rest of the 4th and any of the OTs. He was acting pouty and it did nothing but put the Warriors on their heels and make them feel more pressure. This needs to change. He needs to become Kent Bazemore on the bench. Show enthusiasm. Be a good team mate.

Great Grantland article by Zach Lowe about the importance of size in the playoffs.

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