After going up 2-1 in the Western Conference Finals series against the Houston Rockets, the have suffered two back-to-back disappointing losses and are now on the brink of elimination.
In Game 3, they blew out Houston by 41 points, and it looked like they were clicking on all cylinders on their way to another NBA Finals appearance, but the Rockets have stunned the Warriors with two impressive victories. With one loss away from being eliminated, Steve Kerr and the Warriors must make smart adjustments to stay alive. Fortunately for them, Chris Paul will be out with a hamstring strain in Game 6.
Cut the turnovers
The most obvious issue with the Warriors has been their turnovers.
They are turning the ball over so much as if they are a young inexperienced playoff team like the Philadelphia 76ers. The type of turnovers they are committing is embarrassing, as they are fumbling the ball, overthrowing passes, and simply being loose with their dribble. Houston’s defense deserves a lot of credit for disrupting Golden State’s offense by being physical with them, but the Warriors need to regain focus and concentrate on making crisp passes, nothing fancy.
Ball movement and man movement
It seems like the ball movement and man movement has stopped for the Warriors mainly because they are being intimidated by Houston’s defense. The Warriors must be aggressive and players need to cut to the basket like we’ve been accustomed to seeing them do in the past. The Warriors offense is very stagnant because they are heavily relying on Kevin Durant isolation plays.
As a result, Durant had zero assists last game, and Golden State had 18 as a team, which is approximately 11 fewer than what they averaged throughout the regular season. The ball and bodies need to be moving again because it’s obvious that Durant’s isolation is hurting them.
Playing JaVale McGee
JaVale McGee was heavily involved in the Warriors’ rotation but has been riding the bench throughout the conference finals. Perhaps Coach Kerr needs to go back to giving McGee minutes, so he can match the athleticism and length of Clint Capela. Instead, Kerr has been giving Kevon Looney a lot of minutes, but McGee would probably be a better option in this series.
McGee is long and athletic enough to help the team disrupt James Harden’s penetration and lob passes going towards the basket. He is also a capable rebounder, who can help Draymond Green on the boards. Starting McGee would probably be a reasonable adjustment since he played extremely well in the earlier series’ when he was in the rotation.
Andre Iguodala’s health
At the end of the day, the Warriors may need a healthy Andre Iguodala. He may not be the team’s star player, but he is their best defender on either Harden or Paul. Iguodala’s defensive presence Stephen Curry, who was stuck guarding those two often times. After two terrible losses, it’s clear that Iguodala is needed for the Warriors to be successful against the Rockets due to matchup purposes.
The Warriors have been in this situation before in the 2016 Western Conference Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder when they were down 3-1 and came back. This was before acquiring Kevin Durant. In this case, they are only down 3-2 and have the next game at home. However, if they tie the series, they will have to win a Game 7 on the road.