2015 Warriors Playoffs – Grizzlies Swallow The Warriors Whole Again

2015 Warriors playoffs

It was like game two all over again, only worse.

While watching game two, I always felt the Warriors were a run away from coming back and winning a game in which the Grizzlies were comfortably ahead.

While watching game three, I didn’t have that same feeling.

These last two games have been a lesson for the Warriors in playoff basketball. Those same open looks they were getting in the regular season and in the first round of the playoffs aren’t always there in the second round, or at least there as easily.

Even Chuck D is shouting about it.

But the lesson the Warriors are learning needs to be expedited. Because if they lose two more games, it’s adios muchachos.

It’s an interesting place for the Warriors to be. They’re a young team and one in which has only recently had any playoff experience whatsoever. After beating Denver and pushing San Antonio two years ago as playoff rookies, they took their lumps in a seven gamer last year against the Clippers in a series in which Andrew Bogut was hurt. But this year? They don’t have any excuses.

They were very fortunate when it came to injuries this year. Bogut played the majority of the teams’ games and outside of David Lee, they weren’t missing any key cogs. Lee’s injury actually helped them as it allowed Draymond Green to blossom into the perfect stretch four.

At least, he’s perfect for them in just about every series except this one. In this one, he’s expending a lot of energy having the guard the very large Marc Gasol while helping on Zach Randolph. If the Warriors are able to get rebounds and run, it’s probably a good tradeoff because neither Gasol or Randolph would be able to keep up with him on the other end. But if the pace continues like in game two and three, it’s clearly advantage Grizz.

Stephen Curry spent large amounts of games two and three dribbling through traps rather than passing through them. He’s been playing the last two games like he has to win the games by himself. I’d like to see Steve Kerr have Klay Thompson bring the ball up a bit more so Curry could get a head start in coming off screens.

The Warriors ran some of the best offensive sets all year long when it came to getting open shots. Their mentality has been to pass until they get the best possible shot. In this series, Thompson and Curry specifically have been shooting early as if they feel they need to get a shot off before the defense collapses on them. Logic should dictate that if the Grizzlies are trapping high, moving the basketball should be easier. The Warriors should simply run their offense through and through.

But that’s where the Grizzlies pace and defense comes in. Because the playoffs allow for a more physical style of game, the Warriors seem to expect that fouls are going to be called when they get grabbed or pushed and they’re simply not. I’m sure Kerr wants them to play through it all, including Green, who has been rattled a bit because he is trying to model the physical style, but ending up with more of the whistles. He lost his focus a few times, allowing his emotions to get the best of him, which didn’t help with the Warriors’ tempo.

All in all though, the Warriors should see that they’ve had open opportunities in both losses. While the Grizzlies’ defense has been stingy, open shots are there. Some will say that they’ve missed those open shots due in part to looking out of the corner of their eye, but I’m not sure how you can really measure that.

What you can measure is this:

Simply put, if the Warriors continue to miss open looks, the series could be over sooner than anyone ever believed. But if they settle down and make shots they’ve made all year long, including against the Grizzlies in game one of this series, it can quickly shift back to Oakland tied at two.

(Kerr might want to react more quickly to things than he has been. He went with Festus Ezeli for a long look rather than going small earlier in the third quarter when the game was getting out of hand.)

Which will it be? It’s really up to the Warriors. The Grizzlies are going to play their style of the game unchanged. They have one way to beat the Warriors and one way only.

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