The Golden State Warriors are done 2-1 in the NBA Finals and not many people seen that coming. After having a pace of 98.1 and averaging 108.6 ppg against the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors now have a pace of 89.7 and are only averaging 97.3 ppg against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Warriors were also down 2-1 against the Grizzlies and I hear people asking if this is the same thing. Well it’s not because the Grizzlies didn’t have LeBron James. Memphis was playing at a much higher pace and they could not consistently knock down three pointers. I don’t think the Warriors are going to put Andrew Bogut on Iman Shumpert and dare him to hit a shot.
It is the NBA Finals and Golden State has to take things more seriously. They were making a comeback in Game 3 before Steph Curry threw a behind the back pass to Draymond Green that went out of bounds. In that situation he has to be extra careful with the ball.
The Warriors have two major problems that they need to address going into Game 4. First they need to hit an open shot. In Game 3 they had 39 uncontested field goal attempts. An uncontested shot is measured if a defender is at least 3.5 ft. away. Golden State only hit 13 of those shots which is good enough for 33%. On the other side Cleveland shot 14-30 on uncontested shots which is 46.7%. Curry was 8-13 on contested shots but only 2-7 on uncontested shots including that wide open 3 pointer he missed when Iman Shumpert threw him the ball. In the only game that they won the Warriors were 23-44 (52%) on uncontested shots.
Draymond Green has to take advantage of uncontested shots. After shooting a career high 33% from three in the regular season, Green is now down to just 25% in the postseason. His confidence is low on both ends of the floor. He’s getting outworked on the glass by Tristan Thompson (23-42) and he is afraid to take open shots. Mike Prada of SB Nation had a great piece about the problem with the Warriors’ offense and he pointed out Draymond’s struggles. There was one picture in particular that sums up Draymond’s confidence for the series.
The second adjustment is not allowing LeBron James to control everything. The man is playing 47 minutes per game in the series and is controlling the tempo. He walks the ball up the court starts the offense and then gets the ball on the block. He knows his team so he is never in a hurry to get up a shot. Not only does Golden State have to pressure him up the court as many people have suggested but they need to attack him on the other end.
LeBron James is resting on defense. He is roaming around like a Free Safety because he does not respect the Warriors shooters not named Klay Thompson and Steph Curry. Harrison Barnes was 0-8 in Game 3. He was 0-4 on both contested and uncontested shots. With every shot his confidence went down and LeBron knew he didn’t have to pay him any attention. Barnes had a short night only playing 19 minutes. Andre Iguodala had a solid game but he thrives in the open court. In half court sets LeBron was sagging off of him and daring him to shoot. Most teams would live with Iguodala taking 8 three pointers.
LeBron James is a great player but you have to make him work on both ends. Yes Andre Iguodala is playing solid defense on him at times but on the other end LeBron can roam and cause havoc. Look back at those Finals against the Spurs. LeBron was really good but he had to guard Kawhi Leonard on the other end. He couldn’t rest on defense at all because Kawhi was attacking him or moving without the ball. Barnes and Green combined were 2-18 for seven points in Game 3 and that is not good enough to get LeBron’s attention.
It was another wild finish at the end of Game 3. It was the first time all series that the Warriors scored at least 30 points in a quarter. David Lee came in and played well however Warrior fans should not be that excited about Lee playing more. He did score 11 points in 13 minutes but he was bad on defense and picked up five fouls in the process. If Lee plays more then he will be in a lot of pick-n-rolls with LeBron James.
Steph Curry finally got it going but I don’t think that carries over into the next game. Some of them were good open looks while others were just bad shots that he needed to take. One thing that should carry over is his mindset. When he got desperate he got aggressive. Before the 4th quarter started he was only 4-11 from the field. He was 6-9 in the 4th quarter. Throughout the night he was making the right plays and his teammates were missing or passing up shots. In Game 4 he has to be aggressive from the start even if his shot is not falling. He is the MVP and the Warriors will look to him when things get rough.
This is the biggest game of their season and Golden State needs everyone to step up to the challenge. Curry must lead but the entire team must have confidence in Game 4.