After a heartbreaker in Denver this past Saturday, it’s obvious Mark Jackson has to make some adjustments if he wants a different outcome for Game 2. It won’t be easy, as the Golden State Warriors lost the reliable play of David Lee for the rest of the post-season when he tore his hip flexor. Expect Carl Landry to step in for Lee, but focus on who replaces Landry’s old role. Will we see more minutes from Festus Ezeli or will we see Andris Biedrins play a meaningful part for the Warriors. Either way, these are my five keys to Game 2.
1) Box out, box out, and box out – I can’t emphasize this point more; it’s easily the biggest key to this game. On Saturday, the Dubs allowed both Wilson Chandler and Andre Iguodala to grab 10+ rebounds each. They Nuggets also get the Manimal, Kenneth Faried, back in game 2, and it’s no secret that Faried is a great rebounder. And just for fun, factor in Lee’s injury. Without David Lee and his 11 rebounds/game in there, a heavier burden is put on Bogut to clean the defensive glass, but the guards have to do it as well. The Warriors can’t allow offensive rebounds that often lead to easy buckets.
2) Offensive efficiency – The Warriors didn’t just have a bad shooting night, they had an awful one. Stephen Curry shot 35% from the floor, while Jarrett Jack shot 25% and went 0-5 from behind the arc. The Warriors can’t let this happen again, especially when they had clean looks. They have to make each possession count.
3) Perimeter defense – Andre Miller tore up the Warriors, especially in that pathetic 4th quarter. That performance was completely inexcusable, and a repeat performance would seal the Dubs fate in Game 2. The Warriors were also lucky that the Nuggets didn’t shoot well in Game 1, however, I expect that to change in the second game in the Pepsi Center. Bogut is a great help defender, but he can’t bail the guards out on every play, it’ll lead to his man being open right under the hoop. If Coach Jackson can get his guys to stay in front of their assigned men, the game will be a lot easier for Golden State.
4) Harrison Barnes – It’s time to grow up, rookie. HB40 always played well in big games at North Carolina, but it seems as if he left a majority of his game there. Barnes used to attack the basket and played more aggressively when he was in college, now Barnes has become so passive that the Nuggets were willing to leave him unguarded for half the game. Barnes can’t allow himself to be a non-factor in this game. He has to drive aggressively and he has to shoot with more confidence. His defense is great at times, but it can also be dreadful when he loses his confidence.
5) Establish offensive paint presence early and often – If the Warriors want to have a shot at winning, they’re going to have to go to Andrew Bogut/Landry in the paint multiple times in the first quarter. If Bogut dominates early, it opens up the offense more, and allows Golden State’s shooters to spread out around the court. David Lee was a reliable scorer in the paint and could hit the 15-foot jumper. Landry can brawl in the paint, but doesn’t have as good of a shooting stroke as Lee. The back-up bigs will have to help out and get involved in the offense as well. Festus Ezeli will actually have to catch and hold on to the ball while Biedrins will have to get over his phobia of offense. I’m not expecting much from these two, but if Bogut can score 10-15 points, it’ll alleviate the pressure of scoring from Jack, Curry and Thompson.