The Golden State Warriors performance in Game 5 was simply disheartening, and at times pathetic. They nearly allowed 40 points in the first quarter while failing to contain Tony Parker for the entire game. They lost track of their defensive assignments and were often late on their rotations. The Warriors strong suit was never their defense, but Game 5 was far below average.
Things weren’t much better on the offensive end, as both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson failed to make an impact. They both settled too often for jump shots, and they rarely took the ball to the hoop. It shows with their combined zero free throw attempts.
Most coaches will tell their players that if their jump shot isn’t falling, they should attack the basket, pick up fouls leading to free throws and build their confidence from the charity stripe. That didn’t happen Tuesday night.
It may have been Curry’s ankle troubling him. He often came up short on his shots, hitting the front of the rim multiple times. Thompson just wasn’t shooting well, and thus became more passive. Harrison Barnes played exceptionally well, though, tallying 25 points on 56 percent shooting.
Thursday will be perhaps the biggest game for a lot of players on the Warriors’ roster. Their backs are to the wall as they face the possibility of elimination on their home court. Yet, somehow, I still don’t believe that the series will end for the Warriors on Thursday night.
In most sports, I tend to disregard the effects of home-court advantage; I simply don’t buy into it being a huge difference-maker. But Oracle Arena is different, and it’s always has been that way. Their loud cheers can carry a team with the decibels they hit. It becomes hard to hear when the Spurs try to call out their plays, makes it difficult to concentrate when attempting free throws and improves morale among the Warriors.
But this is a two-way relationship. The crowd at “Roaracle” feeds off Golden State as much as the team feeds off them. If they Warriors don’t play well, the crowd can go silent, but once they go on a small run or hit a big shot, they erupt. They’re game-changers.
Curry and Thompson both had incredibly bad shooting nights. I don’t think they will have repeat performances like that in Game 6. They’re too good as shooters to do that again, and this time I’m sure they’ll attack the basket more often. The game rests on their shoulders, as they’ll be expected to carry the bulk of the offensive load for this game.
If the Warriors want to force a Game 7, they’ll also have to tighten up defensively. They’ve got to stop Parker from wreaking havoc, and they can’t get caught watching the game instead of their man. Beating the Spurs will require execution on both ends of the floor if they want to stick around for one more game.
It’s officially crunch time for this young team.