Three main things went wrong last night for the Golden State Warriors.
1. They mistakenly believed that they were playing with the basketball from Space Jam that zaps an NBA player’s talent.
2. They thought that letting Blake Griffin score whenever he wanted was the “right” thing to do.
3. They forgot to defend their own basket.
Put all three points together and the result is a forty point loss.
First we tackle point number one. The Warriors appeared to have no interest in holding onto the basketball.
You can’t win if you can’t score. And you can’t score if you can’t hold onto the basketball. In two games against the Clippers, the Warriors have done a horrific job holding onto the basketball. In their Game One victory of the Clippers, they turned the ball over 23 times. They were bailed out by their three point shooting which salvaged what otherwise would have been an impossible game to win. In Game Two, their three pointers weren’t falling, they shot a mere 21.1 percent, and as a result their 26 turnovers were one of the main reasons for their downfall.
During the regular season the Warriors were inconsistent with their turnover numbers. They started the season by turning the ball over far too frequently. By the second and third month’s of the season, they turned the ball over far less. In the end their turnover percentage, a stat that tracks how many turnovers a team makes per 100 possessions, was 15th overall- the league average. They averaged a mere 14 turnovers per game in March and April which only further augments just how bad they have been so far in two games against the Clips.
Give the Clippers some credit, they are playing incredibly aggressive pick-and-roll defense, doubling Stephen Curry and going over screen’s, and forcing Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson to put the ball on the floor far more than they would like, but a lot of the Warriors turnovers are unforced quite frankly very careless. In the playoffs where it is a one possession game for 48 minutes, every possession counts and the Warriors lackadaisical attitude came back to bite them last night.
Problem number two for the Warriors is only two words. Blake. Griffin. 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting. 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Only 30 minutes of action.
The Warriors had no answer for the Los Angeles star power forward. Griffin dominated the Warriors from both blocks, from in the paint and even from midrange thanks to an improved jump shots. Without Andrew Bogut in the lineup, the Warriors have struggled keeping Griffin in check. Even during Game One, when Griffin fouled out, he still scored 16 points in 19 foul-filled minutes and looked to get any shot he wanted against a smaller Warriors frontline.
Problem number three goes alongside problem number two. And like problem number two there is no easy fix. The Warriors have zero interior post defense.
Clippers players are shooting an exorbitant 66.7 near the rim this series when either Harrison Barnes or Andre Iguodala are guarding them. They are shooting a slightly worse 54.5 percent when David Lee is checking them down low.
Without Andre Bogut to man the paint, the Warriors interior defense is non-existent. Bogut help opponents to only 45 percent shooting near the basket during the regular season which was the fourth best percentage of any frontcourt player who played more than 50 games. His ability to guard Griffin one-on-one has been missed this series as evidence by Griffin’s dominant Game Two performance. The Warriors have been trying everything. They have been playing some zone with Lee at the center position. They have tried playing Draymond Green at center with Harrison Barnes at power forward but not surprisingly both of those options have not turned out well. They have tried sticking David Lee on Griffin, but Griffin has only further exposed Lee’s porous defense.
During Game One with Griffin in foul trouble, the Warriors not surprisingly played better interior defense. You might say that the Warriors best defensive strategy comes from their offensive strategy. Their best bet might be continuing to attack Griffin on the offensive end of the floor, hoping that David Lee gets Griffin in foul trouble.
If the Warriors don’t fix all three of the problems above then don’t be surprised if the Warriors season lasts three more games. While a forty point loss is an outlier, don’t be surprised if the Warriors get blown out at least one more time, if not more if they don’t make plenty of adjustments on both ends of the floor.