Golden State Warriors Turnover Problem: Unforced Errors


Stephen Curry had a rough game 1 with only 14 points and 7 turnovers, but the Warriors were able to escape with a victory: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

If someone had said that the Warriors would win game one on the road in LA while turning the ball over 21 times and getting a combined 12-36 shooting night from Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, they would’ve been called crazy. After all, the Warriors were just 6-7 this season when having more than 20 turnovers, and three of those wins were against lowly Eastern Conference teams such as the Pistons and 76ers.

The Warriors win last night was even more improbable when looking at their assist-to-turnover ratio. They only managed 26 assists to go with their 21 turnovers, good for a ratio of 1.24 and their 26th worst of the season: their record in those previous 25 games: 11-14.

Simply put, the Warriors were lucky to escape with a victory last night and need to take better care of the ball if the want to have continued success in this series. They were fortunate to get away with a victory given the circumstances, and it is unlikely that Blake Griffin gets in as much foul trouble as he did last night (he fouled out just 4 times this season) and Chris Paul turns the ball over six times himself (only 3 times this season).

That said, the Warriors should be able to take better care of the ball in future games. Many of the turnovers that took place were lackadaisical passes that you can get away with from time to time in the regular season, but are too costly in the postseason when the lights are brightest. The main culprit of these types of turnovers has been the Warriors leader, Steph Curry.

Here’s three example of inexcusable, lazy entry passes by Curry from game 1 vs. the Clippers.

The first one may have been a miscommunication between Curry and Iguodala for where Iguodala was going, but regardless it is simply too lackadaisical for the postseason. Curry has one of the best passing off hands in the league with his left handed whip pass, but in that circumstance there is no reason for it – a regular chest pass could suffice. No one is even there to contest the pass.

The next turnover is a similar issue. Big baby reads that an entry pass is coming to David Lee and jumps the play, but because Curry has already begun his left hand whip pass motion, he cannot hold up and forces the issue, leading to a turnover and David Lee foul.

Finally, his last turnover of the game as possibly the most costly one. Everyone in the arena knew where the pass was going, and despite Collison’s good position of overplaying, Curry still forced the issue. There is no problem with swinging the ball and letting Klay repost, but instead Curry tries to fit the pass in, resulting in a turnover, foul on Klay, and the Clippers taking the lead for the first time in a while.

While its easier to understand the turnovers that Curry has when getting double teamed or driving in the paint, these are the turnovers that are most frustrating. They are wasted possessions that can give the opposition momentum, and in the playoffs when the game can come down to a single possession, they can prove to be extremely costly.

Klay Thompson had a great overall game, but also struggled with 4 turnovers of his own. Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

While many of Curry’s turnovers came from lazy passes, the majority of Warriors turnovers in last nights game came from forcing action that just wasn’t there. By my count, only six of the teams 21 turnovers were the result of pressure and hounding defense by the Clippers, while the rest were either offensive fouls, unnecessarily dribbling into traffic, or just plain bad passes. David Lee, Klay Thompson and Curry (again) were responsible for the majority of these types of turnovers, as well as the turnovers in general, combining for 17 of the 21 total.

The good new for the Warriors is they have taken care of the ball well as a whole during the second half of the season. After having the fifth worst turnover ratio in the league before the all star break, the Warriors cut down their turnovers since the break, rising to sixth best in the league. This charge has been led by Curry, who averaged only 3.2 in that span, down 0.9 from the first 51 games of the season. This type of game has been more of the exception than the norm recently, so they should be able to take better care of the ball from here on out. However, if they don’t get control of the issue this playoffs, they may be watching the playoffs from home quicker than they like.