The Golden State Warriors miraculously won Game 5 to force a Game 6 back at Oracle Arena. Among the necessary adjustments, the Warriors’ passing should be an easy fix.
Game 5 of the NBA Finals was a rollercoaster of emotions that ultimately led to a victory for the defending champs, despite the odds stacked against them. After withstanding an onslaught of scoring from Kawhi Leonard in the fourth quarter, the backcourt of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson came up huge in crunch time to lead the Golden State Warriors to victory over the Toronto Raptors.
There were numerous factors at play that made the Warriors’ season look to be on its last legs. Leonard’s stellar fourth quarter, the reoccurring injuries to Kevon Looney and Kevin Durant (the latter of which looks to be an Achilles tear), and the gap in depth between the two teams’ supporting casts.
But among them has been a staple of this Warriors’ dynasty, an attribute that seems to be the repercussions of the free-flowing system in Golden State: careless passing that leads to turnovers.
During the Game 5 broadcast, Jeff Van Gundy hit the nail on the head when questioned what happened to the days of having two hands on the ball, making a safe pass to another teammate, and catching the ball with two hands subsequently?
Golden State’s system of passing is a sight to see when running smoothly, but it can cause players’ to be careless when they shouldn’t be.
Through five NBA Finals games so far, the Warriors have not won the turnover battle, either matching Toronto’s total number of turnovers or exceeding it.
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Credit a good amount of this to Toronto’s capable defenders who clog the lanes and actively look to deflect passes. But as many can attest to, a good number of these turnovers are at the literal hands of the defending champs.
The Warriors’ tend to place themselves in situations to make it harder, whether consciously or not. In recent history, Golden State’s sheer dominance in talent would negate those situations. But now, the Warriors’ do not have that added luxury, which means they simply cannot afford to be careless with the basketball.
If this sounds rhetorical and very much fundamental, its because it is. It’s an easy to fix t make and if Steve Kerr emphasizes the decision to make the safe, crisp passes when they’re called for, it could pay dividends for the defending champs in Game 6.
Despite having double-digit leads throughout the series, the Warriors always seem to find themselves clinging on in crunch time or squandering it late in the game.
Toronto has not been fazed and always has a counter punch to the scoring runs from Golden State. As a result, the Warriors’ can’t afford to give extra possessions away so easily.
It’s an easy and simple fix, but still, down 3-2 heading back to Oracle, it’s a fix that the defending champs need to make should they want to survive a tough Game 6 and force a potential Game 7.
The void left by Durant is arguably impossible to replace, the injuries accumulated may only get worse from here on out, but valuing each possession and making the smart pass is a fix that is easily attainable right from tip-off Thursday night.