Should the Golden State Warriors find themselves within close reach of a win this season, Eric Paschall must become the closer in those moments when called upon.
Despite the fan consensus that the Golden State Warriors should leverage any opportunity to increase the value of their looming lottery pick, victories in the NBA can help keep the psyche of a team afloat, even for lottery-bound teams.
This Warriors roster will not be able to beat even average NBA teams on a nightly basis, so when the opportunity arises to get a win, Golden State must close when the moment comes.
Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder was one of those moments, where Golden State led by double digits throughout the night, including a ten-point lead with 3:10 left in the fourth quarter.
But opportunities for wins will not present itself so easily this season, so Golden State had to capitalize on Monday night. Suffice to say, they melted in the closing moments.
Up by ten, the Warriors failed to score another basket and fell to the Thunder 100-97. The loss was not as surprising as the lack of execution to close out the win. In the closing moments, the Warriors looked erratic and most notably, lacked a closer down the stretch.
If these Warriors were healthy, that closer would be Curry, Thompson, Green or Russell.
But on nights like these with the aforementioned group on the sidelines, someone must step up. Given the sample size we’ve seen from these Warriors so far, that closer should and will have to be Eric Paschall.
With injuries clouding this season, it has been Eric Paschall who has made the most of his opportunity, catapulting his name into the Rookie of the Year conversation even if he will likely not win the hardware by season’s end.
Paschall should be the go-to player during moments like Monday night, but first, he must overcome the struggles that prevented him from doing so.
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Paschall had 13 points on six-of-nine shooting and could have done more damage were it not for turnovers and foul calls. The turnovers must be cleaned up, but plenty of emphasis needs to be made on avoiding the fouls he accumulated (five) against defenders like Danilo Gallinari.
Gallinari simply knows how to take advantage of a player like Paschall, who likes to leverage his strength and bulldoze his way to the rim as opposed to doing damage from midrange.
One may call it “flopping” but regardless, Gallinari successfully absorbed contact and forced three offensive fouls on Paschall.
Those three fouls disrupted his rhythm, regulating him to the bench and forcing him to watch from the sideline as the Warriors struggled to hold onto multiple double-digit leads throughout the game and into crunch time.
By the time Paschall would enter, it arguably was too little too late, and even the rookie was a culprit of poor offensive execution down the stretch.
In moments like Monday night, it cannot be Ky Bowman, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III or even Jordan Poole (who has been struggling) to be the closer for these Warriors. It has to be Eric Paschall, but in order to become the closer he has to work towards allowing himself to help contribute in those situations.
Against the Thunder, turnovers and especially offensive fouls hindered an opportunity for the second-round pick. Another loss but more importantly another lesson to be learned for Paschall and these young Warriors. Now, it’s up to him to right the wrongs come the next moment.