To say the Golden State Warriors is having a bad series against the OKC Thunder is an understatement. It seems like the Thunder is beating the yellow legion to every lose ball, looks tougher, and certainly hungrier than the defending champs.
However, the Warriors managed to survive Game 5 at home and now faces a tall task of trying to salvage their season. No, 73-9 don’t mean a thing without the ring.
As hard as that can be, team as good as the Warriors, no matter how flustered they were, always has a chance to turn things around. Having said that, they will need to keep in mind several things in order to become just the 10th team in NBA history to come back from a 1-3 hole in a seven-game series.
Here are the 7 things Warriors should do to turn tide VS the Thunder:
1. No hero ball. Just execute.
Kevin Jones of KNBR.com said the Warriors are not a jump-shooting team but an executing team. That assessment is on the money.
The legions of open jump shots the Dubs take is a product of their system and therefore, its effectiveness is diminished the moment someone takes matters into his own hands, even if it’s Steph Curry or Klay Thompson, as good as they are.
The Thunder has done a very good job of getting the Warriors out of offensive rhythm with the help of size, athleticism, and sheer will. However, you just don’t let the other team do that. The Warriors should realize the more patient they are going to be in the half court, the better they are going to be.
Even if they are going to miss some shots, that will ultimately bring down the turnover count which tops out at 34 total in Games 3 and 4.
2. Play straight-up, stop the pseudo-zone.
If the plan is to let Andre Roberson beat the Warriors because he couldn’t, well, I guess he has just shown that he could. The youngster from Colorado has scored 37 total points in the first 11 playoff games this year but has brought the total up to 48 in the five games so far in the 2016 Western Conference finals.
Roberson was often deliberately left by his man and he has punished the Warriors defense in a way that they have not imagined. It’s obvious that they could not keep on doing this or they will just get burned.
Simple solution is to play the man straight up, hide Curry on him and put Klay Thompson on Russell Westbrook and play straight up. They could still use the ‘let A-Rob shoot’ strategy late in the game where pressure is high in an attempt to stifle the equally high-powered Thunder offense.
3. No small-ball.
Look, the Thunder has simply prepared for that and figured it out. Beautifully.
Suddenly, the Warriors’ lineup of death is not so scary anymore, not with the likes of Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, and surprisingly, Kevin Durant upping their defensive game. In fact in this series, a lineup of Curry-Thompson-Green-Andre Iguodala–Harrison Barnes is one of the worst lineups Steve Kerr has fielded, with a net rating of -29.3 in 36 minutes on the floor together!
It may work against the majority of opponents but not this time around. Simple solution? Ditch them, at least only for this series.
4. Big men should step up.
Before Game 5, Kerr emphasized Andrew Bogut’s importance to the team and how the Warriors needed the Aussie big man on the court. Bogut has managed to stay on the floor for 17 minutes at most (Game 1 loss, no FGs attempted) and has only shot eight attempts through for games.
In Game 5, the former No. 1 overall pick went 7-for-9 and played almost 30 minutes and a huge double-double to give the Warriors a very needed physical presence down low. What’s more, reserve center Marreese Speights dropped 14 on only 8 minutes of play, and was part of the best Warriors lineup that stretched the lead for good early in the fourth.
Speights, along with Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston, Barnes, and Iguodala played six minutes together en route to a whopping 35.9 net rating.
Another way in which the Warriors bigs could step up is in the defensive rebounding department. The Thunder has gotten themselves a lot of second chances, 16 to be exact in Game 4 that the Thunder converted into 21 points. Again, as Kerr reiterated, if Bogut can play well and stay and on the floor, that solves a lot of the aforementioned problems for the Dubs.
Let’s put it this way: Draymond Green can get into somebody’s head but that is NOT what the Warriors primarily need from him. If he wastes his time doing that, he will be dragging the team down.
Al Saracevic offers one straightforward suggestion: Just let Draymond, be Draymond.
This man needs to play with passion and heart. He can’t worry about the repercussions. “I’m not going to try to worry about being sensitive,” Green said. “I just got to be me.” Words to live by.
Green interestingly said his fellow NBA players, even ones that he did not have close relationships with, reached out and talked to him about his uncharacteristic play. They are right.
Just play and everything will sort itself out.
Featured Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images/AFP via Inter Aksyon