The Warriors continue to roll in the postseason after defeating the Blazers in just five games. Their historic quest for the 73 wins is a thing of the past now, and their only objective is to win the NBA title. It’s clear, in their minds, that anything less than a championship will be a failure, and the fantastic regular season will have practically gone to waste.
Obviously, the Warriors are the favorites to win the title, but something is up with their game. They’re playing in a level slightly inferior to their dominating days during the season. Certain things that most people tend to ignore or they are simply blinded by the fact that they kept finding other ways to win.
For example, against Portland, they struggled to defend the 3-pointer. Often times, they would rotate too slow or could not defend the pick and roll, and the Blazers would have completely open 3-pointers. Portland shot over 40% from behind the arc in three of the five games in the series and scored at least 100 points every game, except for Game Two. Though the Warriors’ opponents averaged 104.1 PPG during the regular season, it’s important to remember that most of the games were concluded with “garbage time”.
Golden State would also struggle in the first-quarter and would have to depend on a fourth-quarter rally to win the game. Against the Blazers, they were down at the end of the opening quarter three times, including twice in Oracle. In Game Four, they were fortunate to have a rusty Steph Curry come out and save them during OT.
Lastly, they need to correctly establish the proper defensive match-ups all throughout the game. Both superstars they’ve faced (yes Lillard is a superstar) have caused them headaches in both series. Lillard averaged 31.8 PPG and Harden scored 26.6 PPG. Both Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson are capable of marking the star PG/SG, but, at times, none of them are on the court due to rest or foul trouble. Instead of putting a weaker defender on the superstar, they should be able to understand the situation and learn to defend the player as a team.
With no disrespect towards the Blazers and the Rockets, both teams had no real hope of defeating Golden State. They were realistically on an inferior level than the Dubs. Therefore, many of the Warrior’s mistakes were overlooked, and they were still able to get the results needed.
However, against teams like Oklahoma City, San Antonio or even Cleveland, those mistakes could cost them. They’re all teams of the same caliber as the Warriors, who are capable of potentially defeating them.
The return of MVP Steph Curry will certainly benefit the defending champions and will relieve the pressure of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green as the team’s main offensive firepower. Green, who had 37 points during the Game Three loss, admitted to slacking off on defense and was not proud of his game despite his high point total.
It would not surprise me if the Warriors raised their competition level starting in the Conference Finals. They normally tend to step it up for the bigger games. After all, a mediocre team does not achieve 73 wins. The Dubs continue to be my pick for the title, but it is important to review and analyze the mistakes, because an early elimination could ruin arguably the best regular season in history.