Warriors’ All-Too-Familiar Flaws Becoming Their Demise


At Boston. At Utah. At Charlotte. At Minnesota. The list goes on and on.

The Warriors have failed to execute late in games this entire season. Last night’s Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals series against the Lakers feels like a microcosm of what everything that has gone wrong for Golden State this year.

They are now one loss away from ending their season. It looked too familiar when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were pressing to hit daggers, even when they did not need it. It looked too familiar when Jordan Poole displayed horrible body language after being subbed out in the first half. Draymond Green‘s turnover basically to ice the game was terrible, yet not all too surprising. There were a lot of plays and possessions the Warriors wish they had back, and that seems to be the theme of this season.

Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green has a viral quote that is still relevant today.

They are who we thought they were!” is is a perfect example to describe this roller coaster of a season. When looking back at all of the excruciating losses the Warriors had this year, Game 4’s loss is not appalling. The surprising part is those same issues that lost them those games are showing up at the most high-leverage moments in the playoffs.

If they have any chance of winning this series, those issues have to evaporate within the next 48 hours. As soon as the Warriors can snap out of the hex they have been under this season, maybe there is a chance for them to move on and win three games in a row.

Late-Game Blunders

There are several possessions the Warriors squandered on Monday night that put them on the brink of elimination. Two of the most egregious ones came on back-to-back shots by Thompson with about two minutes left in the fourth quarter. He chucked up a three from beyond the hashmark on the right sideline that hit off the backboard before clanking off the rim. Him, Curry and Poole have had their fair share of questionable shots in late-game situations all season.

After Lonnie Walker — who had a tremendous fourth-quarter performance — hit another crucial jumper, Thompson couldn’t help himself. He takes another off-balanced, contested three-pointer. Usually a shot like this is not as terrible as others, but at the time, it just was not a good idea to redeem himself like that. Thompson has made a hall-of-fame career playing the way he has, but even Steve Kerr was stunned.

This is the play Kerr called for when the Warriors needed a three to tie. It was a variation of the “Hammer Play” in order to get Thompson an open look in the corner. It may not have occurred to Kerr, however, that Darvin Ham was a part of the original creation of the Hammer.

This play works if the player that initiates the play with a drive is a threat to score. Green, even with Dennis Schröder guarding him, is the least of the Lakers’ worries on this play.

The Warriors need a three to tie the game. LeBron James knows Green is going to kick it out, and seeing Andrew Wiggins setting a screen for Thompson lets him know that he and Anthony Davis can switch the matchup and blow up the play.

Green is a player that is known never to hunt his own shot. The angle he took on his drive signaled a pass to the weak side, it basically telegraphed the play. He made a bad decision to get caught in the air while making a pass— turnover and game.

In-Game Adjustments

The Warriors’ offense is mostly predicated on ball and player movement. James, Coach Ham and the Lakers know this by now. The Warriors’ offensive success this series has been generated by having Curry run a lot of pick and rolls. Curry created great opportunities to score throughout the first half by involving whoever Davis was guarding. They ran that exact action 24 times and scored 1.25 points per chance.

In the second half, the Warriors only did that exact same action six times.

Who is more to blame, Curry or Kerr? Both Curry and the coaching staff should have known that throughout the game. The Lakers already pose a problem for the Warriors because they have the personnel to contain their usual motion offense. The stats also match what we were all seeing. Anyone other than Curry that tried to make a play with the ball didn’t have nearly the same amount of success.

It Has Happened Before

The Warriors are down 3-1 in a playoff series for the third time since Kerr has been head coach. It’s fitting that they are facing LeBron James, who completed the first 3-1 comeback in the NBA Finals against them in 2016. The first time was against the Thunder in the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The other time was in the 2019 Finals, in which they lost to the Toronto Raptors in six games.

3-1 comebacks have happened before. It takes perseverance and discipline, something that this year’s Warriors team has not shown too often. It also takes a little bit of luck— another component they have not had much of this season.

They are defending champions, so there is no doubt that this team will not go out without a fight. The real question is if they have the mental and physical fortitude to be successful in a comeback.

Both teams know each other’s strengths and weaknesses by now. It’s now all about going all out to keep the title defense alive possession by possession, quarter by quarter, game by game.

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About Christian Oblena

Born in San Francisco, raised in the East Bay, lifelong Bay Area sports fan. Here to give my own opinions on everything Dubs.

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