Although the Warriors aren’t completely out of the woods, they have a very good opportunity to clinch tonight, as they could do so by beating the Wolves and having the Jazz fall to the Thunder. It’s unlikely that the Lakers will lose to the Hornets, but hey, you never know. Unfortunately for the Dubs, are disheartening loss to the Jazz showed some huge wholes.
The fact that Stephen Curry couldn’t score or shoot down the stretch was scary, and the fact that the Warriors were out-hustled and looked weak out was as well The bright side is that they’ve done just enough, knocking on wood, to make the playoffs, and they could make a deep run.
Defining success: Go to a Game 7 in the first round (or get past the 1st round and win at least one game in the second round). Here are a few of the things that the Warriors will need to do to be considered a threat next year.
1. Get Harrison Barnes Going:
Barnes is the Warriors biggest threat driving to the basket. Whenever he makes a decisive move, he gets to the basket, draws the foul or finishes. Other than that, he produces highlight plays, which everyone loves. What he doesn’t realize is that he’s a lot better than he knows, and once Mark Jackson realizes that, Barnes will get some crunch time minutes, perhaps in place of Jarrett Jack or Klay Thompson.
If he can gain some confidence with his decisive moves to the basket, he can also find the bottom of the net with his jump-shots. The next thing you know, he’s got about 15-16 points. This is good too, because the Warriors will need the additional offensive boost come this postseason.
2. Work On Defense:
The Warriors are an excellent defensive team, but sometimes teammates let each other down, or simply lose focus. When lazy, David Lee will allow his man to score on him. For example, he allows guys like Paul Millsap (of the Utah Jazz) wide open jumpers, and a lot of the power forwards in the league can hit that. The only player who’s consistently good with defense is Klay Thompson. The one mistake he makes, however, is jumping at every shot fake.
Andrew Bogut is a great defender, but when he has off-nights, he fails to produce on any end of the floor, making him useless. He needs to get on the floor, dive for lose balls, and contest each and every shot. He hasn’t even been playing that much lately, but that’s what it takes. Hard work for each and every minute that you play.
3. Run Isolations for Klay Thompson;
Many haven’t realized, but Klay Thompson is a couple inches taller and stronger than most guards in the NBA. If they have guys like Mo Williams on him, they’re going to take that matchup every time. This is exactly what they did for him. Thompson may not be a great one-on-one player, but on the post, he can hit that turnaround and utilize the pump fake. When he’s not just jacking up threes, he’s a pretty efficient scorer.
4. Find a Closer:
Each playoff team (except the Nuggets) has a closer that will score under pressure. With Curry’s disappearance in the fourth troubling, the Warriors have yet to find that guy. Harrison Barnes is only a rookie, but will be the eventual closer coming with experience. Jarrett Jack, if having a good night, is the best option.
If not, however, he can’t be trusted to make the right pass. He sometimes hogs the ball, gets caught up in the air, and turns it over. Every possession is crucial in the playoffs, and he cannot make those mistakes. Having a good night? He won’t let you down.
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry are the other two who should be holding the basketball. Against the Rockets and the Suns, Klay Thompson’s 3-pointers were game-saving and the Warriors may have been in a different place. Also, he drained a game-winning 3-pointer against the Kings and played the defense on the other end to help the Warriors pick up the win.