Gregg Poppovich, the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs said that he was thankful that Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry weren’t both on fire in the same night. That may have been even more disastrous for the Spurs. So far in the series, however, Thompson’s defense has been an X Factor, but there are many more that both teams are going to have to have in order to win this series.
This is exactly what the Golden State Warriors did to the Nuggets: lost game one in heartbreaking fashion, after blowing a lead, came back very strong in came two, learning how to close out the game, and headed home for two home games. As well all know, the Warriors won those two games and came away with a 4-2 series win, which was almost inevitable.
With that being said, so far, Thompson and Curry have been the Warriors’ two lifelines, and with the adjustments that the Spurs’ coaching staff is able to make, this game three is going to be hard for those two players. It’s tough to guard Curry, but Thompson is a bit more streaky. Chances are, neither of them are going to score 30+ points tonight like they did in games one and two. This is why the Warriors need someone else to step it up. Going in order, that would be Harrison Barnes.
Not just because of the order, but it’s because Barnes has some growing up to do. Not that he’s immature, but he still needs to find a way to put the ball in the basket. His scoring output has increased in the playoffs, but he’s going to have to find a way to hurt the Spurs like Kawhi Leonard hurts the Warriors. Barnes is capable of scoring at least 20 in front of the home crowd, we know this, but whether he does it or not will be a huge X Factor for the Warriors. Then, Poppovich has to deal with Curry, Thompson, and even Barnes, who will start hitting the three ball.
The Warriors are a decently streaky team, which means they won’t be hitting 3-pointers every night. Of course, the Spurs still can’t leave Thompson and Curry open, but it’s always nice to know you have a bailout man who can take the ball to the basket and create something out of nothing. Now that Jarrett Jack has calmed down and is passing the ball, his scoring output will go down, leaving Barnes some space to score high numbers.
It’s a stretch but I’m sure that Poppovich knows how to deal with a deadly shooting backcourt like Thompson and Curry. What would be nice, for the Warriors, is if Barnes can surprise him by scoring 20 points and hitting some 3-pointers in his own mind. The Spurs certainly won’t be expecting that.