The Golden State Warriors had a great run in the 2013 NBA Playoffs, getting past the Denver Nuggets in the first round despite being the lower seed, and being the only team to play the San Antonio Spurs and not get swept so far. It was quite an improvement from last year, but there was still one gaping hole for the Warriors.
Who’s going to be the finisher down the stretch?
It was an obvious problem in Game 6 against the Nuggets, when the Warriors blew an 18-point lead only to win by four points. It also was apparent in Game 1 the Spurs, when they blew a 16-point lead with four minutes remaining in regulation. They lost the game in double-overtime. If the Warriors cannot prevent their opponents from scoring, they should at least be able to trade baskets.
There are a couple of clutch players on the Warriors, but they were never really utilized. Inexperience and inconsistency were problems, as well as failure to execute. The Warriors need a player that can go one-on-one, and win almost every time, or at least get a good shot. There are a couple of different scenarios with different players.
1. Stephen Curry:
One-on-one from the top of the key, be sure that Curry is going to pull up for a contested three, but make it look easy because he has a perfect release. If the Warriors need to score down the stretch, everyone is going to say that Curry should be the first option, but he’s not necessarily the best one. He can shoot threes, yes, but when he gets into the paint, he has a hard time finishing tough shots.
He has the capability, but the Warriors need to look for a good shot down the stretch: Go to him for 3-pointers.
2. Jarrett Jack:
The best one-on-one player for the Warriors, without a doubt, is Jack. His ability to take defenders to the basket or shoot the jump shot is amazing.
It’s very important for the Warriors to utilize Jack in crunch time. Most of the time, the ball is in his hands, but he makes careless mistakes or turns the ball over carelessly. When he’s not having a good night, he cannot make any shots. This is why he can’t be the immediate option. What the Warriors need to do coming down the stretch is to use him on an “on-night.”
3. Klay Thompson:
Thompson is a great shooter, but lacks the consistency needed to produce. When he’s on fire, clutch shots are no problem– they’re just another shot. Thompson has the mentality, “why would I be worried about a shot I haven’t taken yet?” With that kind of focus, he makes a lot of critical baskets that gets the Warriors out of some trouble. Other defenders struggle to guard him, mainly because he’s a huge shooting guard at 6’7″. If the Warriors need some quick baskets and scoring, they should go to Thompson in the post, where he can potentially be effective.
4. Harrison Barnes:
For the Warriors, Barnes is the most ideal player to be closing out games. He can drive to the basket, shoot the ball, and make free throws when he really needs to. In the playoffs, he struggled with inconsistency, but most lottery picks don’t have too much pressure on them because they don’t play for good teams. The Warriors, however, were a lottery team, and Barnes was a role player. He really helped the Warriors out when doing everything. He may not know it yet, but down the stretch, the ball needs to be in his hands.