Morning Shootaround: There for the Taking
The true joy of Game 3 was that it felt like we were seeing the Spurs we know and love for the very first time this postseason. Even when we were rolling over the Lakers, it never quite felt like we were in sync; we just had more than enough to beat a teetering team. It took two strong punches from the Warriors and facing a tough road win to finally bring out the best in us.
By Game 4, the adjustments are made, the match-ups are tweaked, the teams know each other too well, and the games start getting tougher and rougher. I think the Spurs found a winning formula in Game 3, but there are still a few key areas in which the Warriors can control this series (outside of the potential of the always potent backcourt shooting):
–I’m still a bit worried about the Bogut-Duncan match-up. Bogut has always played Duncan tough, and these first 3 games are no different. Particularly when Duncan posts up in isolation, Bogut is really strong and fundamentally sound and rarely gets beat in those situations. Bogut also anchors the defense, and really clogs up our offense when he’s on the court. So it’s good to attack him early and try to get him into foul trouble. But going to Duncan in the post also really slows down our offense and stops the ball and player movement. Granted, it’s a great tool to have, and a way to give Parker a “breather” without taking him out. And late in games, that’s a powerful play to have in your back pocket (Duncan’s post-up at the end of Game 3 might have been the sealer), but I’d like to see less just throwing it into him in the post against Bogut, and more creativity getting it to him on the move, having him seal from the inside with great high-low passing, etc. Despite Curry and Thompson’s big games, I feel like the play of Bogut is more important in determining the success of the Warriors. When he goes off the court, our offense usually comes alive.
–Along those same lines, I’ve been really surprised at how well Golden State is outrebounding us. It’s always great to sneak in some offensive rebounds to steal extra possessions (Leonard is magnificent at this), but we really need to protect our own rim and finish defensive possessions. After being pretty poor at this in the first half of Game 3, it was quite clear that it was a point of emphasis in the second half and we did a much better job. If we can limit their second chance points, we’ll be in a great position.
–If we get even a half-decent game from Manu, we could blow them out.
–Despite all of this, Game 4 may come down to which starting PG is less hurt. Curry turned his ankle, Parker has a contusion in his calf muscle. I expect both to play, but if either is severely limited, both team’s offenses will be slowed down and the game could look really odd. If one is more healthy than the other, that team automatically becomes a heavy favorite. Both are remarkably tough for their size, and really gutty in playing through pain. However, both rely heavily on their quickness and sneakiness in movement, and can both be quite diminished if debilitated in movement. Ahh, the vagaries of playoff basketball.
The Spurs have a great chance to put a stranglehold on this series with another road win in Game 4. I’ll be interested to see the mindset and energy of the team at the beginning of this game. Most good teams would be happy getting a split on the road and regaining home court advantage; a championship team would go for the jugular on the road in Game 4.
I don’t know which team we are just yet.
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