Sport Golden State looks vulnerable. Can Spurs do anything about it?

20:50  14 april  2018
20:50  14 april  2018 Source:   nbcsports.com

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The extended break between Games 2 and 3 doesn’t look like it was long enough — not to lift the Spurs ’ immediate fortunes, at least. If they do , anything can happen. For the Warriors fan’s perspective, visit Golden State of Mind. As always Tony must dominate Fisher.

After Game 1, I'm not sure there's anything San Antonio will be able to do to make this difficult for Golden State . Maybe the Spurs can take one at home, but it felt like Game 1 was their best chance to flip the entire narrative of the series.

a basketball player in front of a crowd© Getty Images

Steve Kerr has been frustrated in recent weeks with his team’s effort. Very frustrated. Walk into the shower, throw a bunch of bats on the floor and call them “lollygaggers” frustrated.

Golden State coasted the last month of the season, much of it without Stephen Curry, and went 7-10 in their final stretch of games. However, the Warriors problems go deeper than a lack of focus and being without Curry — Shaun Livingston has been banged up and not right, Andre Iguodala’s efficiency has dropped this season, and Draymond Green is still shooting just a tick above 30 percent from three. To name just a few things.

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“They’re tired and we’re vulnerable to the schedule we’ve been on,” said Golden State coach Steve Kerr. While San Antonio still trails Golden State by 1/2 game in the standings, the Spurs clinched the season series and the “Last summer,” he said. “When the schedule came out we looked at it .

In 2014, no one had seen anything like what Golden State did on a basketball court, and how The Spurs , morphing from the Tim Duncan/Tony Parker-led team to the Kawhi Leonard-dominant one. It ’s not just that they’re good, it ’s how they’re good that makes them look like the greatest challenge

The Warriors look vulnerable.

But can the Spurs do anything about it?

Probably not. San Antonio (without Kawhi Leonard, it would be a surprise if he came back now) doesn’t have the athletes. We saw it last year when these teams met in the playoffs and Leonard went down after Zaza Pachulia slid under him on a jumper, at that point the Warriors ran away with the series. The Spurs are not going to beat themselves, they will defend well and make smart plays, the Warriors are going to have to earn it — but Golden State should take the series fairly quickly.

Should. That’s the key, as Kerr said Friday (via Mark Medina of the Mercury News).

“They’re going to bring out the best in us or they’re going to completely expose us,” Kerr said after Friday’s practice. “One way or another, that’s probably a good thing for us.”

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(I know it seems like I can tell the future, and it 's true, I can) As far as this game goes, I think it 's fairly straight forward. Golden State is coming off of a Open Thread: Spurs look to clinch a playoff spot tonight in their last home game One last (guaranteed) chance to see the Silver & Black play at home.

It was arguably the most vulnerable Golden State has looked all season, though it 's easy to dismiss the result as a predictable consequence of insufficient superstar jelling. It remains difficult to imagine anyone pushing Golden State to a seventh game, but the Spurs seem like the best bet to do it .

It’s probably going to be the former — expect the Warriors to flip the switch.

Here are the things you’ll see Saturday at 3 ET (on ABC) if the sleeping Warriors have awakened.

• Defensive energy and focus. This is what the Warriors have lacked mostly over the past six weeks — since March 1 the Warriors have allowed 106.4 points per 100 possessions, 16th in the NBA. Not terrible by some standards, but last season the Warriors allowed just 101 points per 100, best in the NBA. In February of this season, when the Warriors focused for a while, they allowed just 102.3.

The defensive change needs to start from the team’s leaders — Kevin Durant and Draymond Green. Durant played fantastic defense in the Finals last season, and remember on Christmas Day he did it again against the Cavaliers (leading to some around the team to try and promote him for the All-Defensive team). Then he seemed to check out on that end. He needs to bring his focus back, create some turnovers with his length, and protect the rim a little.

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* * * True or false: The Golden State Warriors look more vulnerable now than they have at any time in the last four seasons. * * Now, it 's true Golden State could still outscore Houston; Luc Mbah a Moute and/or P.J. Tucker are going to They're mentally and emotionally exhausted more than anything .

The Warriors, Spurs , Clippers and Cavaliers look about as good on paper as the Thunder. It might be even more challenging to use them if they remain committed to their previous styles. But that’s just a guess. The Celtics look vulnerable with Irving hobbled, which is big update from yesterday, when

Green has been good but not dominant this season defensively, but that brings us to our next point…

• Draymond Green needs to take charge of this series. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One ties into our first bullet point above — he is the emotional leader of the Warriors. If they are going to snap out of their malaise, it starts with him. If he brings the defensive effort, others will follow.

More than that, Green has vital roles in this series.

Defensively, he will be matched on LaMarcus Aldridge for key stretches — and with Leonard out the San Antonio offense runs through Aldridge (and occasionally Pau Gasol). While Aldridge can shoot fadeaways or little hooks over the top of Green, historically he has struggled to do that efficiently against Green’s physical defense. It also just isn’t going to be one-on-one because the Spurs don’t have enough shooting to space the floor out and scare the Warriors if Aldridge passes out. If Green (and Zaza Pachulia, and David West) can make Aldridge work for his buckets, it becomes difficult for the Spurs to score enough.

No Curry, no problem: Warriors handle Spurs in Game 1

  No Curry, no problem: Warriors handle Spurs in Game 1 No Curry, no problem: Warriors handle Spurs in Game 1Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson took charge in Game 1 of the first-round series to elevate the Warriors' intensity at last playing without fellow All-Star and injured two-time MVP Stephen Curry, sidelined since March 23 with a sprained left knee.

This year the Warriors look vulnerable . Golden State is all but officially locked in as the two seed. The West is still a jumbled mess, but most likely the Warriors will face one of the Pelicans, Spurs , Timberwolves or Jazz, in a 2-7 matchup. Then anything can happen.

Of course, that wouldn’t be anything new. In each of the last 11 years (from 2007-2017), at least one team with home-court advantage has lost a first round series. When this season started, it was hard to imagine a scenario where the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors weren’t meeting in

On offense, the Warriors need playmaking Green to return and take on a bigger role. He needs to grab rebounds and push the tempo in transition, in the half court they need him to roll down the lane with the ball then kick-out to the open shooters. He’s more than capable of this, we’ve just seen less of it this season.

• Kevin Durant needs to lead — and that’s as much defense as offense. Last season during the Finals Durant was a defensive force, that won him Finals MVP as much as his offense. That continued through the first part of this season up through the Christmas Day game against the Cavaliers — he was playing so well some around Golden State tried to push him for Defensive Player of the Year (or at least a spot on the All-Defensive team). However, after that Durant seemed to coast a little on defense. He wasn’t the same. The Warriors need the earlier Durant back.

On offense, he’s going to get all the touches and shots he wants, Durant just needs to be efficient and a playmaker.

• Other scorers step up besides Durant. KD is going to get his, and Klay Thompson will knock down threes and put up numbers as well, but when the Warriors are clicking the ball moves, guys are cutting, and the role players get clean looks and join in the scoring.

Will a fresh and rested Andre Iguodala get some buckets on hard cuts to the rim? Will David West knock down some midrange jumpers? Can Quinn Cook continue to impress? Will the center by committee group of Pachulia/JaVale McGee/Kevon Looney/Jordan Bell pitch in buckets?

The Warriors will need them because the Spurs can still defend and will make life challenging for Golden State’s big three.

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