After dispatching the Memphis Grizzlies rather handily in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, the Golden State Warriors took a minor step back in Game 2 on Tuesday. And while there wasn’t one particularly glaring issue that head coach Steve Kerr’s club dealt with throughout the night, there was a combination of things that need to be addressed moving forward.
First and foremost, is once again familiarizing themselves with a Mike Conley-led Grizzlies team. The Ohio State product was forced to miss the first game of the series after undergoing surgery to fix multiple facial fractures that he sustained against the Portland Trail Blazers in Round 1. In his absence, both Beno Udrih and Nick Calathes did an admirable job filling in for the veteran floor general. But with all due respect, neither of them brings to the table what Conley does.
Memphis has been dominant with Conley in the lineup to this point in the postseason (albeit in a small sample size). According to Basketball-Reference, the Grizz are nearly 20 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor compared to when he sits, including a minus-10.2-point difference in the team’s defensive rating (94.4/100 on, 104.6 off). This type of impact cannot be overstated, especially when the numbers indicate Memphis was worse off defensively with Conley active during the regular season.
But with Conley’s health being where it currently is, the Warriors would benefit from attacking him more often in Game 3. Whether that is by constantly running him off off-ball screens or attacking him off the dribble, it doesn’t matter. The seven-year pro told reporters at Wednesday’s practice that, in addition to his face, it’s his conditioning that he needs to recover.
“Anybody that’s taken a week off at the professional level knows that you can lose your wind real quick,” Conley said. “But you can get it back fairly quickly. I think a couple of days of really going after it and doing some extra conditioning, and things like that, really helps.”
Rather than take his word for it, Golden State should put Conley to the test on Saturday.
In addition to the Grizzlies’ point guard, Steph Curry and Co. need to be sure they know exactly where Tony Allen is whenever the Warriors have the ball on the offensive end. In two games, Allen has racked up a total of seven steals and has done so in relatively easy fashion.
Plays like this just can’t happen. Teams might be able to get away with this kind of pass against the majority of opponents but not when Allen, arguably the game’s best perimeter defender, is headlining the defense for the opposition.
Both Curry and the rest of his teammates need to be aware of Allen’s whereabouts at all times. Even at the age of 33, Allen still has elite closeout speed on both shooters and in passing lanes. The two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team member embodies the Grizzlies grit-n-grind attitude and it’s no secret that Memphis hangs its hat on the defensive end of the floor. Committing 20 total turnovers like the Warriors did on Tuesday against this team isn’t going to get Golden State many wins.
Ultimately, though, Golden State needs to just lock in mentally for all 48 minutes going forward. Everyone who played on Tuesday was guilty of at least one mental lapse, whether it was making a poor pass, taking an ill-advised shot or losing their assignment on defense.
Klay Thompson was probably the most out of sync we’ve seen him in a while, committing five turnovers while shooting 6-15 from the field and 1-6 from beyond the arc.
Regardless of how good of a shooter you are, this is a shot that should never be taken in a playoff game with 15 seconds left on the shot clock:
Had Thompson set himself before launching, then it would have been a different story. But even if he made that one-legged runner, it’s still not a shot that you encourage in those situations.
Thompson knows better and so does this entire Warriors team. The issues that plagued them in Game 2 aren’t ones that will break them for the remainder of this series and beyond. That is, as long as they don’t let them.
Tim MacLean is a Featured Columnist for the Golden State Warriors. Follow him on Twitter.
from Bleacher Report - Front Page http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2457901-how-the-golden-state-warriors-can-reclaim-series-vs-grizzlies