Warriors need signature Draymond Game to cure ailments originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Now that the Grizzlies made adjustments to improve their defense and rebounding, allowing them to control Game 4 for all but the final minutes and dominate Game 5, it’s the Warriors’ turn to counter with adjustments of their own.
If Draymond Green is first in line, that might be enough.
A “Draymond Game” Friday night in Game 6 at Chase Center might be enough to cure what ails the Warriors and sends them into the Western Conference Finals.
A ‘Draymond Game’ is one in which he combines intensity and efficiency, firing up his teammates and the home crowd, disrupting the opposing offense and willing the Warriors to victory. He hits a couple 3-balls, grabs maybe a dozen rebounds, records maybe eight assists, gets a couple steals and a couple blocks.
It’s a game after which it is clear he was the most impactful player on the floor.
We have yet to see such a game this postseason. Good games, yes. Great moments, absolutely. Big plays, of course. But not a signature game, where he sprinkles parts of himself over the entire proceeding, with numbers that are relevant but not a determining factor.
Game 4, in which the Warriors came back to win in the final seconds, belonged mostly to Stephen Curry. He scored 18 points in nine fourth-quarter minutes, including 8-of-8 shooting from the line to put away the Grizzlies.
Call it, if you will, the “Steph Game,” for without him it’s a loss.
Game 3, in which the Warriors posted a 142-112 route, was a collective effort highlighted mostly by Jordan Poole, Klay Thompson, Otto Porter Jr., Curry and Green.
Game 1, Golden State’s other victory, belonged mostly to Poole’s 31 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and – surprise – two blocks.
There’s always the possibility of “Game 6 Klay,” but the most visible opening practically has Draymond’s name on it.
Since Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins, tired of watching his premier rebounding squad lose that battle to the smaller Warriors, inserted 6-foot-11, 265-pound Steven Adams in Game 4, the paint has become a maze.
He clogs the middle, allowing 6-foot-11, 240-pound Jaren Jackson Jr. freedom to roam the immediate area, eating up space while erasing shots on the strong side as well as the weak side.
Since the Grizzlies turned to their jumbo lineup, much of Draymond’s game has been neutralized. He has 10 assists but seven turnovers.
“We’re not getting to the rim as cleanly as we have in the past with Steven Adams down there, and then they’re long too,” acting head coach Mike Brown said Wednesday night after the Warriors were trampled, 134-95 in Game 5. “Not only are we having problems at finishing times, but if we go too deep with our penetration, their length and their activity, they’re getting a lot of deflections.”
That’s much easier while playing 5-on-4. The Grizzlies are not guarding Draymond, who thus far has been unwilling to take the shots that would make them pay for their neglect of him. They obviously recognize this, so they’re sitting back like a SWAT team, practically daring him to pass his way through them.
They got the desired result in Game 5, as Draymond took only four shots while committing five turnovers.
“We’ve got to go away from pressure,” Green conceded. “We’re going into pressure. I think, really, all series we have been sped up. Got to slow down.”
Slowing down is part of the prescription. But only works if there is a certain forcefulness. The Warriors slumbered through Game 5, and many of Draymond’s passes got lost in the lethargy. In the second quarter, where the game was lost – the Grizzlies won it 39-22 – he had four turnovers in eight minutes.
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Golden State’s second-quarter offense perished under 10 turnovers, off which Memphis scored 18 points.
Which puts the Warriors in the position where another loss – which is more plausible if Otto Porter Jr. is unavailable due to foot soreness – sends them back to Tennessee for Game 7.
“We’ve shown we’re a resilient team this year,” Curry said. “And we haven’t had a situation where we’re basically for 46 minutes of the game just getting demolished. But we have the right mindset, the right approach, and all the tools we need to show who we really are in Game 6.”
There are several adjustments to consider on offense and defense. Most of them likely involve Draymond, who can’t operate from the top while his receivers get open. He has to find a balance between passing and shooting, and also bring the defensive edge that makes him special.
I did it a few times in the regular season. If the team’s high-IQ emotional leader has it within himself to do it in Game 6, the Game 5 blowout loss quickly becomes a distant memory.
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