The Golden State Warriors find themselves with their backs against the wall, down 3-2 to the San Antonio Spurs. After being drubbed 109-91 in Game 5 Tuesday night, adjustments must be made if they hope to bring the competitiveness back to a previously tight series.
With elimination looming and their season on the line, here are the five things that must happen if they hope to extend the series one last game.
What happened to the Andrew Bogut from Round 1? The imposing menace who wasn’t afraid to mix it up with Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee has not shown the same intensity that he did earlier in the playoffs.
Sure, the rebounding has been solid thus far—12.8 per game against San Antonio—as has been his defense on Tim Duncan. But that threatening scowl that had become a fixture during the Nuggets series has been missing throughout this one.
Bogut must be more aggressive if the Warriors are to win. He took Faried and McGee out of their comfort zones by endlessly mixing it up. If he does the same with Tiago Splitter and Duncan, it might be just the thing to get the Spurs out of rhythm.
Not very often this season have we seen a team so handily outshoot the Warriors as the Spurs did in Game 5. For as much credit as the Spurs get for making those shots, however, over half of the shots made can be attributed to bad defense.
Whether it be not fighting hard enough through screens, giving too much space or being late at running the shooters off the line, the Warriors simply had too many defensive breakdowns to have a chance to win this game.
San Antonio shot 10-of-21 from three last game. Those are Golden State numbers. If the Warriors hope to tie this series at three apiece, they must redouble their efforts on the defensive side of the ball.
If there is one thing that must absolutely not change, it’s the aggression being shown by Harrison Barnes. He has been an absolute revelation this series, a wonderful precursor for the future of this franchise.
During the course of this series, Barnes has doubled not just his regular-season points per game, but his rebounds per game as well, 9.2 and 4.1 to 16.7 and 6.6, respectively. All the talk from the Bay has been about the now-infamous Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
It is Barnes, however, who has stepped up to the pressure. The Warriors would be smart to continue to put the ball in his hands and allow him to look for his shot off the dribble. Especially if the backcourt continues to falter.
It’s no secret that Tony Parker does the vast majority of his damage in the paint. Everyone knows it, yet he still finds a way to make his way down the lane with ease. Thompson must be the roadblock to the bucket express that is Parker.
Thompson has taken the challenge of guarding Parker for much of the series with mixed results. Obviously, Parker is a future Hall of Famer; nobody can shut him down completely. But when he moves his feet and forces contested jumpers, Thompson allows himself a chance.
While Parker has scorched Thompson and the Warriors on more than one occasion this series, he has been off at times as well. That can be attributed to the defense of Thompson. If that defense isn’t at its finest Thursday night, the Warriors won’t have much of a chance.
This one’s obvious. The Warriors can defend all they want, but if their shooting comes up cold again, there will be no Game 7 in San Antonio (not this series, anyway).
Curry and Thompson are two of the streakiest shooters in the entire league. Those two zoning in on the basket has spelled doom for a number of teams. For the Warriors to win this game, at least one must find the range from downtown.
If not, there will only be one team heading back to San Antonio.