Back to Back… in a Bad Way

Let’s go through a hypothetical scenario real quick; it’s April 16, 2016. I’m relaxing on my couch, watching some highlights from the Warriors’ record 73 win season in anticipation of the playoffs quickly approaching.

Let’s go through a hypothetical scenario real quick; it’s April 16, 2016. I’m relaxing on my couch, watching some highlights from the Warriors’ record 73 win season in anticipation of the playoffs quickly approaching.

I’m wearing my red Draymond Green All-Star jersey and drinking Gatorade out of my Warriors goblet. There’s a knock on my door and I open it to find you standing there. You say to me, “The Warriors will be down 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals this year.” Then you turn and walk away without another word. I’ll stand there dumbfounded for only half a second before slamming the door and doubling over in laughter.

Who the heck was that and why did they just say something insane to me? One of the best teams in NBA history being down 3-1 in the WCF? You've got to be joking!

I wish they were, past Marty. I really wish they were. The Warriors just lost Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals by 24 points and the Oklahoma City Thunder have now taken a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. For the people who only watched Game 4, you might say, “Wow, what a bad game. I hope that’s the only bad game the Dubs have in this series.” Well guess what people? This is the SECOND bad game the Warriors have played in this series.

Actually, it’s the second bad game IN A ROW. I’ve seen teams, including the Warriors, get blown out and then win their next game a handful of times in the regular season. This is the NBA, where any team has the ability to win a game. But to have your you-know-whats handed to you in back to back games and to have those games be in the playoffs? That would suck the soul out of me if I was a player…I’m lucky I’m just a fan.

To put these two losses in perspective (Game 3 by 28 points and Game 4 by 24 points), let’s take a look at the stats. In Game 3, the Warriors had 13 turnovers on 41% shooting with Steph, Green, and Thompson posting their worst +/- of the entire season: -39, -46, and -43. Our defense was atrocious, as we gave up a whopping 131 points on 50% shooting. Durant and Westbrook scored 33 and 30, respectively, and we even allowed Cameron Payne to step foot on the court, something he has rarely done in these playoffs (6.9 mpg).

Game 4 was not much better. The Warriors had even more turnovers (21) and shot 41% again. Green posted another bad +/- (-30), with he and Curry flinging the ball everywhere but in the direction of a Warrior player (they each had 6 TOs). Our interior defense was even worse than the first game, as we allowed Andre Roberson to fly down the lane time and time again (17 pts, 12 reb). Oh yeah, and Russell Westbrook had a triple-double, did I mention that? His 36-11-11 made Stephen Curry look like an actual baby, with no “assassin” nickname in sight.

So what does this mean for the Warriors going into Game 5? They’ll be back at Oracle, which is a huge sigh of relief, but it doesn't mean we’re going to automatically win. If the Warriors can fix their passing mistakes and protect the paint better, they’ll stand a fighting chance against the streaking Thunder on Thursday. My X Factor for the game and for the rest of these playoffs is Draymond Green. He has seemed incredibly rushed and out of sorts these past two games. If he calms down and sees the floor better, it will help our offense get back on track. When Green plays badly, our offense stalls, turns into isolation, and the game runs away from us.

Curry hasn't been his usual self either, shooting 35% from the field and 24% from beyond the arc in Games 3 and 4 combined. It hasn't helped that the Thunder have played him incredibly tight on defense, something the Rockets and Trail Blazers simply could not figure out earlier in these playoffs. Curry is the MVP of the league while Green is the heartbeat of the Warriors team.

If those two can play like they have all season, Dub Nation will be able to cheer the Warriors on to victory in Game 5 and to a trip back to OKC for Game 6.

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