Just when you thought they were out, they pulled you back in. But, in the end it was too much Blake Griffin, it was three clutch buckets by Chris Paul and it was a first half of missed opportunities that cost the Warriors in their 98-96 loss in Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series.
The Dubs knew they would be at a size dis-advantage without Andrew Bogut, but Blake Griffin (32 points) and DeAndre Jordan (14 points, 21 rebounds) are making mince-meat of the Warriors in the paint. The Warriors just don’t have the size to battle for 48 minutes down low with those two behemoths.
Down 18 in the second half the Warriors scratched, clawed and battled their way back and had a chance to win it on their final possession but Steph Curry’s step-back three fell way short.
Curry thought he was fouled on his final shot, saying he was “100 percent” fouled on his attempt. Warriors coach Mark Jackson when asked whether his sharp-shooter was fouled, took the diplomatic approach. “You gotta give him room to land, he didn’t have room to land.”
If Warrior fans want to be honest with themselves they will admit that the first half turnovers and the woeful 6-for-31 shooting from three-point range was what really hurt. The Dubs at one point were 2-for-23 from long distance before hitting 4 of their final 8 treys. The Warriors still refuse to double-team Blake Griffin, aside from some isolated instances. Griffin is making the Warriors pay the price. He rattled off 10 straight points during a two-minute stretch in the second half as the Clips built their 18-point lead. At some point, you have to believe Mark Jackson will switch his defensive philosophy. My gut tells me he fears the double coming J.J. Redick’s defender, will leave the former Dukie open to torch the Dubs. He also probably has visions of Jamal Crawford going off from three-point range and that may be convincing him to stay with the single defender. The problem is that Griffin is beating the Warriors now with the single-team and Jackson has shown a stubbornness when it comes to this type of adjustment for much of the season. It will be interesting to see what he counters with in Sunday’s Game 4. If he counters at all.
The Warriors turnovers have been a problem all season long and in the playoffs it has been no exception. It’s not really in the turnovers themselves, it’s the KINDS of turnovers. They are in transition or they are on spots on the floor that lead to easy buckets going the other way. It held this team back all year, and it is holding them back in this series.
To borrow a line, “Andrew Bogut is not walking through that door, Festus Ezeli is not walking through that door. Hell, even Joe Barry Carroll is not walking through that door.” The Warriors need to figure out a few things or else this series could end next Tuesday at the Staples Center. First, how do they get Curry more involved ? Doc Rivers has done an amazing job of making Curry a facilitator and not a scorer. I have not seen Curry defended this well in a three game stretch all season. Rivers’ game-plan has been superb. Second, slow down Griffin, somehow and someway the Warriors need to figure out a way to slow the guy down. They need to double, bring different guys, play straight up, then back to double, get him thinking a bit. If Crawford and Redick start drilling three’s then you tip your hat and you wish Clips luck in the next series. And third, quit turning the ball over. I know I urge this, but it isn’t going to happen . The Warriors have been careless with the ball all year and it’s not going to change in Game 4 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. But, I can hope can’t I ?
A few made threes and that wild crowd can get the Dubs right back in the series. Needless to say Game 4 is vital to the Warriors chances.