The Warriors’ defense was scrambled and unfocused. Their star guard, Stephen Curry, was wholly unproductive. Their immovable force in the middle, center Andrew Bogut, looked like the guy who’s been battling injury all season.
The result, an ugly 109-91 Game 5 loss to San Antonio.
HARRISON BARNES: “We just let them get comfortable. We started off the game turning the ball over, which turned into fast breaks, giving them easy looks. Before, every shot they took, even if they got 3s, was contested. (Tuesday) night, it was just break down after break down. … We were just off.”
Now, the series shifts back to Oracle Arena, where Golden State hasn’t played well this series. The Warriors need a win to force a Game 7 and keep their postseason run alive.
And they’ll need their defense to be much, much better.
A big part was the struggles of Andrew Bogut. He played just 18 minutes, finishing with six rebounds as the Warriors were outboarded for the first time this series. He tweaked his ankle in the second quarter and sat out most of the first half. He started the third quarter. But he clearly wasn’t the same presence inside.
Guard Tony Parker, the engine of the San Antonio machine, looked like the dominant All-Star he did in Game 1. He finished with 25 points and 10 assists in 34 minutes, knocking down his midrange jumper and getting in the lane.
The Warriors blew countless defensive assignments, leading to open looks for the likes of Kawhi Leonard (17) and Danny Green (16). San Antonio shot 51.9 percent from the field and made 10 of 21 3-pointers.
Can Oracle be the cure?
MARK JACKSON: “We’ll be fine. We’re excited about Game 6. We talked about it being a great series. … My guys will bounce back.”
More on the Game 4 win …
MVP: Harrison Barnes
The rookie played so well, no one’s talking about him getting dunked on by Kawhi Leonard. He was the Warriors’ best player. He took advantage of his mismatches. He stopped Spurs runs. He kept Golden State alive as long as he could. Perhaps most important, he gave San Antonio something to think about heading into Game 6.
MDP: Stephen Curry
He had a rough night offensively, but his biggest failures were on defense. His mistakes weren’t based on him being a poor defender. He lost focus too many times. He left shooters open. He allowed himself to be screened. He closed out lazily. He was way off his game. And missing shots didn’t help.
STEPHEN CURRY: “I was terrible. Plain and simple. They outplayed us as a team. Individually, I didn’t have anything on either end. A step slow. My shot wasn’t falling and I was trying to make plays. But defensively, I lost a little focus. I personally have to be better.”
TELLING STAT: San Antonio had 30 assists on 40 field goals. That’s because the Warriors defense was in unfocused, scramble mode. Part of that was Tony Parker’s penetration. Part of it was the Warriors just terribly blowing assignments. But 30 assists means plenty Spurs were involved. That is not good for the Warriors.
THAT ONE HURT: The Warriors led 15-12 and the Spurs ripped off 15 straight. Down 27-15, the Warriors answered with a Barnes 3-pointer and a turnaround from David Lee. The deficit was down to seven. Golden State had a chance to answer right back and change the tenor of the game.
But a blown defensive assignment left Kawhi Leonard wide open. He nailed it. It was his third straight basket and the first sign the Warriors were in for a long night.
NEED MORE FROM: Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Warriors like to say they don’t worry about offense. To their credit, they did shoot 46.7 percent in Game 5, which isn’t bad. But they can’t win without Curry and Thompson making shots. Not consistently anyway. Not when the Spurs are playing well. It’s not necessarily the points, it’s the what their scoring does to San Antonio’s defense. It stretches it out, which opens up the lane. And it erases leads. It’s different when Curry and Thompson are going. The pressure on the Spurs players are different. The Warriors need them to get going. It’s more than just two points when they score.
COACHES CORNER: Not sure there was much Mark Jackson could do about Game 5. His guys just didn’t have it. Coaching can’t cover blown assignments from your best players. Certainly can’t do anything about his guys being outhustled.
I thought it was very smart to waive that white flag early. He could’ve been stubborn and held onto hope unnecessarily. But he chose rest. He chose to express confidence in his team going home.
BOGUT: “They outplayed us in every facet of the game. We turned the ball over a lot. They won the rebound battle. They shot the ball from over 50 percent form the field. … They went to the free throw line. They had 30 assists on 40 field goals. They were moving the ball well. They out-executed us. We didn’t match that the whole game.”
* Going to Landry and Barnes was good. That was a flow coach actually going with the flow. The Warriors offensive stars were struggling so Jackson turned to high percentage options. Landry was 4 of 7 and went to the free throw line six times. Barnes had 18 shots and four free throws. That could pay dividends. If Curry and Klay bounce back, those guys have confidence to make the Spurs pay for paying too much attention. Or, even better, the Spurs won’t be able to pay too much attention to Curry and Klay because they know Barnes and Landry can produce in isolation.
* It would’ve been nice to see Kent Bazemore get a crack at Parker. I think Bazemore can do to Parker what Cory Joseph does to Curry/Jack. Just come in and provide pressure. Make him rush. Prevent them from getting in their sets. Especially with Curry struggling. Even just a few minutes to slow down the Spurs when they go on one of their runs.
* When Leonard gets Curry and Jack on his back, the Warriors have to double. Ditto when Diaw gets a smaller guy behind the basket. You can’t just leave those guys to fend for themselves, which is what has been happening. Those baskets inside give those role players the rhythm and confidence to hit big shots later. Bring the help. Make them, especially Kawhi, be a playmaker.
* I’ve been saying this all year. Kind of late now. But the inability for Klay and Curry to get themselves easy baskets is both the fault of the player and the coaching staff. Granted, some stuff players have to get on their own. And Curry has gotten much better at getting in the lane instead of settling for the 3. But it seems like, especially for Klay because he’s not that advanced to do that on his own yet, there should be something in the offense to get him easy looks. Don’t be surprised to see an early effort to get Klay going.
WHAT HE SAID: “We were trying to do too much and we were seeing things that were not necessarily there. I put a lot of that on my shoulders. One of the roles I take upon is making sure the guys are ready to play and I did not feel we were like that for the complete 48 minutes. That is something that I son my mind going into Thursday and I have to do a better job of having my guys prepared to come out there and try to get a win.” — Jarrett Jack
FOR NEXT GAME: The Warriors managed just 8 fast-break points and 40 points in the paint. They took just 16 3-pointers. Why? Transition. They walk it up. Part of it is the Spurs are hustling back. Part of it is they are pressuring on the inbounds preventing the Warriors from moving freely. Part of it, though, is the Warriors (I think scared of turning it over) walking the ball up the court. Many of their good looks from 3 come in transition, which is probably why Klay Thompson didn’t take any. The Warriors have to push the ball. Early, Curry threw a couple over the top of the defense for Barnes. Both times it worked. Again, you’ve got to make the Spurs move on defense. You let them set up in half court, it not only becomes harder to score, it becomes harder to stop their runs.
SERIOUSLY?!: Andrew Bogut says he’s OK. Says his ankle is fine. Perhaps that is commendable. But if his ankle is fine, then why did he refuse to attempt to block any shot at the rim? For the first time in these playoffs, in 11 games, Bogut failed to get a block. There were multiple times he didn’t rotate over, and he clearly didn’t have the burst to go hunt down a block. There were a few times when a smaller teammate of his was getting posted up, and instead of providing support, he left the key to go defend his man. That’s not the same mean guy who’d been protecting the rim with abandon.