If the Golden State Warriors have an exploitable weakness, it certainly hasn’t been discovered yet. The Warriors are 37-8 and have been rolling along since Day 1 this season. Their offense is considered among the most beautiful in the NBA, and their defense, as many of their supporters constantly point out, is also elite.
So the questions are: Are there any red flags to be seen? Any possible obstacles to overcome once the postseason rolls around? What’s something to look for that could possibly bite this team in the playoffs?
Admittedly, there’s not a lot to pick on here. But if there’s one thing I’m anxious to see about come playoff time it’s the Warriors’ offense down the stretch of close games. As any Warrior fan knows this year, their team hasn’t been involved in a lot of tight ones. Golden State has had just three games this year decided by four points or less.
If there’s one concern I’d have as a fan in the playoffs, it’s how will the Warriors’ offense look in the last three to five minutes of a game? The reason I ask this is because the Warriors don’t really have a pecking order on offense or a place they’re comfortable going when things get dicey.
The Warriors’ passing game or motion offense or open offense or whatever you want to call it thrives on ball movement and player movement. While the Warriors certainly have “plays,” they also don’t have a big guy to simply dump it into the low post. What can sometimes happen when you run this kind of offense is that the ball will not end up in the hands of the player you want it to be in when the game is on the line.
We saw this when the Warriors lost to the Chicago Bulls — a game in which the offensively limited Andre Iguodala had the ball at two critical junctures. When you’re sitting with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and even a scorer like David Lee, I’m not sure that’s what the Warriors want down the stretch.
The obvious answer is get the ball to Curry and let him make a play. But Curry plays point guard, and because of that, defenses can often get the ball out of his hands by double-teaming or blitzing him hard out front. That means someone else may have to make a play.
That someone else may likely have to be Thompson, perhaps the team’s best post-up player. While Thompson has improved his game in a variety of ways, I’d rather see him post up (like he did last year against Indiana for a game-winner). In other words, as great as the Warriors’ offense is, it’s possible they may have to go away from certain aspects of it down the stretch. Yes, they may have to go to more isolation, which former coach Mark Jackson got criticized for.
Is this reaching? Perhaps. But it’s true that games slow up in the postseason, particularly the deeper you get into the playoffs. And when the game does slow up, it might just be a little tougher for Golden State to find the guy they want to make the play.