With defining Game 4 approaching, Warriors face plenty of challenges

The Warriors of the NBA postseason haven’t resembled the Warriors of the regular season. They were OK against the Pelicans in Round 1, but their play has declined in Round 2 against the Grizzlies, who now hold a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven heading into Monday’s game.

Earlier today on our NBA Show on 95.7-The Game, John Dickinson and I talked about the abundance of issues facing the Warriors right now as they get ready to play their most defining game of the season.

We also had terrific interviews with Warriors assistant general manager Travis Schlenk, Yahoo! NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski and Jimmy Spencer of the Sporting News and Fox Sports.

Here are some of the issues facing the Golden State Warriors right now:

1. It seems the Grizzlies are mitigating one of the Warriors’ great strengths: Their ability to switch everything on the perimeter. During the regular season, we saw coach Steve Kerr employ a smaller lineup — one with mostly players 6-5 through 6-8 — with terrific success.

With size and length on the perimeter, and everywhere, really, the Warriors could get after teams and be aggressive at that end of the floor. Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green all have the ability to defend multiple positions and the Warriors milked that during the regular season.

But how much does it matter against the Grizzlies? How much can you switch against a team that is a low-post oriented team? There’s really not much to switch when Mike Conley is on the wing, looking to make an entry pass to Zach Randolph.

2. Are the Warriors getting good shots or not. Seems there are two schools of thought here: That the Warriors are getting the same shots as always, they’re just not knocking them down; and that the Grizzlies’ defense is forcing the Warriors into missing shots.

The easy answer is that it’s a little of both, but it seems like a real stretch at this point to think that the Warriors are just “missing shots they normally make.” If we acknowledge the Warriors are going to much 1-on-1 and that Memphis is an elite defensive team, wouldn’t it stand to reason the shots are harder?

3. All season long, Green and Andrew Bogut were able to consistently control the middle of the lane, but they’re having great difficulty in this series. Green and Bogut are both highly skilled players. Both usually have a talent advantage over at least one of the big men on the opposition’s front line.

But against the Grizzlies, Bogut’s skill is being neutralized and Green’s lack of size is being exploited. Make no mistake, the Grizzlies are looking to go at Green every chance they get and it’s because they realize if they can score on him or get him foul trouble some of the Warriors’ foundation begins to crumble.

Bottom line is this is a brutal front-line matchup for the Warriors: Two huge, skilled and cerebral players.

*****There are so many other things going on in this series, including:

The Warriors not getting the long rebounds they seem to usually get that sometimes lead to scramble situations and open 3-pointers. … Harrison Barnes, hands-down, looking like the Warriors’ most poised and self-assured player so far. … With Mo Speights’ injury, is there any room for David Lee to make an impact? … Stephen Curry’s struggles not only shooting the ball in this series but also handling it.

You can listen to the entire NBA Show — in three segments — right here:

Hour 1 with Schlenk: http://bit.ly/1KVAGS5

Hour 2 with Spencer: http://bit.ly/1EqHaUi

Hour 3 with Wojnarowski: http://bit.ly/1FegOuy


About Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz is a veteran San Francisco Bay Area sports journalist. He covered the Golden State Warriors for the Bay Area News Group for more than a decade before becoming a television analyst with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Steinmetz can be heard on "Steiny & Guru" on 95.7-FM The Game in San Francisco, from 12-3.
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