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LOS ANGELES — Should the Warriors make adjustments? Or should they just execute their game plan better?
It’s an interesting thought that most NBA playoff teams wrestle with between games. After all, coaches often argue outcomes usually have to do more with effort than schemes.
So when the Warriors play the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 6 of their first-round series on Friday, will simply playing harder be enough? After all, the Warriors do have Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on their team. Or do the Warriors still need to respond tactically to any changes the Clippers make?
Plenty of Warriors fans had similar questions in the latest mailbag. Before I get to those, here are a few stories that should cover a few bases. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said that “everything is on the table.” The Warriors share why they have played against the Clippers better on the road than at home. And Bay Area News Group’s Dieter Kurtenbach has an interesting take on the Warriors’ identity. Lastly, Kurtenbach and I on on the Warriors HQ podcast and discuss whether the Warriors should feel worried that their prolonged first-round series against the Clippers might have ramifications in a presumed Western Conference semifinals matchup with the Houston Rockets.
For future Warriors mailbags, you can send questions to me on Twitter or through our free email newsletter, Warriors HQ.
When the game is close, what’s wrong w/running a simple Steph/KD or Steph/Klay PnR? We have 3 great shooters, but Kerr would rather move the ball around so Iggy, McKinnie or Draymond can brick a 3? The Clippers are running Williams/Harrell PnR all day long until we can guard it.
— Kim Chau (@KimChau28) April 25, 2019
Kerr will do that from time to time, particularly in games with higher stakes. But he believes that ball movement will lead to the best shot and that it is less predictable than just running pick-and-rolls. That can occasionally cause points of contention since Curry, Durant and Klay are their best shooters. But Kerr feels that relying on that too much would eventually decrease their efficiency, while keeping the rest of the team disengaged.
why does Kerr not put Looney in the starting lineup?
— Anna Su (@riceysu) April 25, 2019
Kerr has certainly started Looney before, and feels comfortable doing it again. Since DeMarcus Cousins suffered what appears to be a playoff-ending injury, Kerr has leaned toward Andrew Bogut because of his stronger familiarity with defensive concepts as well as on-court chemistry with Draymond Green. Kerr also likes how Looney fits in with the second unit. That being said, Kerr might change that thought process since the Clippers have gone small in the past two games.
What do you think about proposing Warriors team staying at hotel during home post-season games? They seem to just clowning around at oracle unfocused, no intensity whatsoever
— Alex Tsui (@alextsui68) April 25, 2019
I doubt putting the team up in a hotel is the issue. These players are grown adults and want to be able to spend time with their families and close ones when they are at home, something that is not possible during the team’s 41 road games and subsequent playoff games.
Do you think the clippers taking two games (possibly more) is going to help with their focus going into a Rockets series if they advance (no guarantees)? My thinking is that this type of series will get them in that playoffs mindset more than a sweep would have
— TL (@Tanno24) April 26, 2019
That’s an interesting question. When I covered the Lakers, the 2010 championship team credited the eighth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder for doing the same thing to them in six games. The Lakers then swept the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals, beat the Phoenix Suns in six games in the Western Conference Finals and then beat the Boston Celtics in seven in the NBA Finals. At the same time, the Warriors need as much rest as they can against a Rockets team that will enter the series feeling more refreshed. The Warriors should have a playoff mindset already because it is the playoffs.
Why does Kerr never get Steph involved? He does it for KD and Klay, but he seems content to relegate Steph to corner shooter or screen setter. Terrible for an MVP
— GSW ❤️🏀 (@saucycurry2018) April 25, 2019
To say that Steph never gets involved is a stretch. He takes a nearly equal amount of shots both off of pull-ups and in catch-and-shoot situations. Still, NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh did a good amount of number crunching to argue that Curry should shoot even more. You can certainly make the case for that, and Kerr and Curry admit that. That might result in Curry having more productive nights. But both parties have said that could come at the expense of team play and diminish their depth threat. Therefore, the Warriors would be less likely to absorb an off night from Curry if they are so dependent on him .
Rockets already past the 1st round, are the D worried about again Hou and what’s the plan!
— johnson7days (@johnson7days) April 25, 2019
Kerr downplayed that part when I asked him about it yesterday. I get it. No need to give the Clippers bulletin board material. Kerr also wants his players more focused on just closing the series out already. But given the Warriors’ comments before Game 5, it is pretty clear they knew the importance in not giving the Rockets any extra advantage.
There seems to be a lot of tension between Kerr and the players especially Draymond. The music volume incident being the latest example. Do you think Kerr has lost or is losing the locker room? Is this repairable?
— TL (@Tanno24) April 26, 2019
Without being in the locker room, it’s hard for me to say one way or the other. I didn’t see the music incident as a sign of dysfunction. But it definitely highlighted the annoyance Kerr and Green might have with each other over small things over a long season. That being said, Kerr is very aware that his voice has not been as heard in the past two seasons as it has been during the beginning of the Warriors’ championship runs. That is inevitable. And that is why Kerr often picks his spots. That being said, I still sense the Warriors respect Kerr’s position overall as their head coach.
Does Draymond hate Kerr most or does KD hate Kerr even more than Draymond?
— Lattè Snowman (@iamvcube) April 25, 2019
Hate is a strong word. Draymond and Kerr have had plenty of more heated disagreements than KD and Kerr have. But that being said, those incidents have strengthened the partnership between Draymond and Kerr. Durant has credited Kerr’s collaboration with him. But there’s no question that Durant often publicly disagrees with things Kerr says pertaining to the team’s ball movement, effort or his offensive role. KD has been so productive, regardless. So it’s hard to gauge whether KD is just pointing out small things, or if it represents something bigger.
So when will the truth about this run come out? When kd leaves? when steph retires? in 30 years? Never?
— oshunj (@oshunj) April 25, 2019
It’s all relative. More things about every season comes out after the fact when there is more big picture perspective and all parties involved being more forthcoming with their version of events. But to say the entire truth comes out? I doubt it will be ever. Professional teams keep a lot of things in house. But if/when there is a 30 for 30 documentary on the Warriors’ dynasty, I’m sure a lot of interesting things both good and bad we’ll learn about that we did not already know.
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