PORTLAND – After scouring the video of their Game 3 loss to the Trail Blazers, the Warriors came away unimpressed not with only with their effort but also with how casually they dismissed their offensive principles.
They looked, quite frankly, more like the Kobe Bryant Lakers of a couple years ago, with Klay Thompson in the role of Kobe.
This is not, for the Warriors, a good look. And it’s something they’ve set a goal of fixing before Monday night, when Game 4 is tipped off at Moda Center.
“There were some glaring issues that we had, basically related to energy and effort,” center Andrew Bogut said after practice Sunday. “We can fix that pretty easily. And then, make a couple adjustments offensively. We’ve got to move the ball more; that’s something that coach harped on.”
Poor ball movement is among the pet peeves of coach Steve Kerr. With the exception of silly turnovers, lack of ball movement may be the most annoying characteristic the Warriors can exhibit. And it was on full display in Game 3.
Thompson got hot in the first quarter and basically decided to shoot every chance he could. It seemed to make sense. He scored 18 points in the quarter on 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-5 from beyond the arc. But his teammates had only limited involvement and, frankly, never seemed to find any rhythm over the final three quarters.
Thompson, who managed one assist over is 38 minutes, acknowledged that ball movement is one of the keys to the team’s success, regardless of whether Stephen Curry plays.
“It’s huge,” Thompson said. “We watched the film and we didn’t look like ourselves.
“But it’s a long playoff run. There’s going to be lapses. We’ve got to learn from it.”
That’s where the Warriors are as they go to work for Game 4. With a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, and a six-point lead in the first quarter of Game 3, they were struck by a touch of complacency. It showed, giving Portland an opening.
“We had an opportunity early in the game to take advantage and we didn’t do that,” point guard Shaun Livingston said. “We gave them some life. I expect us to come out hungrier on Monday.
“We didn’t play with that sense of desperation,” he added. “It’s the playoffs, and we’ve got to have more fight – all of us. We had certain good individual performances, but we didn’t bring it as a team.”
Those “good” individual performances were, for the most part, restricted to Draymond Green’s offense and Klay Thompson’s shooting.
The Warriors were caught a step slow or completely flat-footed when the Blazers seemed constantly in motion. The Warriors did not score a single fast-break basket.
“We got outplayed, outhustled,” Kerr said. “We didn’t trust each other enough moving the ball and we didn’t deserve to win.”
Will it change in Game 4? The Warriors insist it will, beginning with offensive movement designed make Blazers guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum expend an inordinate amount of energy on defense.
The Blazers basically played seven players, as starting forward Maurice Harkless was limited to less than seven minutes due to soreness in his right hip. He is listed as probable for Game 4.
Lillard and McCollum each played 42 minutes – more than anybody else on either team – yet, showing no sign of fatigue, combined to shoot 8-of-11 in the fourth quarter.
“We really didn’t make them work that much” Thompson said. “For a team that plays a lot of guys 40 minutes, we’ve got to make them work and use the whole floor on defense because that’s going to take away some of their energy on offense. That’s what Steve was pointing out.”