Warriors

Warriors must make obvious Game 2 adjustment to even NBA Finals vs. Raptors

Warriors must make obvious Game 2 adjustment to even NBA Finals vs. Raptors

TORONTO – Can’t recall a time when the Warriors, in the wake of a defeat, talked so much about the need to study video as they did after losing Game 1 of the NBA Finals to the Raptors on Thursday. Every conversation, player or coach, referenced film evaluation.

Which suggests they were, on some levels, taken by surprise with the speed and balance of Toronto’s offense. The Warriors had what seemed a rational plan – devote themselves to containing ultra-dangerous Kawhi Leonard – but the Raptors blew it up.

“Kawhi did a good job of kind of baiting them out a little bit and getting passes off, and then letting us play 4-on-3 and kind of just going out there,” Toronto guard Kyle Lowry said Saturday.

Don’t be surprised if the Warriors blow up that plan in Game 2. They certainly should, even though their switching and blitzing limited Leonard to 5-of-14 shooting from the field.

“We did a decent job overall on Kawhi,” coach Steve Kerr said. “He didn't have his best game.”

Leonard, however, had a highly effective game. He played 43 minutes, and nobody was better than his plus-11. His smart passing (five assists, a game-high five secondary assists) and the shooting accuracy of his teammates (the other starters combined for 57.8 percent from the field) burned the Warriors.

The Warriors surely caught that on video, even if they can’t say so.

“You can't argue with what you see on there, and we learned a lot,” Stephen Curry said.

“The few times we trapped him, he was able to make the right passes out of the traps,” said Andre Iguodala, often the primary defender on Leonard. “He found (Marc) Gasol a few times and they're doing certain things to try to counter that. So, we have a few schemes here and there, turn it on, turn it off. For us it's just our back-line defense, being able to rotate, especially when you know you have a special player who can draw two.”

While the Warriors were committing to Leonard, Gasol scored 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting. Pascal Siakam scored 32 points on 14-of-17 shooting, though some of it was through porous transition defense. Fred VanVleet came off the bench to score 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting.

It was as if the Warriors patched one hole only to see other leaks elsewhere.

Again, it makes sense to prioritize Leonard. But given his intellect and the shooting ability of the other Raptors, six of whom drilled at least one 3-pointer, it makes more sense to dial it back.

That’s not to say assign one defender or to utilize the same look. The Warriors don’t do that, and as long as Kerr is the coach they never will.

“With great players like Kawhi or LeBron (James) or Kevin Durant or whoever, it's the old cliché: You can't just do the same thing over and over again,” Kerr said. “But in this case the cliché is true. You can't give a guy the same look every time. So, you just try to mix it up and keep them off balance the best you can.”

Leonard can expect to see lots of Iguodala, and maybe even more of Klay Thompson. But the notion of frequently sending a second defender backfired enough that the Warriors won’t do it as often.

“We always try to say make the game as hard as possible for everybody on the court,” Iguodala said. “You're not going to stop him, but you just try to make (the opponent) expend as much energy as possible while he's on the court.”

The Warriors truly understand that the difference between the Raptors and any other team is they always can spread the floor with five shooters. Coach Nick Nurse went nine-deep through his roster in Game 1, and all nine players launched from deep.

[RELATED: Boogie puts everything on line for shot at NBA championship]

This makes it very risky for a defense to send a second defender. Moreover, it’s extremely deflating to send a second defender and force the pass, only to see another shooter drain a triple.

“It's great to have the videotape,” Kerr said. “That's where you can really learn. We had a good film session yesterday. We'll have another one today.”

The Sunday viewing will be, like that on Saturday, equal parts of horror show and enlightenment. Adjustments are coming for Game 2, and this should be one of them.

Mychal Thompson says Klay has no limp, soreness as ACL rehab continues

Mychal Thompson says Klay has no limp, soreness as ACL rehab continues

As you've been practicing social distancing the last several weeks, have you wondered how Klay Thompson is doing?

Whether you're answer is yes or no, you're about to get an update on the Warriors' All-Star shooting guard.

"He's feeling good. He's working out on his own. He's doing all of his drills. He says he feels good," Klay's father, Mychal, said Monday during a radio appearance on 95.7 The Game. "He walks around without any kind of limp -- no kind of soreness.

"He says he's feeling great and he'll be ready to go at full speed next year."

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That should bring a smile to your face.

At this point in time, unfortunately, nobody knows when "next year" will begin.

[RELATED: Klay said two things right after ACL surgery, mom reveals]

Klay tore his left ACL on June 13 and underwent surgery July 2.

"He’s going to be so ready to play next year and so excited and the rehab is coming along really well," coach Steve Kerr told Tim Kawakami of The Athletic a couple weeks ago. "So I have no doubt that -- assuming everything starts in September and October like it usually does -- that Klay and Steph will be in great shape and ready to roll.

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Warriors season review: Jordan Poole's improvement should be encouraging

Warriors season review: Jordan Poole's improvement should be encouraging

Editor's note: Amid the current climate, it's looking increasingly likely we'll be away from basketball for the foreseeable future. In the meantime, NBC Sports Bay Area will take a look at each player on the Warriors' roster and examine how their performance will fit with the roster long term. First up is rookie guard Jordan Poole.
 
In need of scoring, the Warriors used the No. 28 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft to select Jordan Poole, who was expected to make an impact right away. Those hopes didn't come to fruition early on, as Poole struggled from the field.
 
Here's everything you need to know about the Michigan product's rookie season with Golden State.

Contract

2 years / $4,028,040 (with options for the 2021-22, 2022-23 seasons). 

Last season

Poole's rookie campaign started slow. Through his first 19 games, he shot just 27 percent from the field. Poole's struggles came as he was put into the starting lineup following Steph Curry's hand injury. During his initial stint as a starter, Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted that the rookie was losing confidence. 
 
As a result, Poole was banished to the G League, averaging 26 points on 46 percent from the field. Nonetheless, any question about his struggles would elicit the same response.
 
Poole's defiance paid off following the All-Star break as the rookie routinely put together double-digit scoring outputs. Over his last nine games, he averaged 14.1 points, including a 17-point performance against the Los Angeles Clippers in what might be the season finale.

In all, he showed signs of progress following a disappointing start to his rookie season, which should bode well whenever the Warriors return to the floor. 

Outlook

In order to build on his late-season performance, Poole will have to improve his defense and strength. Moreover, he has to continue to change his mindset. 

[RELATED: How new rules affect Dubs' ability to evaluate prospects]
 
Just before his G League stint, Kerr encouraged his rookie to watch film of Clippers guard Landry Shamat and Pelicans shooting guard J.J. Redick. The sentiment behind the message was to encourage Poole to snap out of his habit of standing around in Golden State's motion offense. During the onset of the season, Poole's stagnant off-ball mindset frustrated the coaching staff. 
 
Upon return, Poole took heed to Kerr's message, often leading the offensive attack as injuries mounted again. If he can continue his current trajectory, he has a chance to be a contributor next season.