Warriors show they can win out of their comfort zone

Jay Asser 20:26 07/05/2017
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Deadly as ever: Kevin Durant. Picture: Getty Images.

At their best, the Golden State Warriors are a free-flowing, ball-skipping machine that dissects defences in search of the most optimal shot.

That style, however, doesn’t always suit the playoffs, but in their 102-91 win over the Utah Jazz in Game 3 of the second round series, the Warriors proved they can adapt and play out of their comfort zone.

If the Jazz were going to steal a victory in the lopsided series, Game 3 was the time to do it. Golden State’s Splash Brothers duo of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 7-of-29 from the field, while Draymond Green’s outside shot crashed back down to Earth as he went 0-of-3 from long range.

The pace of 94.54 possessions and just seven fast break points for the Warriors also didn’t work in the visitors’ favour, but Durant and Curry combined for a fourth-quarter outburst that resulted in yet another double-digit win.

Durant and Curry each tallied 11 points in the period, but it wasn’t necessarily off crisp ball movement and in the flow of the offence. Instead, with Utah’s defence clogging the lane, Golden State leaned on Durant in isolation and off ball-screens near the top of the key.

It was a call-back to Durant’s days in Oklahoma City as the former MVP reminded just how much of a mismatch he is for any defender. While that style has been the antithesis of the Warriors’ unselfish approach, it provides Golden State another weapon in their deep arsenal, a ‘break in case of emergency’ option that will be more and more handy the deeper in the playoffs they advance.

“Really, for us, it’s simplistic, basic, backyard basketball,” Warriors coach Mike Brown said. “You find where you think you have an advantage, and we felt we had that in a pick-and-roll situation, moving Gobert away from the hoop.”

Golden State’s ability to shift the offensive strategy wouldn’t be possible if not for Curry’s willingness to slide into more of a sidekick role, which he did in the fourth quarter as Durant accumulated a usage percentage of 43.5, compared to Curry’s 31.8.

“Myself and the other 19,000 people in the arena and everybody watching on TV saw the same thing I saw,” Curry said. “It’s an easy decision to at that moment (to defer to Durant). Try to set a screen for him and get him to the right spot and, obviously, he does the rest.

“We’re smart enough basketball players to know what’s going on at that moment and try to make the right decision and let a talented scorer like he is…let him do what he does.”

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