Your turn, Alvin Gentry and Steve Kerr.
The NBA playoffs are a series of moves and countermoves, and the Warriors have played the high-stakes chess match as well, if not better, than any team thus far.
But after the undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers controlled the tempo in the first two games of the NBA Finals, it was time for Kerr and his staff to head back to the video room on Monday.
“We’ve got to do a better job,” Kerr said. “We’ll watch the tape and figure it out.”
Earlier this postseason, defensive coordinator Ron Adams was called upon to make the right moves. Gentry and his offense are on the spot this time. The adjustments will start with Stephen Curry, although they won’t end there.
In Game 2, a 95-93 overtime loss, Curry was limited to 19 points on a horrible 5 of 23 from the field, the third-worst performance by a reigning Most Valuable Player in NBA Finals history. His 13 missed 3-pointers in 15 attempts also were a record. He has converted only 4 of 21 tries from beyond the 3-point arc in the series.
“I’ll look at the film and try to figure out exactly what adjustments they made, specifically on ball screens, and I’ll be ready for Game 3,” said Curry, who appeared to be fatigued at times.
Said Kerr, “We’ve got to put our guys in a better position to get good looks. I thought sometimes you get open shots that aren’t rhythm shots, so you’re not flowing, you’re not playing well, and you haven’t created anything offensively. Then all of a sudden, you do get an open look, but you’re not in the flow, in the groove. And I thought there was some of that [in the loss].”
Cavaliers assistant Tyronn Lue has sent a posse of defenders at Curry in an attempt to take the ball out of his hands and disrupt his rhythm. Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson have taken turns against him. In one sequence, no fewer than four players chased him into a corner.
The New Orleans Pelicans crowded the perimeter with some success in the first round. But when Curry began to drive the ball to the basket, he was able get off high-percentage shots consistently. In Game 2, he burned the Cavaliers on an uncontested layup that tied the score in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
“I was able to get to the paint a little bit more in the second half,” Curry said. “I didn’t finish many of them, but I was able to get in there and either make a play or try to, especially that last shot down the stretch in regulation.”
Yet Curry hasn’t been the only one out of sync lately.
As a whole, the offense has been guilty of too many shots early in the 24-second clock. The result has been fewer passes and less ball movement. The Warriors had a season-low 16 assists in the second game.
“They’re a long, athletic team,” said Klay Thompson, who stepped up with 34 points in the loss. “They are playing good defense, but I think a lot of it is on us. We’re not playing like ourselves. We’re not moving the ball like we should. We only had 16 assists. That’s not us, man. We usually get 20, 25 when we’re playing great.
“So we’ve got to move the ball better and trust each other. They are playing well on the defensive end, but it’s more on us. We’ve got to play with a better rhythm.”