Kurtenbach: Strength in numbers? Poole, Green and Kerr let down Steph Curry in Warriors’ Game 1 loss

Kurtenbach: Strength in numbers? Poole, Green and Kerr let down Steph Curry in Warriors’ Game 1 loss

SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors were cooking. They had the Boston Celtics — whose young core of players are getting their first taste of the NBA Finals — on the ropes. They had a chance to land a knockout blow.

It’s the kind of opportunity that the Warriors had created and taken countless times throughout their six trips to the NBA Finals over the last eight years. No one can demoralize a team like Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors.

And sure enough, they were on one of their patented third-quarter runs in Game 1 of the 2022 NBA Finals. A two-point halftime deficit had been turned into a 15-point lead, and the Celtics were rushing, spinning, panicking.

Boston’s star wing, Jayson Tatum, 24 years old, had just clanked a wide-open 3-pointer at the top of the key. The Warriors, who had been turning defense into great offense all quarter, were poised to run the other way.

The death knell was imminent.

And then 22-year-old Jordan Poole, tasked with pushing the team up the floor, handed the ball right back to Tatum. Boston laid it in and stopped the Warriors’ avalanche of momentum. The Celtics gave themselves a chance going into the fourth quarter.

Man, did they ever take it.

Boston’s 17-0 fourth-quarter run stole Game 1 of the series from the Warriors, 120-108. They outscored Golden State 40-16 in the final frame.

It was a jaw-dropping turnaround. The Warriors were, well, Warriored, as Boston knocked down 3 after 3 with beautiful ball movement and swarming defense.

Warriors forward Draymond Green said after Game 1 that the Warriors “dominated the game for the first 41, 42 minutes.”

I’m not sure that’s true of the game I watched, but regardless, an NBA game is 48 minutes.

Yes, the Warriors had Steph Curry and a bit of Andrew Wiggins, too, but that wasn’t nearly enough when the final buzzer sounded.

In those full 48 minutes, Boston shot better, they played better defense, their lineups went deeper and they were the more composed team in Game 1.

That’s an inauspicious start for Golden State.

Of course, the Warriors’ predicament can be overcome. The Warriors’ 15-point lead was no fluke, either. Boston did not crack any sort of code. They are not heading towards a sweep.

But the issues that showed up for the Warriors and helped them lose Game 1 — the things they can control — are not novel.

And for them to spiral the way they did Thursday puts serious pressure on the Dubs heading into Game 2 on Sunday.

It puts serious pressure on the Warriors’ youngest rotation player, Poole, who was downright unplayable on Thursday.

He finished Game 1 with four turnovers and only two made field goals. Boston outscored the Warriors by 19 when he was on the floor.

So while Curry dominated for the first three quarters, Poole’s negated the superstar’s good work.

And that third-quarter turnover — that lifeline to the Celtics — was a microcosm of his game. It seemed significant at the moment. (The Warriors were doing fine with Poole struggling!) But it proved monumental after Boston made their first seven 3-pointers of the fourth quarter.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr needs to wear this loss, too. He’s been brilliant this postseason, but some of his lineup choices in Game 1 seemed to be more about loyalty than the matchups. The vast majority of the Warriors’ minutes were played with two non-shooters on the floor.

Great defenses, like Boston’s, don’t necessarily shut down the opposing star. No, what they do is force the ball into the hands of players they want to shoot.

For Boston, that’s Green, Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney.

Thursday, that trio took nearly a quarter of the Warriors’ shots (20-of-88) and made only 30 percent with Green going 2-for-12.

Boston will try to get that trio to repeat that output three more times. It’s on Kerr to change his rotations to mitigate the risk those non-shooters present to the Dubs’ offense.

But, those struggles from non-shooters could be negated if Poole is a shooter moving forward in this series.

Source: Paradise Post

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