Warriors need more from Jordan Poole, but will his ankle allow for that?
SAN FRANCISCO — Jordan Poole posing more of a downhill threat and getting to the free-throw line could be the difference-maker the Warriors need to counter the upstart Sacramento Kings.
Poole can be most impactful when he’s aggressive attacking the rim and making smart plays with the ball. He led the team with 550 points in the paint this season. He also got to the free throw line a team-high 415 times. But concern over his bum left ankle might hinder him from being able to do that.
Poole started this first-round series strong. He was smart and effective on offense and disrupted some on defense.
Poole scored 13 points on 4 of 7 shooting and got to the free-throw line four times in the first half of Game 1 on Saturday.
But he sprained his ankle late third quarter and hasn’t been the same since.
Poole has tallied just eight points — six of which have come on free throws — over the last six quarters of this series. He has shot 1-for-10 from the field during that span, missing all six of his 3-point attempts.
That’s not enough for the Warriors.
It’s hard to say how much Poole’s sprained ankle from Game 1 is impacting him. But it was bad enough Monday night that Klay Thompson described the fourth-year guard as playing with “half a foot.”
Coach Steve Kerr also praised Poole for toughening it out.
“I was really proud of him for playing the other night,” Kerr said. “His ankle was really swollen, it was not pretty. But he gutted it out. I know it wasn’t a great game for him but his effort and his approach, his attitude was fantastic. I think he will be rewarded for the way he handled these last few days… Frankly, a lot of people wouldn’t play, and I just have a lot of faith in Jordan.”
The Warriors and Kings had an extra off day between Games 2 and 3. Poole should benefit from the added rest.
Kerr described Poole as “fine” in Wednesday’s practice. He’s listed as questionable for Game 3 on Thursday at Chase Center along with Andrew Wiggins (right shoulder soreness) and Gary Payton II (sick). Draymond Green won’t be in the building Thursday as he serves a one-game suspension for stomping on Kings center Domantas Sabonis in Game 2 and for having what the league called a “history of unsportsmanlike acts.”
Playoffs are the time when athletes push their bodies to the limit. It might be a lot to ask for, but the Warriors remain confident Poole can answer the call.
Poole solidified himself as a top-six player with last season’s title run. And the Warriors signed him to a lucrative extension before this season to be a cornerstone of the future.
Overall, it’s been a rocky season for Poole as he’s struggled at times to adjust to opponents paying more attention to him in their defensive game plans than a year ago.
With the Warriors down 2-0 for the first time under Kerr, Golden State is hoping that the series moving to San Francisco for the next two games will swing momentum in their favor.
It’ll take a full-team effort to help make up the void felt by Draymond Green’s absence in Thursday’s game at Chase Center. The Warriors need everyone to step up if they want to get back into this series. Expect Poole to play a big part in that — if his ankle allows.