The Utah Jazz played defense. They made shots. They even had their first lead of the series. They held Klay Thompson to 11% from the field. 11 percent. Curry was limited to 30% from field goal range. Didn’t matter. Why? Kevin Durant had 38 points and a 57 percent field goal average.
So really, it wasn’t that Utah was making shots, the Warriors were missing. And despite that, the Warriors won. Curry found his stride in the last two minutes of the 3rd quarter, ended up scoring 23, and Andre held it down for 11 points in terms of Warriors scoring in double digits. If only Gordon Hayward had 10 more points. But he can’t score on Durant as easily as Durant can score on him. That’s not to say Hayward’s a bad defender, it’s just Durant is so much better – and lengthier.
The obvious question becomes: Can the Jazz take one game against the Warriors? Easy answer. No. A better question would be: Will the Warriors drop a game against the Jazz?
The Warriors are notorious for their inconsistent play in the playoffs. Look back at the Western Conference Finals and the Finals. When their backs were against the wall, they rose to the occasion. When they put their opponents against the wall, they faltered. The Warriors have a group of players that feed off being the underdog. Problem is, they’re never the underdog. Even in last years’ finals, it wasn’t until Game 7 where people felt like it was the Cavs to lose. And even then no one would have been surprised by the Warriors winning.
If there’s one thing the Warriors still haven’t learned to do consistently – that is the key word here – it’s keeping their foot on the gas. I don’t think its complacency. I think it’s boredom. They lose focus. Kerr has eluded to this with his star in Curry. But what the frick are they focusing on in those moments? Parades? Girls? Ring fittings? Next year? What is there to be bored about when you have to take on the best player in the game?
Now, in the case of the Utah Jazz, I can understand how they may get bored. As good as Hayward and Gobert are, they’re not Green and Durant. They’re young and quite frankly, they barely keep up. The Warriors are ready to move on like a senior in high school.
So for now, the Warriors can get away with Klay Thompson basically sitting on the bench and Curry showing up to the game super late. But we always hear about how competitive Curry is, how hungry Klay is. Maybe they’ve been satiated in this series but they need to start playing as if they’re about to take on LeBron and the Cavs. They need to live up to that competitive spirit night in and out. When I think about a competitive drive, I think about Kevin Garnett, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan. We need to see more assassin from the Baby Face Assassin.
And if there’s one difference between the Cavs and Warriors, at least that’s been made public, LeBron acknowledged (without actually saying it) their fight is against the Warriors and so far, it doesn’t look like the Warriors are keeping LeBron and the Cavs in mind.