SAN FRANCISCO — Draymond Green and Stephen Curry kicked off a run for the life of a dynasty on Wednesday and will continue to run until this series, this postseason and this whole thing is over. Run until someone stops them or time runs out. Desperately run. I run with intent. Run and let’s see who can stop them.
The Warriors ran into the Lakers in Game Five. They collided with the Lakers. They ran through the Lakers. They got the Lakers running with them. They’ll run to Game 6, and if they survive, they’ll run more in Game 7. Whoever’s left standing at the finish line, proud and panting, will survive this second-round series.
More specifically, Draymond, Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Gary Payton II, and Jordan Poole pulled off shutouts by turning Game 5 into a four-quarter race and holding off LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Lakers for a 121-106 win at Chase Center. Of course, the Lakers still have a 3-2 lead and could eliminate the Warriors on Friday in Los Angeles, as the Warriors lost Games 3 and 4 to put themselves in that predicament.
But among Game 5’s many highly effective strategic tweaks, the Warriors’ crisp and determined efforts to grab every bounce and start running seem to have the biggest potential big picture effects. Really, this could come down to a team that still has its legs in the later rounds of this title fight. And the Warriors want to put as much mileage on LeBron and Davis (if he’s okay after getting hit in the face and leaving the game early in the fourth quarter on Wednesday) as possible.
“We want to push their guys,” Steve Kerr told me after his press conference. “I’m sure they feel the same way. Last game, they were putting Steve on all those shots, so they’re trying to tire Steve out. We’re trying to tire Davis and LeBron out. It’s a long series. So it’s a little attritional battle, and we just have to keep pushing the tempo.”
Official statistics say the Warriors scored 13 fast break points. The Lakers scored 15. But the Warriors’ play speed exceeds that raw total. As Draymond flew down the field at full speed, not only did Davis and LeBron force runs, but the Lakers also forced an emergency defense that wasn’t quite mapped even as it regained half-court possession.
“Push up the pace early because they’re a great defensive team,” Kerr said. “Anytime we’re playing a good team in the half you have to go out and run just to create advantages so you don’t come up against a set defence. I thought the guys set that tone in the first half. Draymond was driving the ball crazy, so was Steve, the guys were running in arcade.
“Fast breaking points never tell the story. Sometimes you just push the ball forward and that creates a defense mixed with occasional matches, then the ball swings around and someone throws an open look. It may not be a fast bucket, but it’s a bucket of pace.”
The Warriors can play faster with the new junior starting lineup (first deployed in Game 4), which turns Gary Payton II into Kevon Looney. Even though Payton isn’t an offensive builder, he ramps up his speed by playing such great defense, which helps the Warriors avoid screwing up the Lakers too often and stopping the game too often. And GP2 (25-plus game best in 27 minutes) is also a great runner, either finishing a fast break (scoring 13 points) or dragging a Laker player with him at full speed all the way. floor.
The Warriors are trying to increase Davis’ workload at the half court as well, by dragging him to every pick-and-roll curry game, which pulls him to the 3-point line. On Wednesday, those lanes opened up for Draymond’s drivers (20 points on Wednesday after scoring a combined 27 in the first four games of the series), midrange Wiggins (25 points on 10-of-18 shooting) and a bit of a. Revived the performance of Paul, who only hit 5 of his 14 shots but was in the same rhythm throughout the game.
Did all of this take some Lakers juice? In the second half, Davis only scored 5 points and was -8 in the 12 minutes before leaving the game. LeBron has been good throughout his tenure, but he plays another 39 minutes in Game 5 after playing 43 in Game 4. The Warriors’ big guns play heavy minutes as well, but perhaps the losses will affect the larger and more powerful Lakers differently.
Either way, the Warriors are determined to keep up the four quarters dash. Perhaps the continuation of this era depends on it. And four times heroes don’t die so easily. That’s when they really started running.
“I think it’s mostly up to me, Draymond, (Poole) when he’s there, to do it, to push him,” Curry said. “But it’s just important because, sometimes, they’re a great team with M. They put a lot of pressure on you on offense. So you try to create whatever advantage you can. That’s a big thing. And part of that is just trying to get them off the foul line as much as possible just because It slows down the game and gives them free points and puts their defense down.
“So you want to get stops, but even if they score, that’s our advantage in the series is our speed and the fact that I can push, Draymond can push, (Poole) can push, we’ve got the guys running in the lane going, the floor spacing. So it’s hard to do that.” , but it helps us counter what they do so well.”
The little ball unit also has another effect: It pretty much puts the Lakers’ best defenseman, Jared Vanderbilt, out of action (only 11 minutes on Wednesday) because the Warriors simply don’t defend him, which completely spoils the Lakers’ offensive haul. This puts Dennis Schroeder in a bigger role, and the Warriors offense is a good one at that.
Additionally, in Game 5, the Warriors focused on trying to keep Curry out of pick-and-roll, which the Lakers focused on in Game 4 by forcing Curry to single out against LeBron and the other scorers over and over again. On Wednesday, the Warriors were fighting through screens instead of switching, which kept Curry on his man most of the time.
“We did better than that tonight,” Kerr said. “We’re not afraid of Steph changing the pickup because he’s so strong. He’s a different guy than he was eight or seven years ago. But if we can avoid that, maybe we can avoid that too and not let them put it in a pickup and roll over and over again.”
The Warriors almost certainly won’t be able to pull all this off in LA on Friday. Lakers will play better. You’re more likely to get a role player doing something surprising at home than on the road, the way Lonnie Walker IV put up 15 fourth-quarter points in Game 4 at the Crypto.com Arena. But the Warriors think they have something with GP2 in the starting lineup and align themselves with D’Angelo Russell. They know they can run the Lakers. They don’t know if they’ll win Game 6, but as they have in many series before this one, the Warriors have worked their way up some solutions they love.
Hey, they avoided elimination without even getting a lot of shots on the outside from Curry and Klay Thompson. After a shooting night for both of them in Game 4, neither was hot in Game 5. Curry was only 3-of-11 from 3-point shooting on Wednesday and Clay was only 3-of-12 overall. Could they expect one or both of the Splash brothers to be big soon?
“We’re still waiting for that match, which is a great sign,” Kerr said. “I thought we played well tonight but not our best. We can do better. We can be sharper. But what I liked about tonight is that we didn’t miss. I think they shot 15 free throws, which was even. We shot 15.” “Too. And for the most part, we looked after the ball and bounced back. And those were the keys. If we do those things, we can win whether we go out or not. But if we do those things and have a hot shooting night, we’re in good shape.”
The warriors are not finished yet. The end may come soon, and it may not be. But you could see it in their eyes and the way they attacked this game: The Warriors didn’t finish running because they didn’t finish running. And the faster they go, the harder it will be for the Lakers to defeat them for good.
(Photo: Theron W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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