Here is a link to my Monday Warriors column. The full text runs below:
MEMPHIS — The Golden State Warriors are trying to relate as a group.
That is good to know.
On Saturday night after the Memphis Grizzlies beat them up, some Warriors went to Beale Street, the loud, raucous, happening street in downtown Memphis. Let’s allow Draymond Green, who met the media Sunday, to narrate.
Green went to Beale and, “just sat and relaxed. I actually texted Steph (Curry). I was already there. I texted him. I said, ‘What you doing?’
“ ‘Nothing. Sitting in the room.’
“ ‘Come here and just relax.’
“It was good. Steph usually stays in the room. Me and DLee (David Lee) were over there. And Festus (Ezeli) was over there, ‘So, come over here and relax, sit back, eat, talk. Just kick back.’ When Steph walked in, people were taking pictures from outside the window.”
OK, we learned something. Curry usually stays in his room but on Saturday he socialized for the good of the team. We learned something else. Green spoke about the Warriors’ Sunday morning video session, players and coaches studying Game 3.
“We watched the entire game,” Green said. “There were times we moved the ball and we trusted each other. There were times we didn’t trust each other. I tried to do too much or Steph tried to do too much or Klay (Thompson) tried to do too much, whoever it was. Just got to make sure we’re trusting each other on the offensive and defensive end.”
Steve Kerr, who followed Green in the interview room, addressed the same theme. “Steph has a big burden,” he said. “He’s the MVP of the league. Their defensive focus is on him. We’ve got to do a better job of helping free him up and he’s got to do a better job of trusting his teammates. As a group, we have to just play and trust the process.”
Quiz: What was the operative word, the key word, in those last two quotes from Green and the coach?
If you said “trust,” you get the prize. Not that there is a prize.
Let’s get this straight. The Warriors need to trust each other more. Maybe they worked on trust at Beale Street.
I have no idea what trust means in basketball. I admit that. Little kids all over the world probably talk all the time about trust and bounce passes, and trust and jump shots. I guess. So, sure, I admit I’m a basketball trust dope. But that’s not the point. The Warriors played an entire season, got the best record in the league, stormed through the first round of the playoffs and, suddenly, they realized, “Whoops, we omitted the trust part.”
Now, they’re doing a crash course in trust so they can eliminate the all-important trust gap and win Game 4 tonight. So they can tie up this hard, grim, fascinating series. Seems kind of late in the semester for the class in trust. I’ll tell you something else, and it’s about Green.
Lots of bellyaching from the Warriors when he didn’t win the award for Defensive Player of the Year. The Warriors were morally offended. Like the vote was fixed. Or the voters disrespected Green and the Warriors. Really?
Zach Randolph is handling Green. Dominating. Backing up Green and shooting over him with that gentle sweet swish jump shot. “Stop me, Draymond.”
The other day, I asked Kerr about Randolph going nuts offensively. “We can live with that,” Kerr said. Dismissive tone.
Live with it?
How about die with it?
Don’t you get the feeling Green is getting exposed in this series? Good defensive player except now when it counts. Shot 1 for 8 Saturday night. Six points. And they’re talking about a “max contract” for him after this season, if not from the Warriors, then maybe the Pistons.
Maybe someone should study the fine print before anyone dots the I’s and crosses the T’s and signs the document.
Green defended his defense, the entire Warriors’ defense. “I think they had 99 points last night and 97 the game before,” he said. “Usually, we can win games like that.”
He meant — I think — the Warriors’ defense is just hunky dory because it held the Grizzlies under 100 points in each game. Sure. It’s just that Memphis has won two in a row. It’s just that the Grizzlies win low-scoring games. It’s what they do. They make the game low and slow. It’s their battle-and-bruise strategy. Part of their style is to take the Warriors out of their fast, high-flying, high-scoring game. This series hinges on which style prevails. If the score is low, the Warriors are in trouble because it’s a Memphis grit-and-grind game.
The Grizzlies have better big men than the Warriors. Marc Gasol and Randolph are superior to Andrew Bogut and Green. No disrespect to the Warriors. Bogut and Green and exceptional. Just not as good as the other guys. But the Warriors guards are better than the Grizzlies guards, even when Mike Conley plays for Memphis. Curry and Thompson have to get off for the Warriors to win. The Grizzlies have refused to cooperate. The Warriors must change that.
Look, I expect the Warriors to win this series. I still do. They are vastly talented and they have Curry, and I imagine him just going nuts. No one can hold him (relatively) down game after game. But the Warriors still seem so innocent, so unprepared.
“The playoffs have started now,” Green bravely said on Sunday. “It’s really time to buckle down now.”
Actually, the playoffs started weeks ago.
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