We saw two different teams in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals but the one consistent theme was Kevin Durant. There was no stopping the guy as he was a walking bucket getting whatever he wanted on the floor. With that being said, Durant’s greatness came in the absence of the others.
The body language of the Warriors in Game 2 was horrific. After a couple bad turnovers and not getting back on defense, it was obvious what type of game it was going to be for Golden State. But what stood out to me, even more, was their offense or lack thereof. Here’s a quick glimpse of the isolation numbers for Golden State in this series (via USA Today):
The Warriors, who ranked 17th in isolation possessions during the regular season at 6.9 per game, are averaging 25.5 isolation possessions in the first two games against Houston (27 and 24, respectively, according to Synergy Sports). Not only is that nearly four times their norm, but it’s nearly twice as much as Houston’s regular season mark of 15.6 that led the league.
The Durant isolation plays worked great in Game 1 but it worked great because Klay Thompson was able to get off as well. That wasn’t apparent in Game 2. The motion and the pace weren’t there in Game 2 and I believe that was the difference. Possession after possession, the Warriors sought Durant in isolation plays and that just isn’t their style of play. It also didn’t help that they couldn’t get a stop on the other side of the ball either but the offense for the defending Champs wasn’t their norm.
Draymond Green was asked about the possibility of their being too much Durant in Game 2 and he completely wrote it off:
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) May 17, 2018
Golden State is known for ball movement and player movement. They’re at their best when guys are moving, setting screens and the defense is scrambling. Due to the success in Game 1, they fell victim to isolation basketball and if they continue this same style of play, they could see themselves going home early. I understand that Durant is a phenomenal scorer but the purpose of him coming to Golden State was so that he could get his shots within the fluidity of the offense.
Also with Stephen Curry struggling, running their offense could get him shots. They’ve defended him well and with him concerting so much effort on the defensive side of the ball, it’s evident that he’s fatigued. However, it’s in the best interest of the Warriors to move and try to get him open. It’s clear that Thompson and Curry have to get shots and those shots come within the flow of the offense. But with so much isolation to Durant and guys just standing around, that’s not happening.
There was a lack of rhythm in the last game and you have to credit the Rockets defense for being stifling. Similar to the Warriors gameplan, Houston has been switching everything on defense and it has completely thrown the Warriors off. However, to combat that, the Warriors have to get stops, dictate the pace and continue to move on the offensive side of the ball. I’m expecting a more aggressive and uptempo Warriors team in Game 3. Durant is going to get his but it’s important that Thompson and Curry get their shots as well. Motion, motion, motion has granted them success for four years straight so why change now?