The Golden State Warriors had a chance to close out the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 5 on Wednesday night, but instead they put forth their worst performance of the season. The Warriors trailed by as many as 55 points (yes, 55 points) en route to a 134-95 loss. The only reason it was “only” a 39-point loss was because the Dubs dominated garbage time in the fourth quarter.
It was a shameful effort for a veteran team with championship experience. To be frank, Golden State hasn’t looked the part of a championship contender for most of this series outside of Game 3, though that game showed the potential in place when things are clicking. Things haven’t really been clicking, though, and the Warriors are lucky they’re still up 3-2 in the series.
Golden State still has a great opportunity to reach the Western Conference Finals. The Dubs will head home for a Game 6 that once again likely won’t feature Ja Morant. The Grizzlies are still really tough without Morant, but a focused Golden State squad should win and advance.
But in order to advance, the Warriors need better performances across the board, so let’s look back at what went wrong in this disastrous Game 5 and who’s to blame.
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Warriors to blame for Game 5 debacle vs. Grizzlies
Stephen Curry and Draymond Green
Everything starts with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, and they flat-out didn’t show up. Curry didn’t do anything to start the game and only took 10 shots in 25 minutes. He finished with 14 points and was a minus-37. Green committed five turnovers as the Warriors were sloppy again with 22 turnovers on the night, and they failed miserably to slow down the Grizzlies without their best player. Green was a minus-32 in the box score.
Golden State didn’t come out with a sense of urgency, which has been a theme throughout these playoffs. The Warriors haven’t won a single first quarter in this series and gave up 38 points in the opening frame of Game 5. Things just spiraled out of control from there.
The main stars must take accountability for these poor starts and this lack of focus. There’s simply too much sloppy play and poor basketball to start these games, and the Dubs can’t count on just coming back all the time. Curry and Green must come out firing on all cylinders in Game 6.
The same can be said for Klay Thompson, who was a game-worst minus-45, but at least he shot 7-of-12 from the field for a team-high 19 points in his 25 minutes. The Dubs will need another strong shooting game from Thompson on Friday.
Poole has been pretty great for most of these playoffs, but he has had a handful of duds as well. Game 5 was the worst of them all.
The Warriors youngster had four turnovers and just three points off the bench in 20 woeful minutes. Poole shot 1-of-6 from the field and was a minus-34. He also committed three fouls in those 20 minutes of action.
Poole’s boneheaded sequence at the end of the first quarter helped set the tone for the entire night. The guard forced a bad pass instead of letting the clock wind down, resulting in a turnover. He then committed a take foul … except the Grizzlies were in the bonus.
Again, sloppy with a total lack of focus and basketball IQ. It permeated the entire Warriors team on Wednesday.
The coaching staff
Just like Curry and Green deserve blame for the horrible starts and the lackluster play in Game 5, the coaching staff also deserves criticism. Mike Brown was the acting head coach again with Steve Kerr out with COVID-19, but Kerr surely had a hand in the starting lineup and the game plan.
The Warriors once again started rookie Jonathan Kuminga, and it once again didn’t work out. While Kuminga has a lot of promise and has shown some flashes in these playoffs, the Dubs must stop starting him. He was a minus-2 in a 30-point win in Game 3 and then started but played just five minutes in Game 4 because things didn’t go well. Despite this, they went to the rookie again in the starting lineup in Game 5 and immediately fell in a hole. Kuminga could be special one day, but that time isn’t now.
Golden State also needs to change up its offensive game plan. There’s too much offense starting with Draymond Green at the top of the key looking to pass off to shooters. Memphis doesn’t respect Green as a shooting threat, which is making the offense more difficult to run.
The Warriors need to get Curry more involved on the ball and run more pick-and-rolls, or they can let Curry cook more in isolations. This is especially true when Steven Adams is on the court. Steph didn’t take a shot until 4:39 remaining in the first quarter and only took 10 for the game. That’s unacceptable and must change.
Green is a great playmaker, but it’s clear Golden State’s offense could use some tweaks. That’s on the coaching staff to figure out, and they also must do a better job preparing these guys to play. Though, of course, that’s also on the players to be ready.
We’ll see if they’re ready in Game 6.