California Dolphin: statewide California news

Kurtenbach: The Warriors can’t let their guard down in Game 4. Here’s why that could be tougher than expected

A day after his team was blown out by 41 points in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni made a curious statement.
“To me, Golden State has all the pressure,” D’Antoni said at Rockets practice at the University of San Francisco Monday. “They got to win tomorrow night.”
Game 4 is a must-win… for the Warriors?
That’s interesting.
But thinking about D’Antoni’s statement for an extra beat, I found some truth behind it.
Rockets have been written off — including by yours truly (no regrets) — after their landslide loss Sunday. The worst has already happened for them and they’re now playing with house money. And if they add the necessary “swagger” and “giddy up” to their game — D’Antoni’s words, not mine — and beat Golden State Tuesday, the series becomes a best-of-three affair where the Rockets have home court. Hardly ideal for the Warriors.
At the same time, the Warriors can claim the series — for all intents and purposes — on Tuesday night with a win.
So yeah, Game 4 is critical. And while D’Antoni might need to re-calibrate his pressure scales, he’s right to insinuate that Warriors need to take care of business on Tuesday.
That said, it will be a bit more difficult for the Warriors to do that without Andre Iguodala in the lineup.
Golden State Warriors’ Andre Iguodala (9) finds a spot in the tunnel to stand before the start of Game 4 of their NBA first-round playoff series at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, on Sunday, April 22, 2018. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 
The Warriors’ forward is unlikely to play — the team has listed him as “doubtful” on the injury report — after he appeared to bump knees with James Harden in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game.
The Warriors have made it clear in this series they control their own destiny — pardon the cliche, but the only team that can sabotage Golden State’s path to back-to-back titles and a third championship in four years is Golden State. When the Warriors are playing focused, aggressive basketball, there isn’t a team in the NBA that can keep up with them — as evidenced by Sunday night’s win. But these Warriors are also prone to lapses in that focus and force.
“I think we’re at our best when we feel threatened,” Draymond Green said before Game 3.
Well, there are few things less threatening than a team you just beat by 41 points.
Iguodala has proven himself to be a harbinger for the Warriors this year — when he’s engaged the way he was engaged in Game 3, his teammates typically follow his lead, and as we’ve seen countless times, this team, when focused, is extremely difficult to beat.
“When we’re right, when we’re playing how we are supposed to play, Andre’s right in the middle of it,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after Game 3. “His defense and being smart, making good decisions. Andre is one of the guys who seems to set the tone for that for us.”
I’d go as far to say that Iguodala is the Warriors’ dean, and Golden State will without a doubt miss his calming influence in Game 4 should he not play.
Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) and Andre Iguodala (9) celebrate in the third quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Western Conference semifinals against the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, April 28, 2018. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) 
All season long, Iguodala’s Warriors teammates and coaches have belabored the point that so much of what makes the forward great doesn’t show up in the box score — intuitive help defense, pace-setting, and a calming influence, driven by his prodigious intellect — but the box score tells a good story as well.
“He always has a couple of steals, four, five rebounds, five points, four or five assists — he just does it all,” Warriors wing Klay Thompson said Monday. “He always makes the right play. He just sees basketball at a very high level, and while I’m not a huge believer in analytics, I’m sure the analytics are on his side.”
The analytics — as well as the folks in Las Vegas — are still on the Warriors’ side to win Tuesday, even with Iguodala’s injury, which will likely stretch the Warriors’ already thin bench. (Who is ready for serious Nick Young run?)
The logical side of all of this looks at Stephen Curry’s breakout and the Warriors’ great metrics when Kevon Looney (who is likely to get a solid chunk of Iguodala’s minutes — possibly starting if Young doesn’t get the call) is on the court in this series, pairs those things with the fact that the Warriors won by 41 points on Sunday, and sees another Warriors win coming down the pipeline Tuesday.
But we all know with these Warriors the emotional element is paramount.
(Is it a good thing that Young might start, Quinn Cook might need to contribute, or that Shaun Livingston’s tremendous minutes might be stretched out? Not really, but, again, the Warriors just won by 41 — there’s some margin for error if Curry is scoring and the Warriors’ defense maintains its energy.)
The Warriors said Monday that they are aware that — Iguodala or not — focus will separate the game.
“You forget about [Game 3] and you play as if you want to win a championship,” Klay Thompson said. “We do not want to give them home court again, so we have to exert ourselves tomorrow.”
The Warriors were aware of a similar thing ahead of Game 2 as well. How’d that work out?
Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green (23) reacts after being fouled by Houston Rockets’ James Harden (13) during the third quarter of Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, May 20, 2018. The Golden State Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets 126-85. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
The difference this time around is that for Game 4, the Warriors will have a home crowd behind them.
The Warriors have won an NBA record 16 straight home games in the postseason, and while so much of that has to do with the fact that they’re supremely talented and went 16-1 in last year’s playoffs, you can’t undercut the value of playing at home for any team, especially Golden State.
The Warriors have posted a net rating (point differential per 100 possessions) of 17.9 at home this postseason — a massive number. The Warriors are the best road team in the NBA this postseason, per that metric, as well, but they only have a net rating of 1.8 on the road.
“I feel like definitely with a 6-0 run, it could turn into a 12-, 14-0 run at home,” Kevin Durant said Monday.
While Durant wanted to undercut the importance of home-court advantage, but the ability to double up runs is hardly unimportant.
The Warriors might not be able to tap into the positive energy of Iguodala on Tuesday, but if they can find similar inspiration in the home court, they could be in good shape — though another 41-point win, in a “must-win” game, is probably out of the question.

Top News

Ain't No God; don't even think about theism

UnFox News: not a propaganda arm of the Republican party