by Janelle Moore
Anthony Davis said that Game 1 was a must win for his Los Angeles Lakers and behind his 30 points, 23 rebounds, five assists, and four block performances, that’s what they got. Los Angeles weathered a Golden State Warriors’ late 14-point run to hold on for a 117-112 victory at Chase Center. Here are more observations from Game 1 of this box office Western Conference Semifinal matchup.
Dictating The Pace
Despite surviving their first-round matchup against the speedy Sacramento Kings, the Warriors came out the gate in game 1 running in transition. They set the pace and the tempo for a quick eight-point lead in the first quarter. Attempting to run the Lakers off the floor wasn’t a bad idea in theory since the Lakers are a bigger and slower team. However, the Lakers kept up and they were a plus-1 in fast break points.
Golden State thrived off of threes in transition and won the three-point battle (18/44 for 40.9 percent ) Even with the threes, the Lakers were close and even took a one-point lead at halftime. They did this mainly because of the next point.
The Fouls. The Fouls. The Fouls!
In the first half, the Lakers had a 17-3 free throw advantage. The Warriors committed 21 fouls in the game. Granted, there were some calls that were nit-picky. However, it doesn’t negate the fact that the Warriors struggled to defend without fouling. That inability to defend without fouling is the main reason why the Warriors’ rotation was compromised. Draymond Green picked up three early fouls-limiting his defensive impact. Part of this foul discrepancy is a favorable whistle. Another part of this is about size, which brings me to ….
Where In The World Was Jonathan Kuminga?
The Lakers are a long, and athletic team. This is why players such as Andrew Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga are the Warriors’ X-Factors in the series. In Kuminga, the Warriors have a lob threat in the dunkers’ spot when the Lakers are in drop coverage.
Knowing that the Lakers have the advantage in size and athleticism, you would think that Kuminga get some run. For whatever reason Kuminga was a DNP for Game 1. The Warriors could have used his rim running to put pressure on the Lakers’ interior defense. The Warriors could have used is the ability to defend and help crash the boards. He might get a few minutes in Game 2…maybe.
Three-Quarters Late And a Game Short
I understand why the Warriors run the motion offense. I also understand it’s the offense that won four NBA titles. I get all of that. However, sometimes it’s more like a cheap hair care product than a championship offense.
The Lakers bottled up the Warriors’ DHO options, clogging up and denying the action. That was until Stephen Curry got the ball in his hands. With 6:39 remaining, the Warriors went small and spread the floor. Also, they ran pick-and-roll with Curry handling the ball. The result? A 14-point run at the end of the game. Curry scored 9 of their points. Again, I understand trying motion. Despite running drop, the Lakers’ backline made it tough to get shots in the paint. However, an aggressive, decisive, and ball-dominant Curry is harder to guard.