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After splitting the first two games in Los Angeles, the first round Warriors-Clippers playoff series moves north to Oracle Arena for Games 3 and 4. Grant Hughes (Bleacher Report), Adam Lauridsen (Fast Break), and Jordan Ramirez (Warriors World) weigh in with some of their thoughts on the series so far.

What is the biggest adjustment that the Warriors need to make?

Grant Hughes | Bleacher Report | @g30three
Does petitioning the NBA to postpone the series until Andrew Bogut can return count as an adjustment?

Failing that, the Warriors need to figure out a way to succeed on offense when the Clippers trap Stephen Curry away from the basket. This shouldn't be all that tough, as we've seen them handle the kind of action L.A. is using before—occasionally in Game 1 and most effectively in a huge win over the Miami Heat back in January. Golden State can take advantage of aggressive traps on Curry, as long as the point guard gets rid of the ball quickly and the rest of the Dubs immediately pounce on the resulting 4-on-3 opportunity. Figuring out how to capitalize on the Clips' point-of-attack defense won't slow down Blake Griffin or keep DeAndre Jordan from dominating the lane on both ends (they need Bogut for both of those tasks), but it could cut down turnovers and force Los Angeles to play Curry more honestly.

Adam Lauridsen | Fast Break | @GSWFastBreak
On offense, the Warriors need to find a way to break the double-team pressure that the Clippers are rushing at Curry. It's been the best strategy for containing him all season, and the team has struggled to take advantage of the opportunities double-teams create. Whether they move Curry off the ball or run something other than high-post pick and rolls, they need a new approach to get their best player free. On defense, it may be time to double Blake Griffin. He was overpowering on Monday, but flashing a smaller player at him in the post produced a few turnovers. I'd rather take my chances with Matt Barnes or J.J. Redick going off than give Griffin another easy 30+ points.

Jordan Ramirez | Warriors World | @JRAM_91
The same problem that has haunted the Warriors throughout the regular season hasn’t suddenly vanished, as the team is still struggling to find open looks for Stephen Curry. The playoffs are game of chess not checkers, and Doc Rivers has already shown why the Clippers acquired him as head coach. Conversely, Mark Jackson looks to be running out of possible moves already by the look of his offensive sets. The Clippers are trapping Curry every chance they get, repeatedly doubling the superstar above the three-point arc and forcing the ball out of his hands. This isn’t some rare occurrence, but Curry has struggled and his coach isn’t doing much to help his franchise player get going. They’re hounding Curry at every possible turn, turning him into a mere mortal through two games. The Clippers defense has limited Curry to 23% shooting from beyond the arc, and his 45% shooting from the field is much more attributable to Curry’s talent than the team’s offensive structure. Mark Jackson is showing his inexperience, but there’s time to recover and resolve the issue at hand. The answer might be playing Curry in more off-ball situations with Steve Blake or Andre Iguodala as the primary ball handler, using the Curry-Thompson-Iguodala-Green-Lee lineup (only 4 minutes combined for the series) more or involving Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green in more pick-and-roll situations with Curry. Either way, it’s Mark Jackson’s move, and this series depends on what that move is.

Marreese Speights has averaged 7.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in 14.6 minutes over the first two games of the series. (photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty)

What has been the biggest surprise of the series so far?

Jordan Ramirez | Warriors World | @JRAM_91
Ridiculed for much of the season, Mo Speights has stepped up and delivered in his 30 minutes of action through the first two games. He’s brought energy in the frontcourt, rebounding and has cleaned up around the basket for points the Warriors desperately have needed. The six-year veteran from Florida was in Mark Jackson’s doghouse as recently as March, playing just 30 minutes in nine games (3.3 MPG) and seemingly out of the picture when it came to possible playoff contributions. But, with anguish came opportunity. Andrew Bogut goes down with a fractured rib, and while the Warriors would prefer to go small with their 4-out lineups, the surprising production from Speights has helped against the formidable Blake Griffin-DeAndre Jordan duo. His minutes will largely be determined on the flow of each game (foul trouble, rotations, etc.), but that doesn’t lessen the importance of his time on the floor. Speights was signed in the offseason as the immediate replacement for Carl Landry, and while he’ll never be the offensive talent that Landry is, he can provide the energy and handle the dirty work inside to make his time every bit as critical. It’s been a surprising two games for Speights, and with the Warriors lacking their mainstay at the center position, the Warriors will take all the production they can get from the position.

Grant Hughes | Bleacher Report | @g30three
Aside from DeAndre Jordan actually making free throws (Who saw that coming?), I think I'm most surprised by how similar the Warriors look to the regular-season version of themselves. We're still seeing sluggish starts and the curiously common use of five-man bench units, things many expected would disappear in the high-leverage playoff environment. By and large, the offense looks the same, and there haven't been many notable tweaks cooked up to attack the Clippers' weaknesses. Golden State won 51 games this season, so there's probably a "if it's not broken, don't fix it" case to be made on this point.

I expect the 40-point loss in Game 2 to be the catalyst for a few changes, and we should see shorter rotations and better start-to-finish effort going forward. As for Jordan and his foul shooting...let's just say it's hard to imagine another 7-of-8 night from the line.

Adam Lauridsen | Fast Break | @GSWFastBreak
Curry has yet to have a big game. He got it going in the third quarter of Game 2, but only after the Clippers built a 30+ point lead and pulled the double-team off him. The Warriors' playoffs last year were defined by Curry's all-consuming hot streaks. They could really use one of those from him in Game 3.

 

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Golden State Warriors.

 

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