The Los Angeles Lakers found a way to win Game 1 despite allowing a late 14-0 run by the Golden State Warriors.
From a preparation standpoint, I loved the game plan that the coaching staff put together. Heading into Game 2 though, it’s just about tightening up that game plan and being prepared for the adjustments that you know the Warriors will make.
What Adjustments Can The Warriors Make?
The biggest adjustment to expect from the Warriors is for them to utilize Stephen Curry in ball screens a lot more. They were tied for last during the regular season in the frequency of their offensive possessions using a ball screen. Only 13.5% of the Warriors’ scoring possessions ended with the pick-and-roll ball-handler. How Synergy Sports classifies a scoring possession is by either a shot attempt, turnover, or foul. When you include pass-outs, the Warriors still rank dead last.
In Game 1, only 18 possessions from the Warriors involved a ball screen. That number will likely change for Game 2. In the last regular season matchup between the two teams on March 5, the Warriors had 37 possessions that utilized some sort of ball screen. I’m not sure if we’ll see that high volume from the Warriors, but I definitely expect to see a higher dosage of ball screens from Golden State.
When you look at the Warriors’ ball screen attack, the head of the snake is without a doubt Curry. He makes up for 35.8% of the Warriors’ ball screen offense. The way we saw the Lakers try to guard the Warriors’ ball screens is by playing a “High Drop Coverage.”
On this high pick-and-roll with Curry and Draymond Green, Anthony Davis is playing the high drop to perfection, and Dennis Schroder does a great job recovering and getting back to Curry. Schroder does a good job contesting as Curry misses the 3-pointer. There isn’t a specific coverage that is perfect for guarding Curry, but the Lakers utilizing their high drop with Davis is their best bet.
This is another encouraging possession for defending Curry pick-and-rolls. Jarred Vanderbilt does a great job hustling to fight around the Kevon Looney screens and Davis does a great job once again playing in the high drop. When Curry gives the ball to Green, he does a great job relocating as Andrew Wiggins attempts to set an “Exit Screen” for Curry in the corner. Vanderbilt does a great job on this possession and somehow forces the contested Curry floater.
This is another encouraging possession from the Lakers’ defense. When the Lakers throw out lineups including Schroder, Austin Reaves and Vanderbilt, they are able to get more versatile with their defensive coverages. This is due to the Lakers having three different players that, for any single possession, could do a serviceable job guarding Curry.
Green sets a wide pindown for Curry, who fights around the top-locking from the Lakers. However, since Schroder was in the action and Vanderbilt is guarding Green, the Lakers are able just to switch this action. When Curry goes for the handoff, the Lakers are able to switch that as well, and Reaves does a great job getting a contest on the Curry shot attempt.
The Lakers have a few things to tighten up on both ends of the floor from an execution standpoint. However, if they are able to execute their ball-screen coverages for Stephen Curry and tighten up their off-ball screen coverages for players such as Jordan Poole and Klay Thompson, that may lead to another victory.
If the Lakers are able to take a commanding 2-0 series lead, that could be the deciding factor in this series.