Did Jayson Tatum have the best 3-for-17 performance in postseason history? What adjustments can/should the Warriors make coming off a night when Boston could not miss from behind the three-point line?
The following transcript is an excerpt from the Open Floor podcast. Listen to the full episode on podcast players everywhere gold we SI.com.
Michael Pina: I want to talk about Tatum real quick. So Tatum finished 3-for-17. I feel like he has one dud scoring performance per series. And Boston usually doesn’t survive those games because they need his scoring. He is their best player by far. But he made up for it with 13 assists, two turnovers. And the thing about Tatum’s game was, it’s clear to me that Golden State’s defensive strategy … like when he was hunting the smalls, and even before he hunted the smalls, he would run a pick-and-roll with Rob Williams, and Draymond is in the paint. Draymond is not guarding Tatum, he’s not guarding Rob, he’s just in the paint. He was in the paint the whole game. And I wonder, when you watch the film, as I rewatched the game this morning, ’cause I’m going to be writing about Boston’s offense. I thought the most fascinating part of the game to me was how they were able to score so efficiently, beyond the blitz at the end of the game.
But if you’re Steve Kerr, and you’ve said this many times, do you kind of panic and do you change what you’re doing if you are the Warriors? And do you think Draymond needs to kind of lessen his aggression defensively? Particularly when he’s on … I know Smart hit four threes and Draymond wasn’t guarding him for all of those threes, but Draymond did help off Smart; Draymond helped off Horford dramatically. Should Draymond be a little bit more traditional with his help coverage? I know this is who Draymond is and he’s a genius player and he just is a free safety; that’s how he wreaks havoc, so uniquely, particularly when they’re small. But is that the adjustment that Steve Kerr makes or do you think they are just like, all right, we are still going to take everything at the paint away from Tatum and away from Jaylen. I mean, they only allowed, I think eight shots at the rim in the whole game.
Chris Herring: wow.
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Michael Pina: Golden State’s defense has been tremendous all playoffs long at protecting the paint and keeping guys out of the restricted area. But I think there’s like a happy in between or a happy medium here potentially with Draymond in particular and how aggressive he was helping, because some of it was just like Al Horford is not a bad three-point shooter, like he just, he isn ‘t. You can’t just leave him wide open. So I thought that was interesting. Do you think Steve Kerr will change it up? I guess is my question after my ramble.
Chris Herring: So yeah, I think they probably will at least tweak that. I think it would be a mistake to kind of go completely the other direction. But I think the truth is you could live with Tatum scoring a little bit more than he did. What did he have 12 or something like that? I would rather have Tatum have 20 and not spray the ball out for 13 assists or whatever it was. And even before the fourth quarter. …Even before the game got really far in, Tatum had what? Seven assists in the first half or something like that. I think he had more assists in the first half when the Celtics weren’t making everything under the sun than he did in the second.
Michael Pina: Yeah, he read the game perfectly.
Chris Herring: He read the game really, really well. And I mean, you’ve seen guys have stinkers of a performance where they’re not shooting well, but they’re not giving you anything else. Tatum played pretty good defense in that game, and he sprayed the ball all over the place. And if anybody really benefited from the late-game flurry of threes, I think Brown had 10 points in that fourth and I think he had five assists. So I think he was kind of the beneficiary of a lot of those makes at the end of the game from an assistant standpoint, Tatum had a couple as well, particularly the one to Pritchard out in the corner.
But, I would rather live with Tatum kind of having 20, or maybe closer to his 25 and a few assists as opposed to 13, because that signals right away that everybody else is beating you. If you’re the Warriors, you’re trying to triage it to some extent. You don’t want to have to worry about five different people all the time. Now that’s the reality of defense, but you’re trying to figure out, like, if there’s one guy that’s really going off on you, then you adjust to it. So that’s what I’m saying. I think you could take your foot off the pedal a little bit with regards to Tatum, because if you could hold him to 10 or 12 each game, that’s wonderful, but I don’t even know that you have to do that. But you can’t afford to give two or three different guys 20 points and then have another guy go off for 18, which I think was Smart. So I would be fine with maybe being a little bit less aggressive toward Tatum, just to make sure that you’re a little bit more attached to the other shooters to make sure you don’t have a performance like this again from the others. So that would kind of be my thought process with it.
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