HOUSTON — The Golden State Warriors say they’re not worried about their postseason future, despite the fact that after losing Game 4 to the Houston Rockets 112-108 on Monday night they find themselves tied 2-2 in a hard-fought Western Conference semifinal series.
After winning three of the past four NBA championships and earning four straight trips to the NBA Finals, the Warriors showed no panic after another disappointing loss on the road.
“I think our vibe is just great,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “Because everybody’s just looking at each other like we know if we just correct the effort things we’re just fine. And so everybody’s spirits are up, everyone’s feeling good about the opportunity that we have. We didn’t feel this way after Game 4 last year [against the Rockets] that’s for sure. Andre [Iguodala] had just went out [with a left knee injury]. We spent Game 4 trying to figure out who that guy [to replace him] would be. There were just so many questions that needed to be answered.
“Those questions aren’t there this year. We know the answer to our problem, and that’s pretty exciting because that’s my department to lead in and I know I’ll lead that department and bring it. And if I do I have no doubt that everyone else will follow and we’ll win, so it’s exciting for me.”
Aside from the championship experience, the reason the Warriors aren’t panicking is because their fixes heading into Game 5 on Wednesday night at Oracle Arena are relatively simple. During Games 3 and 4, the Warriors were outrebounded 98-72 by the Rockets.
“We didn’t match their physicality until about the last four minutes of the game,” Green said. “And it’s been that way for about the last 96 minutes of this series. … We go into a fight thinking it’s a fair fight. And it’s not. They’re doing whatever it takes to win. And not that they’re doing anything dirty or nothing like that, but they’re doing whatever it takes to win and we’re just rolling in like, ‘Oh yeah, we’ll box.’ And they’re slapping us.
“So we got to just change our mindset and I think if we change our mindset then we’ll be just fine, but we haven’t these last two games. The first two games I think it was the complete opposite. I think we were taking it to them and they weren’t really responding as far as the physicality went. And so that’s the difference in this series. That’s why it’s 2-2.”
Another reason why the Rockets were able to tie up the series on Monday night is due to the fact that the Warriors shot just 8-for-33 from beyond the arc. Warriors All-Star swingman Klay Thompson finished just 11-for-31 in Games 3 and 4 combined, shooting just 3-for-12 from beyond the arc. Thompson’s teammates and coaches are convinced that Thompson will bounce back in Game 5. So is he.
“I’ll play much better on Wednesday,” Thompson said.
The good news for the Warriors is that after his own series-long slump, star guard Stephen Curry finished with 30 points and was 12-for-25 from the field. As is the case with Thompson, nobody inside the Warriors doubted that Curry would eventually find his groove again.
“The last 48 hours has been pretty funny,” Curry said. “Hearing all the noise and chatter about how I’ve been playing this series. I take it all in stride and understand what I’m capable of. And doing it within the context of how we play as a team, I can play even better. So I’m just trying to stay within my own zone, in terms of what I expect from myself on the floor and leaving it all out there and living with the results because I know how prepared I am every night.”
While the Warriors say they’re feeling no pressure heading into Wednesday’s game, the reality is that if they lose Game 5 they face the possibility that it could be the final game played inside Oracle Arena. The Warriors move to Chase Center in San Francisco in September.
For the time being, the group is trying to focus on what it can control — despite the losses in Houston, they seem to be enjoying the fact that they get to play against an opponent that has earned their respect over the years on basketball’s postseason stage.
“This is what it’s about,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “This is the NBA playoffs, the best teams in the league. We’re playing a great team and we know what the game plan is and we know how good they are. So it’s just about competition, that’s it.”