Jordan Poole predicts ‘offensive explosion’ vs. Celtics in NBA Finals originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston:
SAN FRANCISCO – The Warriors through four games in the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics are all tied up at two wins each. They hold home-court advantage with Monday night’s Game 5 being back at Chase Center, putting them in the driver’s seat of this seven-game series. But outside of the Steph Curry Show, the Warriors are still searching for answers.
Jordan Poole believes that’s about to change.
“Personally, yes,” Poole said Sunday when asked if he believes the Warriors can reach another level offensively against the Celtics. “I think last game we gave up a pretty nice amount of uncontested looks that we normally don’t. But being able to kind of catch our rhythm, and got a couple games under our belt this series.
“I definitely feel like we have like an offensive explosion coming, for sure.”
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In the regular season, the Warriors averaged 111.0 points per game, which was good for 15th in the NBA. They upped that to 118 points per game to open the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets and were back down to their regular-season average in the second round when they averaged 111.0 points vs. the Memphis Grizzlies. During the Western Conference Finals, Golden State then upped the ante and averaged 115.2 points in their five-game series with the Dallas Mavericks.
They averaged 114.5 points against their Western Conference foes this postseason. That offense hasn’t shown up so far in the Finals while being stagnated by Boston’s heralded defense.
The Warriors have scored 107 points in both of their wins. They’re averaging only 105.5 points. The three teams who averaged fewer points per game than that clip in the regular season were the Detroit Pistons (104.8), Orlando Magic (104.2) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (103.7).
By regular-season standings, that group makes up three of the worst four teams in the league.
“A lot of good ones and some bad ones,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Monday when asked about the quality of shots the Warriors are getting in the Finals. “That’s kind of what we spend time on when we go through our offensive stuff and our adjustments. We’re trying to create more good ones.
“But we had a lot of good looks the other night. I saw the stat – I can not remember what it was, but on our uncontested threes, we actually did not shoot the ball that well, We got a lot of them, and that was a good sign. There are some things we can do better, for sure, to try to create open looks. “
Kerr is correct in the fact that the Warriors did not shoot the ball well in their Game 4 win when it came to uncontested 3-pointers, and he can only hope his coaching staff can create even more good looks.
On Friday night at TD Garden, the Warriors shot 17.6 percent (3-for-17) on wide-open 3-pointers – considered to be having the closest defender at six feet or more. As a whole, they shot 28.6 percent (6-for-21) on wide-open shots. Through four games in the Finals, the Warriors are shooting 33.3 percent on wide-open 3-pointers and 37.3 overall from the field on wide-open shots.
Those averages were 42.1 percent on wide-open 3-pointers in 16 Western Conference playoff games, and 43.2 percent on wide-open shots overall from the field. Now, this is the time to make it clear the Nuggets, Grizzlies and Mavericks do not match up with the Celtics’ defense. Boston allowed the fewest points per game (104.5) in the regular season, and the Celtics’ 106.9 defensive rating was tied with the Warriors for the best in the league.
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There are reasons for optimism in believing the Warriors can reach another level offensively, and last game was a good indication of why. While Steph Curry scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to make it 43 on the night, eight of Klay Thompson’s 18 points came in the final period. He went 3-for-4 from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter, after going 4-for-13 overall and 2-for-7 from deep through the first three quarters.
Klay in the last two games has averaged 21.2 points on a 41.2 field goal percentage and 39.1 3-point percentage. He averaged 13.0 points in the first two games while shooting 30.3 percent from the field and 26.7 percent from deep.
Poole’s performance should breed confidence, too. Nearly all of his 14 points had significant timing. His first two points gave the Warriors the lead with 8.4 seconds left in the first quarter. He then hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open the second quarter on a 6-0 run with Curry on the bench, and his first triple also put the Warriors back ahead on the scoreboard. Each of his four points in the fourth quarter tied the game.
Curry now has scored 137 points in four games. The Warriors’ next-highest scorers are Thompson with 69 points and Andrew Wiggins with 66. Those two have combined to score 135 points. Poole has only scored 50.
Over the final five minutes of Game 4, the Warriors outscored the Celtics 15-3. They won the fourth quarter for the first time, and as Poole said, the rhythm of the offense was seen and felt, and now the comfort could be there with the Warriors back on their home court.
The Celtics are 7-0 in the playoffs after a loss and have already responded in the Finals to a loss with a win the next game. The last time they lost two straight games was Jan. 19 and 21.
To end that streak and place themselves one win from being crowned champions, the Warriors will need their offensive explosion to show up in San Francisco. Curry will throw his invisible cape back on, but he needs help. Outside of Steph, Poole and Thompson are the two others who can ignite the fire required, and it looks like they’re ready to do so in Game 5.