3 key reactions from Warriors’ ugly, blowout loss to Anthony Davis, Lakers in Game 3

The Golden State Warriors’ all-encompassing road struggles returned Saturday in a 127-97 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Here are three reactions from the defending champions’ ugly performance in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

Anthony Davis out-duels Draymond Green

The biggest harbinger of this vexing second-round series through its first three games? Free throw attempts, no surprise considering the Warriors and Lakers’ drastically disparate finishes in that category during the regular season—not to mention the singular impact of Anthony Davis at his best.

Los Angeles went 28-of-37 from the line on Saturday, three more makes and eight more tries than its hot-button totals from Game 1. The Dubs’ 17 freebies were their most thus far against the Lakers, but that’s a bit misleading. Six of their free throw attempts came after Steve Kerr waved the white flag with 9:11 on the fourth-quarter clock, even earlier than Darvin Ham did up at Chase Center in Game 2.

Davis went 11-of-12 at the line, nine more attempts than anyone wearing blue–a dynamic that hints at his two-way dominance.

Draymond Green picked up his fifth foul midway through third quarter while trying to slide in front of Davis off the dribble. His fourth personal and a lost challenge came on a similar play less than three minutes earlier. The Lakers won a second-quarter coach’s challenge after Draymond initially drew a charge on Davis in a nail isolation.

These are all pretty clear defensive fouls.

Davis wasn’t carving up Draymond one-on-one or even on the roll all night, but he certainly looked much more comfortable—and explosive—attacking perhaps basketball’s best defender than he did 48 hours earlier.

Draymond has won the Davis matchup throughout their careers. That script flipped on Saturday, and it’s among the biggest reasons Golden State was once again crushed by the Lakers at the line.

Warriors lose adjustment game

But Davis loomed larger to Game 3 on the other end, thriving off a matchup adjustment just like Draymond and the Dubs on Thursday. Ham toggled Los Angeles’ defensive assignments, keeping Davis on JaMychal Green and Kevon Looney. Austin Reaves started on Stephen Curry and Jarred Vanderbilt opened on Draymond, with the Lakers regularly switching across four positions.

Golden State found its most success on offense early, raining jumpers with Davis in a deep drop. Once he ventured to the perimeter while defending ball screens and dribble hand-offs after the first quarter, though, the game was changed for good.

Davis and the Lakers didn’t care much about Green, starting again, taking open threes. Limiting Draymond’s influence as a passer and screener was more of a driving force behind Ham’s changes. By far the biggest one? Making it easier for Davis to be a factor at the rim.

Davis finished with four blocks, spooking Golden State into more misses in the paint and numbers-advantage drives ending in passes—or worse, turnovers that ignited LeBron James and his teammates in transition.

The Warriors coughed up 19 turnovers, their second-most in the playoffs. Allowing 11 fast-break points is definitely survivable, but also wasn’t an accurate portrayal of how loose Los Angeles got in the open floor. The Lakers’ 19.0% transition frequency, per Cleaning the Glass, almost doubled up their low Game 2 share and was several points higher than their rate in the series-opener.

Playing at home always helps juice the fast-break attack, as did Ham’s decision to play three ball-handling guards for longer stretches, including Lonnie Walker IV. But Golden State’s turnovers and errant shots near the rim are what really upped the Lakers’ pace, another area in Game 3 littered with Davis’ fingerprints.

Don’t be surprised if Green has started his last game, by the way. He didn’t play poorly on Saturday, but if Green’s not knocking down triples he just doesn’t give the Warriors enough elsewhere on either end to garner more than a limited bench role.

Andrew Wiggins meets the challenge

One significant silver lining from the Dubs’ forgettable effort: Wiggins matching the palpable force and athletic pop brought by Davis and James. If only his road-weary teammates had the sense of combined fight and physical capacity to join him.

Wiggins’ third-quarter poster dunk over Davis—on The Brow’s second rim contest in a matter of blinks—is his most obvious highlight of Game 3.

ANDREW WIGGINS https://t.co/S8ovIx13mI pic.twitter.com/iu1gopjbFv

— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) May 7, 2023

He put that rare athleticism to use throughout Saturday’s action, though.

Wiggins drew a foul on Davis while battling him for position after a switch. He beat James in the air to high-point a pair caroms for back-tap offensive boards. This strong rake and take was one of Wiggins’ four makes from the restricted area on five tries.

After last playing before the All-Star break, Wiggins has already exceeded reasonable expectations in the postseason. But to climb from another 2-1 hole and maintain the chance to repeat as champions, the Warriors will need a lot more of what Wiggins gave them in an otherwise completely forgettable Game 3.

The post 3 key reactions from Warriors’ ugly, blowout loss to Anthony Davis, Lakers in Game 3 appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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