Warriors must double-team Griffin to slow him down

Warriors must double-team Griffin to slow him down
April 23, 2014, 8:00 pm
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The biggest thing that I've said from the start is I need to do a better job of not letting him get those easy buckets in transition and off the glass and out of the pick-and-roll.
David Lee

Programming note: Coverage of Warriors-Clippers Game 3 starts Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area with Warriors Pregame Live. Bookmark this page for comprehensive coverage of the Western Conference Quarterfinals series.

OAKLAND – Mark Jackson did not divulge the Warriors' plans to defend Blake Griffin in Thursday night's Game 3. The coach did not even concede to double-teaming the Clippers' imposing power forward.

And when a question implied that the Warriors would double-team Griffin, Jackson on Wednesday was quick to clarify.

"We'll be fine," Jackson said. "I didn't say anything about double-teaming him."

Uh, the Warriors are going to double-team Griffin.

They won't do it every play. They won't do it every other play. But there are going to be times when Griffin finds himself between at least two Warriors.

"We'll give him different looks," Jackson said.

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Well, yes, because it's the only chance the Warriors have against the man sure to receive numerous third- and fourth-place votes for MVP. The job of guarding Griffin simply is too big for Warriors power forward David Lee.

"The biggest thing that I've said from the start is I need to do a better job of not letting him get those easy buckets in transition and off the glass and out of the pick-and-roll," Lee said. "I did a pretty good job of that Game 1 and in Game 2 he a lot those kinds of buckets. And for that reason it made him more comfortable and gave him more confidence."


Lee's willingness to engage Griffin, however, far exceeds his ability to contain him. There was a time when Griffin would be stymied when facing the basket from more than a few feet. He has made dramatic improvement and now is a threat to hit the midrange jumper.

That Griffin fouled out of Game 1 obscures how effective he has been in both games. He has scored 51 points in 49 minutes, making 19 of 30 shots.

Though Griffin has hurt the Warriors inside and outside, they would prefer to keep him on the outside – anywhere but in the paint.

"That's everybody's strategy in the NBA," forward Draymond Green, the alternate defensive plan for Griffin. "You've got to live with him taking jump shots because he's so dominant in the paint. If he knocks 'em down, then he knocks 'em down.

"We think we have a better chance of beating them in a seven-game series with Blake shooting jump shots, rather than Blake at the rim getting dunks and layups."

Griffin is the Warriors' single greatest defensive challenge. Point guard Chris Paul is terrific. Sixth man Jamal Crawford can light it up, as can shooting guard J.J. Redick.

But slowing the Los Angeles offense means, above all, containing Griffin, even if it at times means dedicating multiple defenders.

And for the Warriors, that may be the only way, no matter what Jackson says or doesn't say.

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