The Harrison Barnes Mismatch
The Golden State Warriors were victorious in Game 4 at Oracle Arena and tied up their series with the San Antonio Spurs at two games apiece. Harrison Barnes was one of the biggest contributors for Mark Jackson, amassing double figures in points and rebounds.
Barnes was aggressive throughout the contest, but more specifically he relished his opportunities against Tony Parker. The Dubs repeatedly ran pick-and-rolls involving Barnes and whomever the Frenchman was defending.
The Spurs opted to switch on the play, which resulted in Parker defending the former Tar Heel. Barnes posted him up on multiple occasions and overpowered him in some instances for scores.
The Warriors’ forward used the matchup to his advantage, producing 26 points.
San Antonio stayed home on shooters and essentially decided to live with whatever Barnes could produce. For all his length and athleticism, the North Carolina product isn’t quite the beast Carmelo Anthony is on the block though.
Consequently, the Spurs felt comfortable with Parker guarding him. The Spurs’ leading scorer defended with great discipline and never committed any cheap fouls. The end result was Barnes shooting 9-for-26 from the field.
San Antonio will take those shooting figures every single time. It means Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry aren’t getting field goal attempts.
Part of the reason Barnes shot the ball so poorly was his predictability. Every time he goes to the block against Parker, he turns towards the middle of the floor with the help awaiting him and putting a hand in his face.
Have a look at his shooting chart for Game 4 courtesy of NBA.com/stats:
In actuality, this isn’t anything new. Have a look at Barnes shooting chart for the entire Western Conference semifinals against the Spurs:
There are very few shots taken on the baseline.
This is problematic on one very specific front: the Spurs always know what’s coming and can defend it.
Klay Thompson on the other hand loves going to his left shoulder in the post when matched up against a smaller defender. In his case, he freezes the defender with the threat of his jumper and drives to the basket. When he is afforded space by the defense, he simply pulls up for the baseline jumper.
Barnes could surely use this to his advantage. It’s not so much that he must absolutely go baseline, but the threat of doing as such gives him more options and truly puts Parker on an island with little defensive option.
The best guy to emulate on this front is Kobe Bryant. He does a good job of driving baseline a handful of times merely to put the defense on notice he can and will go that route.
And from there he will fake the baseline drop step/spin move and turn towards the middle of the floor in post-up situations. Barnes obviously isn’t as seasoned as Bryant and thus won’t be able to execute this with the same level of sophistication.
However, the goal here is simply forcing the defense into believing Barnes has multiple options at his disposal.
This should provide the rookie a better variety of shots, free him loose for open jumpers as well as earn him trips to the free throw line.
A better Barnes means a better Warriors team.
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