By: Yama Hazheer
If you expected Harrison Barnes to play a significant role in the biggest Warrior game in decades, go buy yourself a lottery ticket. Barnes gave his best effort all season and left Dub Nation astonished Monday night after his performance in Memphis.
The Black Falcon soared high and exceeded expectations in Game 4. His numbers weren’t eye-popping by any means as he chipped in 12 points and grabbed six rebounds. Like I said, his numbers weren’t extraordinary but it was his energy and poise to start the game was impressive.
Stephen Curry started the game shaky until he hit his first jumper with three and a half minutes left in the first period. Klay Thompson struggled to find his shot early as well, going 1-3 in the first quarter.
Draymond Green and Barnes set the tone on offense and defense with their bursts of energy and passion. They dove for loose balls and hustled to make quick switches defensively. They demonstrated what playoff basketball is all about.
You can expect that kind of effort from the heartbeat of the team, but you can’t say the same about the former North Carolina Tar-Heel. Barnes had a quiet season which was disappointing not only for the Warriors, but for himself as well.
Playoff Barnes has shown up against the Grizzlies tough defense. He shot 4-4 in Game 1, 4-8 in Game 2, and 7-10 in Game 3. While Thompson and Curry are being defended as tight as you can imagine, Barnes has taken advantage.
It’s especially impressive considering Barnes averaged only 5.3 points against the Grizzlies in three contests during the regular season. He struggled heavily, but he’s found a groove in the postseason, a place where he has become prominent for doing particularly well.
He’s only made one three-pointer within the past four games, but he has attacked the basket, keeping the Memphis big men honest in the paint. It’s helped create open opportunities on the perimeter for Thompson, Green, and Curry.
Barnes also played power forward on numerous occasions this season. He likes the challenge. With his athleticism, he can do a fair job on some of the other fours in the league. Steve Kerr used Barnes on Zach Randolph in Game 4 to try and slow him down. It worked; Randolph only scored 12 points. In his previous two, he scored 22 and 20 respectively.
The 22-year old had a mediocre regular season, an average first round, but has shown up when the Warriors have needed him most. He is the most athletic player on the team and one of the few that can get to the rim with ease, especially off the baseline.
He isn’t the best ball handler and struggles to create his own shot at times, but Barnes continues to show flashes of potential. He only shot 6-14 in Game 4, but was aggressive and challenged the Grizzlies defense. No other player has been able to consistently do that in this series.
Barnes looks like the least intimidating guy in the starting line-up and the last person you would expect to excel in The Grindhouse. He’s looked fearless attacking the basket and has been one of the best players between the two teams in the first four games.
Playoff Barnes first hit the scene in 2013. He disappeared in 2014. He hopes to succeed again now in 2015. He is on pace to do so, which could result in a long postseason for the Warriors.