Warriors need to place urgent 'Good Jordan' Poole call for Game 4 vs. Lakers
'Good Jordan' has skills to change Dubs-Lakers series in Game 4 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
LOS ANGELES – It was six days ago that Jordan Poole messaged his Warriors teammates, the Los Angeles Lakers and the anxious folks of Dub Nation. After a mostly forgettable first round of the NBA playoffs, he was ready to ball.
Poole’s Game 1 performance last Tuesday at Chase Center was perhaps the most encouraging sight the Warriors have seen through the first three games of these Western Conference semifinals. He scored 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field, including 6 of 11 from deep. He added six assists, with zero turnovers, finishing a team-best plus-7 in plus/minus rating.
No one on the team performed better, even though Poole’s miss from 27 feet with 9.7 seconds left generated considerable – and reasonable – criticism.
The Warriors lost the game, but they were adding Good Jordan. Or so they hoped. That’s a Game 1 trade they’d accept 10 times out of 10 – if it means he’d stick around for the rest of the series.
He has not. Bad Jordan returned for Games 2 and 3, and the Warriors find themselves trailing 2-1 in the best-of-seven series as they approach Game 4 on Monday night at Crypto.com Arena.
It’s critical, as Kevon Looney indicated Sunday when asked the proverbial “must win” question.”
“Definitely,” he said. “You never want to go down 3-1, so it’s going to be a back game for us. Our backs are against the wall.”
If Bad Jordan shows up again, Golden State will have a lot to overcome for any chance of winning. Immense weight is added to the burden of the other primary scorers, namely Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins. They can succeed, of course, but the path is more treacherous.
But if Good Jordan shows up, the pendulum swings dramatically in favor of the Warriors. Because that dude is a legitimate game-changer.
Poole’s teammates have been consistent in expressing faith that his best will reappear during this series. Game 4 would be particularly timely.
“Jordan is Jordan – he’s been that all year long,” Donte DiVincenzo told reporters Monday after the team’s morning shootaround at UCLA. “When you have somebody like Klay to look up to, Steph to look up to. Bad game or good game doesn’t matter. He’ll come out and be him the next game, and that’s what we need him to be. We can’t ask him to be anything other than what he is because what he is has gotten us this far. And it helped to win a championship last year.
“I know his confidence level is high and all our confidence level in him is high, so he’ll be just fine.”
Poole’s offense and decision-making were models of wild inconsistency throughout the regular season. Some of the reasons are speculative, others evident. The number of Good Jordan games were almost equal to those of Bad Jordan.
But coach Steve Kerr keeps turning to Poole – eliciting groans from a portion of the fan base – in hopes of getting the best of him. It’s that important. It’s needed. And they’ve seen it before.
“I have great faith in Jordan,” Kerr said Sunday. “He’s had good playoff games for us this year. He obviously had a great run last year. He knows, and we know, that he can do it.”
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Through 10 postseason games, Poole’s offensive efficiency has been miserable, 38 of 107 (35.5 percent) from the field, including 15 of 52 (28.8 percent) from distance and 25 of 33 (75.8 percent) from the free-throw line – all well below his norm.
There is, however, a significant area of improvement. Poole has 36 assists and 12 turnovers, a 3-to-1 ratio appreciably better than the 1.5-to-1 ratio he posted during the regular season.
As Kerr and his staff consider adjustments for Game 4, one might be inserting Poole into the starting lineup. He has been more reliable with the ball, forces defenses to react and, despite his low 3-point percentage, can provide much-needed spacing.
If Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell can give the Warriors the business in Game 3, with 21 points after only 10 in Game 2, Poole has the goods to respond in kind in Game 4.
If Good Jordan shows up, gather all necessary ingredients and seasonings. It’s time to cook.
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