As George Karl was forced to make adjustments to counteract Stephen Curry and the Warriors new small ball lineup in the series, two main thoughts started to pop up. First let Curry get his points and limit his teammates and second play a big lineup, like Denver has done all season long with two traditional bigs instead of Wilson Chandler at the power forward spot.
Unfortunately for the Nuggets, despite a victory in Game 5, doing those things may not be possible together. One of the important parts of the Nuggets playing with two bigs is Kenneth Faried playing Harrison Barnes on the defensive end. But Faried has struggled a bit in that role as his unfamiliarity of defensive rotations has allowed Barnes to get a lot of open shot attempts, some he has knocked down and some he hasn’t. The following are four examples of the problems Faried has had, three makes and a miss, from Game 5 when Barnes had 23 points.
Barnes 1st 3:
As you can see on Barnes first made three he caught the ball with Faried way too far away. There is just no way for Faried to get to Barnes in time to make any difference on his shot. Get used to this type of distance, it happens a lot.
Barnes 2nd 3:
This picture comes from before Barnes catches the ball. Before the picture Faried was randomly wandering the lane before jumping over to double Klay Thompson. The problem? As you can see by the arrow Harrison Barnes is nowhere close to Faried. And as the next picture will show that is a pretty big problem.
Barnes caught it and no Nugget was close enough to make a difference. And he drilled it.
Barnes 5th 3:
Another pre-catch photo for this one. Faried is too far into the lane on this play. With most defensive systems it is Lawson’s responsibly to drop down and bump Bogut, slowing him down enough that a big can recover. After all, if Bogut catches on the move where Faried is now is too deep into the lane to help anyway. Faried has his head turned to Barnes, a cardinal sin of defense, and the result after a deflection is the following.
There is the catch. Again no Nugget that close as Barnes enters into his shot. Again he drilled it.
The problems are not just on the makes though. Barnes has missed some open looks, keeping the numbers lower than they could be, which should scare Denver. An example of a Barnes miss that came off a perfectly clean look.
Faried lost Barnes in transition and was dropping too far in the lane to be able to recover once the pass was caught. Barnes missed but it was a wide open miss.
The Nuggets biggest problem is that the matchup is not one they can really exploit because Faried does not possess a post-up game and he has not been all that effective on the offensive glass where he is averaging just two offensive rebounds a game. If the Nuggets are essentially willing to punt on the Curry matchup in order to limit the rest of the Warriors they cannot afford to lose individual matchups. And if Faried continues to be lost defending Barnes they have the potential to not just lose it, but get blown out in it. If Barnes goes for 20 plus points again in Oracle Arena the Nuggets may be in a lot of trouble when the fourth quarter rolls around.
The pictures are from video on the NBA media site. Please follow me on Twitter.