Warriors ‘Westbrook’ treatment for Ja Morant

Ja Morant is a phenomenal playmaker, and stopping him is no picnic. Golden State, however, decided to use a very particular tactic against him in Game 1. Clearly, it is the same that had reserved for Russell Westbrook in the past.

The conference semi-finals start badly for the Grizzlies, who lost a very short head in the first game against the Warriors (117-116). more experienced, Stephen Curry & co. have done what is necessary in the money time to get ahead in the series. The Chef has also allowed himself a particularly salty trash-talking session against Ja Moranton whom he was on a defensive mission for part of the evening.

The end result is all the more frustrating for him as the MIP 2022 gave it their all on the court, ending the game with no less than 34 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists. The problem is that if he was able to make an attacking card, he still had trouble making his production. In total, the former Murray State took no less than 31 shots throughout the match, for only 14 successes. Also noteworthy is his unusual number of three-point shots attempted, with 11 tries from behind the arc.

Ja Morant forced to shoot by Warriors

As said above, it is rare to see the n°12 take so many shots away from the basket, he who rather excels in the drive thanks to his extraordinary physical qualities. However, this is exactly what the Dubs wanted to accomplish, according to a survey conducted by The Athletic. The Californians regularly blocked the paint to force him to take jump shots, with less success. A strategy they have already applied in the past:

It’s reminiscent of the defensive strategy the Warriors deployed against Russell Westbrook in the 2016 playoffs. Westbrook was a freight train in transition, an explosive finisher at the edge of the basket and had a lot of touch when it came to closing. If you pressured him, he passed. But if you backed up, you had more room to cut his drive and you could lure him into a lower percentage shot.

Like the Brodie, Morant is virtually unstoppable in 1-vs-1, being an athletic freak the likes of which have rarely been seen. On the other hand, like the 2017 MVP, he still shows weaknesses in shooting, although he is a notch above the Laker (34% from afar in 2021-22). Keeping him from scoring is tough, but you can control how he does. The players of the Bay do not hide that it is indeed what they want from him, Draymond Green being particularly vocal on the issue:

He is very agile, he can avoid his defender and put him in the wind. He led the league in points scored in the paint this season, as a point guard. When was the last time you saw a guard lead in the paint? Allen Iverson ? So you have to do everything to prevent it from penetrating and ending up under the circle.

The Warriors want to cut off Ja Morant from the circle, like they did with Russell Westbrook 6 years ago. It’s up to the Memphis boss to show now that he can find a solution, because otherwise the streak will be quickly over.

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