Why Are the Warriors So Good in the 3rd Quarter? Consider Halftime

U.S.

The Golden State Warriors usually go on backbreaking scoring runs in the third quarters of games that erase any deficit in the score, along with the competitive will of their opponents. Over the course of just this postseason – a total of 17 games – the Warriors have outscored their opponents by a remarkable 130 points.

It’s a phenomenon that has left other teams, and even the Warriors’ themselves scratching their heads. “I honestly have no idea,” says star guard Stephen Curry on the Warriors’ third quarter performances.

A closer look at their halftime rituals, as conducted by The New York Times, may offer some clues.

What transpires in the 15 minutes between the end of the second quarter and the start of the third is a lightning-fast, open-forum review session that allows all team personnel – players as well as coaches – to offer feedback, analyze weaknesses and identify strengths in their first-half performance.

The Warriors actually begin that analysis as soon as the game begins. Throughout the first half, assistant coaches yell “Clip that!” or “Put that on edit!” after a particular play is run that the team will want to review during the halftime break.

They are yelling to Willie Green, an assistant coach and former NBA player of 11 years. Green is in charge of noting the time and score of the play so that it can be identified. That list is run back to the locker room where the compilation of 10-15 clips are put together on a computer by James Laughlin, the team’s video coordinator.

Once the first half ends the coaches get together, alone, for a rapid-fire review session. The team’s head coach, 7-time NBA Champion Steve Kerr, asks for, and listens to, feedback from his staff. He also uses that time to vent.

“He’s got a fiery side to him,” assistant coach Bruce Fraser told The New York Times. “He’ll be screaming and yelling in the coaches’ room for 30 seconds.”

The time allows Kerr to remain calm when addressing his players.

Kerr then walks into the locker room with roughly 11 minutes left in the halftime break and addresses the players. He reviews the first half and offers an assessment of the team’s performance – the positive and the negative.

He then opens the floor up to other personnel. He purposely designates time for others to speak. Associate head coach, Mike Brown, senior assistant coaches, Ron Adams and Jarron Collins, weigh in. Kerr ends the halftime session by asking for advice from the players – especially in the playoffs.

“Do you have anything for us?” he asks. “Do you see anything?”

“He is the authority based on title,” Fraser says about Kerr, “but our culture is by community. He’s one of them. He doesn’t look at himself as a figure that they have to defer to.”

“It’s open for us, from 1 to 15 — anybody can say something. That’s how this team is built: If you see something, please say something,” says Zaza Pachulia, the team’s veteran center.

The players often have advice for the coaching staff, helping them identify nuances in the other team’s attack. The Warriors run what’s known as a read-based offense: an offense that allows players to exploit soft spots in opponents’ defenses. The halftime session allows them to identify, game-plan for, those weaknesses.

“After you play a half, you can see what teams are trying to do,” Fraser said.

With 6 minutes remaining in the break, the Warriors are back out on the floor taking warmup shots, preparing to put their halftime adjustments into practice, and the game out of reach.

Photo by nick_la via Flickr

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