If there is a bright spot in the Warriors’ playoff series loss to the San Antonio Spurs, it was the emergence of Harrison Barnes as a legitimate go-to guy.
With David Lee and Stephen Curry hobbled by injuries, the Warriors leaned on Barnes for offense throughout the series and he delivered until he left Game 6 with a headache.
“He certainly has elevated his game,” coach Mark Jackson said. “I think the sky is the limit for him.”
Barnes scored eight points in the first half before sustaining a cut above his right eye with 1:15 left in the second quarter. He received six stitches at halftime and returned to the game in the third quarter, scoring one point in the second half.
But Barnes eventually left the court because of headaches and the Warriors were eliminated without him.
The rookie forward showed his stuff on the big stage before sustaining the injury, though. With 26 points in Game 4 and 25 points in Game 5, Barnes became the first Warriors rookie since Tom Meschery in 1962 to post consecutive games of 25-plus points in the postseason. He is also the only player younger than the age of 21 in NBA history to achieve the feat.
Barnes missed only one game during the regular season, starting in every game he played in, averaging 9.2 points and 4.1 rebounds in 25.8 minutes while earning first-team All-Rookie honors. But his workload increased during the playoffs.
Jackson said the Spurs’ strategy was to steer the ball into Barnes’ hands.
“Part of their game plan was to force Harrison Barnes to beat them four games,” he said. “Harrison has done a wonderful job of attempting to do that.”
The Warriors’ coach said Barnes’ performance in the playoffs is a reflection of his work ethic.
“From Day 1, he’s put the time in,” he said. “He is a guy that will come later and watch film and break it down and ask questions.”