Barry: Warriors play like champs with title on the line 

Oakland — Winning any game during a playoff series is an accomplishment of note, but winning the clinching game of the series is quite another matter. When a team is leading in a series and knows it has multiple opportunities to close out the series, there can be a propensity to get a bit overconfident and to lack an urgency to complete the task.

Fortunately, the Warriors have been able to combat that tendency in one of the most important games in franchise history.

Without playing anywhere near their best basketball, the Dubs swept the New Orleans Pelicans winning Game 4, 109-98 on the road. Then, despite two terrible shooting games, they routinely dismissed the Memphis Grizzlies 4-2, crushing them in the home closeout game, 98-78. Last night, they dispatched the Houston Rockets 4-1, clinching the Western Conference title by winning the all-important closeout game 104-90 at home.

I have always felt that most basketball players have difficulty remaining focused for extended periods of time while playing. Playing hard is one thing, but playing focused is another. Most players believe the two go hand-in-hand, but this is not true. If a player is not focused, he will be a half-step late in reacting to what is transpiring on the court. This can often spell trouble, especially if it comes at a critical time during a game.

Each individual player must learn for himself how to play with focus. The members of the Warriors team seem to be able to stay focused long enough to win the majority of their games. Specifically, they have managed to do so in the close-out games during these playoffs with relative ease and efficiency.

After an abysmal offensive start to the game, shooting poorly and turning the ball over excessively, the Warriors used their outstanding defense to keep them in the game and again take care of business. They overpowered the Rockets with not only their focus, but their depth and intensity. Rebounding, especially on the offensive glass, was definitely a key component of the victory. The Warriors outrebounded the Rockets, 59-39, with 19 of them on the offensive glass.

After a stellar performance in Game 4, James Harden had a nightmare game that I know will haunt him for the rest of his career. I am sure the record for most turnovers in a playoff game is not exactly the record he wants as part of his legacy.

As is often the case, important games are not always decided by the star players. In this game, with the outcome still undecided and Stephen Curry not having a good shooting game, Harrison Barnes stepped up in the fourth quarter and scored 9 of his 24 points in two minutes to give the Warriors a 15 point lead with 7:10 remaining, a lead that never was seriously challenged. I am so happy for team ownership, the coaches, the office staff, the players and the fans. There is still some unfinished business, however. Warriors Nation is looking forward to seeing how the Dubs handle LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers next.

Rick Barry played eight seasons for the Warriors and was the captain of their only Bay Area NBA championship team. In 1987, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. His commentary will appear exclusively in The San Francisco Examiner throughout the playoffs.

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