Brick After Brick: Harrison Barnes' Misses Are Costing The Warriors A Chance To Repeat

Do you remember a time when Harrison Barnes was a key cog in the Golden State Warriors success in the first four games of the NBA Finals?

As recently as last Friday, Barnes, was the silent, but steady force that kept defenses honest while the Steph Curry and Klay Thompson rained threes from all distances in Northeast Ohio. As seen in Game 4 of the Finals, Barnes impact as the fourth-wheel gave many reason why gurus predicted the Warriors to win back-to-back titles after winning a historic 73 regular season games.

At the beginning of this series, Barnes was scoring, rebounding, hitting open shots, playing inspired defense and making a case that he is morphing into a max contract player despite the criticism surrounding that debate. For example, In Games 3 and 4, he made 12 out of 22 shots which is a far cry from what is going on now.

If you’ve been paying attention for the past few games, Barnes has come crashing back down to earth, low-lighted by his suspect Game 5 and Game 6 performances, in which the Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers shifting the momentum to Cleveland. In those games, Barnes shot 2/22 from the field bottoming out to an appalling .090 percent. His shooting has been anemic as well as his focus on the defensive end. I mean—the AARP emissary himself, Richard Jefferson has taken Barnes off the dribble countless times during a few games. The recent play of Barnes has been alarming, and untimely bad for the Warriors.

Jay-Z said it best in his song titled A Week Ago: "Funny what seven days can change." The six words cited by Shawn Carter speak volumes when talking about the play of the four-year player out of North Carolina. Last Friday, it appeared that the NBA Finals was a step closer to being over.

In Game 4, the Golden State Warriors waltzed into Cleveland and defeated the Cavs giving them the commanding 3-1 lead in the series. Cleveland appeared defeated, and the Warriors had plans on serenading Oracle Arena with bottles of affluent champagne. Conversations about LeBron James’ shortcomings in big games and the all-time legacy of Curry were budding as it seemed evident that the Warriors were going to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to the East Bay. While the suspension of Draymond Green was a low blow (pun intended), the brick-laying spectacle featuring Barnes has been just as glaring, if not more significant.

While all eyes point to the Curry family, Green, and Thompson for their recent struggles—Barnes should not be let off the hook. He may not garner the accolades that the aforementioned players acquire, but his impact is vital for his team, and with his squandering play, it’s showing what it means to his team when he plays in the manner that he has. Over the years, championship teams have many under the radar players that play the role of the x-factor.

We’ve seen it with players such as Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Shane Battier, Boris Diaw, and as recent as last year with the Bill Russell Finals MVP winner Andre Iguodala. Despite the NBA being a one-on-one manifestation, without a total team effort, it’s hard to win when it matters most. Over the past two games, the Splash Brothers have shot the ball pretty well, Klay in Game 5, and Steph in Game 6, but what is missing is their fourth-wheel, who typically contributes just what his team needs.

The pressure-cooker that is the NBA Finals is becoming Barnes demise, but he has a chance to break his shooting spell in Game 7. Failing under the huge microscope in the Finals can have an everlasting effect one one’s career. Former NBA Finals calamities Nick Anderson and John Starks can attest to that. As expected, Golden State’s three all-stars will be ready to go for their final game of the season, but Barnes has to be ready for them to defeat Cleveland. If he isn’t, the Warriors will miss out on history, and he’ll also lose out on the big bucks during free agency.
For someone who turned down a $64 million dollar contract, Barnes can’t get by with the masonry work he is displaying. The once steady swingman who was on the brink of helping his team win a second title has played petrified while lacking confidence coupled with a habit of inconsistency. Simply put, Barnes is not playing like the max player that he purported himself to be.

Yes, LeBron has reverted to 'Video Game James,' with back-to-back 41-point games, but if Barnes hits some of his open shots, the championship parade with all of Dub Nation would have happened by now. With that said, he'll have to hit open shots for the Warriors to win.

As Game 7 nears, Warriors fans have to be worried as the game may fall on the shooting prowess of the incumbent, but talented forward that's unintentionally building homes from the Bay to the Land.

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