Whew! Can’t we just take a couple of days off, and let that last win soak in for a while? Can’t we just lay back and bathe in our impressions of an inspired team playing beautiful Don Nelson run and gun basketball? Nope. Tonight the Warriors get the lovely treat of playing in San Antonio on a back-to-back. That’s the brutal reality of the NBA.
The good news for this game is that I expect the Warriors to play 9 players rather than 6. Chris Hunter will be pressed into service. Corey Maggette will make a miraculous recovery from his sore hammy. And CJ Watson is expected to be available after recovering from the swine flu. I’m not exactly hearing the sound of bugles as the cavalry reinforcements pour down the hill, but it’s still welcome help.
The game plan against the Spurs, obviously, will be to run, run, run. The old legs of the Spurs have appeared even more vulnerable than usual against running teams this year. But will the Warriors have anything left in the tank after last night’s extraordinary effort?
The Warriors will be helped by the injury absence of Manu Ginobili. But George Hill is playing very well in his place. It was Hill who had primary responsibility for guarding Brandon Jennings in the Spurs’ last game, and he did a heck of a job.
Which brings us to the key matchup of the game. Obviously, as Monta Ellis goes, so go the Warriors. So all eyes will be on him going up against Hill. Also look for the Spurs to apply zone principles against Monta to keep him from driving the lane. Against Jennings, the Spurs actually used three players to defend the high pick and roll. The two guarding the pick and roll, and a third defender flashing out to keep him bottled up. Jennings was unable to punish this defense with the pass. I expect Monta to face the same sort of defense. Will he be able to penetrate its seams with the pass? The Warriors have been unsuccessful this year in games in which Monta has been unable to drive. On played out legs, and facing a clever Spurs defense, Monta is going to have to find another way to lead the Warriors tonight.
The Warriors are +13.5 point dogs in this game. They are 4-0 ATS since the Jackson trade, the hottest team in the league ATS. The bookies are clearly behind the curve on the Warriors. On the other hand, how would you like to be one of Monta Ellis’ calves right about now? If you know how to handicap this game, you have my respect.
Breakfast Link: An absolutely shameful piece by Bruce Jenkins in today’s Chronicle. When was it that sportswriters actually became proud of losing their humanity? Like Ray Ratto, Jenkins has been simply mailing it in lately. The idea of thinking about who engineered the last two victories would never occur to him. And the idea of actually enjoying those wins in print would be blasphemy.