Shaq v. Turiaf’s knee?
Lebron v. D-league call-up Cartier Martin?
Hickson and Varejao v. Vlad-Rad?
Hmmm. On paper, this game looks like a train wreck in the making. But I’m not ready to write it off before it happens. There are several positives for the Warriors in this game. Beginning with Don Nelson. Nellie has found some great game plans against teams like Phoenix and Sacramento lately, and I have a feeling we’ll see some more creativity out of him in this game. He’ll be matched against Mike Brown, in my humble opinion one of the worst coaches in the NBA. His GM seems to share that opinion, having forced an offensive coordinator down his throat in the off-season.
In no particular order, here are some things I think we might see from Nellie in this game:
Throw the maiden Chris Hunter into the Shaq volcano to start the game. Wear the big fella down a bit on the road back-to-back. Buy some time for a Turiaf/Biedrins big lineup in the second half.
Bring Hunter back to hack-a-Shaq whenever Shaq’s in the game at the end of quarters.
Run, run, run. Last year, before he got injured, Biedrins ran Shaq off the court in a win against the Suns. Ilgauskas is even slower than Shaq. Is Beans in good enough shape for this?
Pick and roll Shaq and Ilgauskas to death. They cannot cover it, period. Monta should have a huge game. Parker and West are defenders, but I just don’t think Shaq and Ilgauskas can keep him from attacking the rim.
Nellie will want Stephen Curry to be aggressive. He will be guarded by Mo Williams, not a great defender. The Third Musketeer needs to let it rip.
Cartier Martin. Not since Jackson got traded and Azubuike went down have the Warriors had the kind of wing player Don Nelson likes. A BIG, PHYSICAL DEFENDER. Shaking your head in amusement? Then consider this list: Richmond, Sprewell, Elie, Askew, Finley, Bell, Griffin, Buckner, Howard, Barnes, Jackson, Azubuike. See any players who don’t fit that mold? You can now add Cartier Martin to that list. I predict Nellie will find time for him, to the tune of 20+ minutes per game. Starting tonight. The player whose playing time will be most affected? Anthony Morrow.
The wild-card for the Warriors will be Maggette. I expect the Cavs to guard him with Lebron, which could be a nightmare for him. He has struggled badly against the more athletic power forwards in the league, and there is no one who combines strength and athleticism like Lebron. How will Maggette react? Will he allow the game to come to him, or will he try to force his offense?
The Warriors are +5.5 home dogs against the Cavs. Hmmm. With the Cavs on a road back-to-back, I would not scoff at anyone who took the Warriors and the points. Me, I’m going to be busy praying to Buddha for Turiaf’s knee.