First Look: LA Lakers 105 Golden State Warriors 102

“You are doing the defense a favor when you post up Lee or Biedrins.” —  Mark Jackson

I couldn’t agree with Mark Jackson more.  We were told by the commentators to last night’s game that Keith Smart and his staff were raving about David Lee’s “surprising” abilities in the low post. (Surprising to whom?  Matt Steinmetz et al? They weren’t surprising to feltbot.)  Jackson went on to explain that despite Lee’s talent in the post, he is one of the greatest pick and roll players in the league, and that is how the Warriors should deploy him. I couldn’t agree more, as readers of this blog know.

And yet last night we were treated by Keith Smart to four quarters of watching the Warriors trying to post up Lee and Biedrins in the heart of the Lakers defense.  Why?  For well over three quarters, Smart ran literally no pick and rolls with Lee that were designed to get him a shot.  Instead Andris Biedrins was used almost exclusively to set the high picks, with Lee standing uselessly on the wings waiting for the ball that never came. Why?

It wasn’t until 2:06 of the 4th quarter that the Warriors ran pick and roll with Lee and Monta at the top of the key.  Monta drove the lane effortlessly and made a perfect over the shoulder dish to the wide-open, charging Lee for the layup. Take a good look at that dynamic play.  Was it even possible for David Lee to be more wide open, as the whole Laker team converged on Monta Ellis?  How many times did the Warriors have a play that wide open last night?  How many times in your life have you seen a play that wide open?

That play is unguardable. Compare it to the Warriors’ static post-up of Lee in no-man’s land at 7:08 of the 4th quarter.  Granted, I’m cherry-picking a bad result for purposes of illustration.  But ask yourself, which play is a better fit for the Warriors uniquely talented players, the dynamic pick and roll, or the static post up?  Which play is more likely to get a bucket?

And yet, once they found the Achilles heel of the Lakers’ defense, did the Warriors attempt to exploit it?  Did they return to the pick and roll with Monta and Lee with the game on the line?  They did not.  Not once.  Why?

I’m going to cut off my rant here.  There are several possible reasons why Smart didn’t use pick and roll last night.  To wit:  He wanted to use the game to work exclusively on things that the Warriors need work on; Stephen Curry, his chief pick and roll guard, was out; he doesn’t want to show his hand in the pre-season.

But if Keith Smart brings this completely ludicrous and completely inexplicable style of basketball into the regular season, we will know for a certainty that Joe Lacob is not just the GM of the Warriors, but also their coach.

Monta Ellis: I’ve already written about my expectations for Monta this season. He’s finally back to his playing weight of 185.  He is reconciled to his team and his role.  He has playing partners in David Lee and Stephen Curry that can get him wide open.  He has playing partners in David Lee and Stephen Curry that provide excellent targets for his vastly underrated passing ability.

This year, “Monta Ellis” and “Superstar” are once again going to be frequently heard in the same sentence.  Kobe Bryant’s number one favorite player to watch is back.

Reggie Williams: I have been stating that Reggie Williams is the Warriors’ backup point guard.  Others have been stating that he’s not a very good ball-handler, and that playing him at point-forward was simply another symptom of Crazy Nellie.  Last night, in the absence of Curry, the Warriors used Reggie almost exclusively at the point.  He played with intelligence and purpose, knowing exactly how the offense was supposed to be run.  Both his superb court vision and his rock-solid handle were on display, as his 8 assists against 2 To’s attest.  His decision-making on when to look for his own shot was near perfect, as his super-efficient 27 points on 8-14 and 9-9 from the line attest.  His forays into the lane were masterful.  He is a natural born scorer.

I think Reggie Williams is a remarkable player, a dominant scoring point guard/forward in the Don Nelson mold, and perhaps the chief reason why the Warriors let CJ Watson go.

What do you think?

David Lee: Rewind the tape to 8:44 of the third to see Lee throw a perfect bounce pass to a back-cutting Monta Ellis.

Then forward the tape to 7:40 of the third, and take another look at the play where Monta and Lee played a two-man game on the right wing, that resulted in a brilliant Lee no-look backhand bounce-pass that hit Ellis in stride for the layup.

David Lee is an incredible player.  His offensive talent is simply off the charts. Keith Smart, for god’s sake ditch the Lacob-mandated crap you’re running, get David Lee into the high post, and run pick and roll.

Just get him the damn ball.

Andris Biedrins: Biedrins was perfectly serviceable last night, playing a tough opponent in Pau Gasol.  Gasol was limited to 12 points on 3-9.  But I didn’t see the remarkable energy, athleticism and defensive intuition that I saw in him at his peak.  Conditioning?  Preseason?

He also made 2-4 free throws.  Both times he went to the line, his first free throw looked godawful, but the second was smoooooooth.

Vlad Rad: One thing that I think is clear at this point is that Vlad is going to be backing up Dorell Wright at the small forward.  Reggie Williams is desperately needed at the backup point guard position.  Rodney Carney is currently not a factor.  And Brandon Wright is execrable at the position, as last night showed conclusively.

Vlad actually did a credible job guarding Kobe Bryant last night, and I remember he also did a credible job guarding Bryant at the height of his powers in a game for Nellie last season.  Perhaps I was wrong about Vlad’s ability to guard threes. I’m still convinced, along with Nelson, that he is a far more effective player at the four.  But as currently constituted, the Warriors need him at the three.

Vlad of course being Vlad, he balanced his largely effective play last night (+8) with a series of enigmatic brain-farts in crunch time. He farted away this win.

Brandan Wright: We got a good look at Wright at the small forward last night. And he gave us a quintessential Brandan Wright performance. Wandering aimlessly around the court, with no instinct for where to go or what to do.  A split-second late on every close-out, on every rotation, on every rebound.  He was the Lakers’ go-to matchup.  And they lit him on fire.

He put up a couple of stats.  Pulled a few uncontested rebounds.  But there is only one stat concerning his performance in this game that matters: -23 in a game the Warriors lost by three.  If you can’t see what I’m talking about by looking at the game tape, and if you are unpersuaded by my opinion, and that of Don Nelson and Stephen Jackson and Rony Turiaf and even Keith Smart himself — if you still hold out hope that Brandan Wright is an NBA player — then just stare at that boxscore for awhile.

Something is missing.  Something in his head, and something in the middle of his chest.

And oh, by the way, he’ll never be a small forward.  Noted with amusement last night, this comment by the play-by-play guy: “Wright with the odd release at the free throw line.”  I’ve seen that free-throw close up, from courtside at the Vegas summer league.  It’s a knuckleball.

With Udoh and Amundsen out, the Warriors will need a good chunk of minutes from Brandon Wright, which should be worrisome, to put it mildly.  Hopefully, they find a way to carry Adrien on the roster.

Dan Gadzuric: I remember the time when Gadzuric was an athletic leaper, and ran the court like a deer.  Those days are apparently gone.  He was the slowest player changing ends last night.  And those hands of stone…

Ekpe Udoh, the Bay Area turns its lonely eyes to you.

Charlie Bell and Jeremy Lin:  Anyone see anything useful or good in their minutes?  I didn’t.  Lin is completely starstruck and overmatched. He reminds me of Coby Karl.  Could he use some time in the D-League?  That might allow the Warriors to carry Adrien.

And now, because its getting to be about that time, I will venture a few

PREDICTIONS:

  • Warriors in the playoffs?  Based on what I saw last night?  No way. But if Keith Smart comes to his senses?  Hmmm… still unlikely given the thinness of the Warriors’ bench, but not out of the question given the current state of the West.  I’ll get back to you on this, but I won’t have a serious opinion until I see Smart coach in the regular season.
  • Warriors over 30.5 wins at -130?  Cautiously, yes.  The bet has this going for it: if Keith Smart doesn’t beat this number with the talent on this roster he will be fired.  The bet has this going against it: Andris Biedrins as the lone center standing between the Warriors and oblivion.
  • Monta Ellis will be an All-Star.
  • Reggie Williams will be the Sixth Man of the Year.
  • Vlad Rad will get more minutes than Brandan Wright, despite explosive noises from Lauridsen’s blog.
  • Andris Biedrins will shoot 52% from the line.  No more, no less. (Give me odds.)
  • Lakers v. Heat in the finals
  • Gilbert Arenas and Reggie Williams will win two (2) (both) fantasy leagues for feltbot this year.

33 Responses to First Look: LA Lakers 105 Golden State Warriors 102

  1. I watched the game and can’t add a single thing to your astute and piercing analysis, Felty. Instead I will add this note from today’s Bruce Jenkins column in the Chronicle, for the benefit of the few Anthony Randolph lovers who might be left here:

    “All you ever need to know about ex-Warrior Anthony Randolph: The Knicks are already willing to give him up if it helps facilitate a trade for Carmelo Anthony. Randolph’s preseason has been a sad procession of turnovers, blown dunks and a general sense of being lost — exactly why Don Nelson couldn’t trust him. As Randolph fades out of the Knicks’ rotation, coach Mike D’Antoni admits, “He hasn’t done a whole lot. He’s just not that physically strong.”

    Someone please post this on the AL blog so the AR lovers can have a stinkfest. I won’t go there under any circumstances.

  2. Done! And thanks for the link :>

  3. After watching that sweet p&r at 2:06 of the 4th I thought, “Is that the first time they’ve run that? Why?!? How easy was that?

    Seems like this (or something like this – s’pose you want to save your best stuff for your own blog) would be good to post on GSOM. I know you have your critics there, but I’m sure many would see your logic. I don’t think we can make (not so)Smart the coach he should be (sigh) through fan opinion, but if fan noise can help run one of the great coaches of all time out of town, maybe it could be of some small help here. Maybe not. I also suspect Lacob’s influence here. It seems his dream is to turn the Warriors into the current Celtics – as opposed to the Celtics of the ’60s and ’70s. If, as you’ve pointed out could be the case, this turns out to be just preseason experimentation, I will be SO happy to be wrong!

    Keep emanating the piercing noises. They are of great help in keeping me from throwing a brick through my TV screen. At least until Lacob makes the team so dull that I lose interest.

    Great game from Reggie!

  4. basketball for dummies

    “Done! And thanks for the link :>”

    What link?!

    Hard keeping things straight, eh ‘Tiger’ ??

  5. Sorry about that bfd, here’s the link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/10/23/SP701G0NTQ.DTL

    GM, this will be the only channel broadcasting my rants this season. GSoM and I made each other offers we could each refuse.

  6. Fair enough FB. I’m sure they’ll do very well and good luck to them. Especially since their interests don’t conflict with yours.
    [Sollozzo leaves]

  7. Wednesday’s gonna be a fun evening…now for two reasons.

    4 days…

  8. You were dead on with the analysis of Brandon Wright, I can’t understand how he comprimises his length while closing out on shooters, then he’s so soft downlow gaurding the post…just don’t know what to think of that kid!

  9. Brytex, this basketball season starts when the World Series ends………GO GIANTS!!

  10. Three of the first four Ws games are in direct conflict with a World Series game. Thank goodness for the DVR.

  11. Baseball? I’m ashamed of you guys!

    :>

  12. LinkMaster, I’m more interested in the Warriors than the Giants. But this World Series thing is such an EVENT…I don’t know.

    MW, didn’t think about any possible conflicts past Wed. Do you think you could post the games that are in conflict along with the start times for each? If not, I’ll do it sometime before Wed.

  13. You’re training us FB. My ears perked up when I heard Jackson’s comment. Curry tried to run the same offense the night before, but didn’t shoot as often or as well as Ellis, whose individual effort was the only thing that made the second game close. Anybody else see that game and can confirm?

    Note, too, that Bynum and Odom didn’t play at all Friday, that the Lakers played small much of the night and could get away with it.

    I’m still not sure Curry and Ellis have figured out how to play together, however willing both are (or that they have the right plan). Something else to look out for.

    Go over to Fast Break and look at Juan’s comment #221 on Kawakami’s wonderfully astute posts on the SF Giants.

  14. Wednesday (10/27) — WS at 4:57 p.m.; Warriors at 7:30 p.m.
    Sunday (10/31) — WS at 5:20 p.m.; Warriors at 6:30 p.m.
    Wednesday (11/3) — WS at 4:57 p.m.; Warriors at 7:30 p.m.

    This assumes the Series goes six games and there are no rainouts. However, rain is forecast in the Bay Area this week, which could push a WS game to Friday, thereby conflicting with the Warriors game at 7:30. The DVR will be busy.

    Felty, if I watch the baseball game first, it’s only because it’s on first. =)

  15. señor felt, keeping lin in the bigs or shipping him out to the bushes would make little difference in their decision to sign adrien or not, as long as lin is part of the 15-head roster count. signing adrien would bring them to the maximum, and at that point as you know they’d have to release some body if they want to add a free agent back up guard. with lin’s graduate fellowship riley went in for a penny to please the presumptive owner, and if he and smart want longer term employment with the new regime, they’ll probably be in for a pound. even farming lin out seems unlikely unless lacob/gruber want to market the d-league. (when i last skimmed over mandalay’s portfolio, it included minor league beisbol but not hoops, with the senior spoelstra running the marketing for a mini-empire) .

    if smart lasts another ten years with an nba team, he probably won’t become .51 of the talent evaluator his ex-boss was, and it would not surprise me if he and riley temporize and evaluate a few factors before investing in another guard. they have to determine how much it actually depresses the team’s performance to use williams/ellis/lin/bell/d.wright to take some lead guard duties, who becomes available at what price if they want a significant improvement, and in general how should assets best be invested to lift the team above the bottom-feeder strata.

  16. I agree that Smart was running the wrong offense last night. We have no way of knowing whether he is doing so because of Lacob.

    Disagree with you with regard to B. Wright. I believe B. Wright was 6-10 from the field in the two previous games. Yes, Wright is no SF, but if used properly by Smart should be able to score at will inside. Smart has to design plays for B. Wright that are much like Jerry Sloan’s offense where he creates through picks and screens down low open shots for his forwards.
    His jump hook is deadly and cannot be stopped. And he has a good shot from 10 feet in as long as he is not forced to receive the ball, turn around, and then shoot, as he did the other night against the Lakers.

    B. Wright has a tendency to be around the foul-line when the ball goes up and doesn’t move to get the rebound until after it hits the rim. This can be corrected. He could be an excellent rebounder if played inside.

    B. Wright is doing an excellent job blocking shots after coming over from the weakside and getting to the foul-line. He runs in the open court as well as anyone. If the Warriors are to be successful he needs to be successful and can be with the right coaching. There are not many players that play above the rim. He is one of them.

  17. I meant to add that I don’t think that D. Wright is the answer at SF and Radman should not be his back-up. D. Wright is an inconsistent two point shooter, doesn’t get to the foul line enough and way to many turnovers. Ellis should back up Curry as well as R. Williams. I think that Carney when physically ready will win the SF position, and that R. Williams and B. Wright should be the back-ups, and Williams should also back up Ellis and Curry.

  18. Guys, I’m about to start experimenting with the look of this blog, with the aim of making the comments section more readable (numbering, smaller font, nesting). Unfortunately, my only options at WordPress are to choose between pre-canned themes… I can’t design the layout myself.

    So please don’t freak out if some weird looking experiments start showing up! Nothing I’m doing will be written in stone. In fact, I would greatly appreciate your feedback, keeping in mind that my aim is to build the community by making the comments more navigable. Thanks!

  19. Phewwwwwwww! I was getting worried. I mean that picture! I almost fainted.

    Amazing with all the WP options you can’t find one that’s readable. My vote is for serif fonts. Your last theme was about as readable at it gets. Twenty Ten is pretty good, but the columns are too wide.

    Play Misty for us!

  20. Well that didn’t accomplish much besides screwing up my settings. Just can’t find a theme that does everything I want.

    If anyone here knows anything about WordPress themes and has any suggestions, please contact me @ feltbot@gmail.com. I’m willing to purchase a new theme if necessary.

  21. Per your request rgg, here’s the misty theme. I like that it makes the comments more readable, but it doesn’t go so far as to number them, which I would prefer.

    As for the rest of the appearance, I kind of like the old look better. Bear in mind that the header is customizable, so I can insert my Warriors pics there.

    I’ll leave this up for a day or so to get some input. Let me know what you think, guys…

  22. Jesus Felty; you’re going high end! I know squat about this, but I like how professional the changes (so far) look. Numbering is a good idea as would be a Warriors logo over some picture of the Bay area.

  23. Also look at Coraline and K2-lite

    Jeez, this picture is freaking me out. It’s like getting hit by a blast of herbal essence.

  24. My original blog was coraline. I liked everything about it except the unruly comments section.

  25. OK, that picture isn’t herbal essence.

    Yes, I have better things to do tonight.

  26. ugh, my photoshop abilities are worse than my theme selections… but as you say, at least it gets rid of the nature idyll. Maybe I should have a header contest! lol.

    Can I get a rough vote of how many prefer this to the old? The comments seem more readable, don’t know about the rest…

  27. “So please don’t freak out if some weird looking experiments start showing up!”

    I am sooo freakin’ out right now.

    I’m not one for change especially when change isn’t needed. Felt, your blog in it’s previous form was…well, it was feltbot’s blog! Primitive, clunky, irritating to the eyes…but oh so well written! And that’s what made it kinda special.

    This is our Warriors hangout, our online mancave, our congressatti clubhouse. The season home opener is two days away and we’re discussing themes like we’re choosing drapes (“Guys, should we go with Misty or Rose Petal”)???

    All that being said, ultimately I’ll be okay with whatever the rest of the gang wants.

    My only request is for us being able to use some HTML stuff in our posts…oh, and that the Warriors win on Wednesday.

    2 days…Woo hoo!!!

  28. OK, screw it. Back by popular demand (3 votes!), the old theme and clunky comments section.

    Sorry for the distraction. I’ll try to do my next experiment offline somehow.

  29. Having missed the excitement last night, I’m struggling to understand the last 9 or 10 comments. However, my thought would be, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and it ain’t broke.

    Now, the Warriors — different story. Could you Photoshop the bench?

  30. MWLX, all I can say is, whatever I photoshop doesn’t get better…

  31. Alas, the links got lost in the shuffle. Could you please restore them?

  32. Thanks for pointing that out petaluman, should be taken care of now.

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