Opening Salvo: Golden State Warriors 132 Houston Rockets 128

I am a firm believer that there is nothing wrong with an ugly win.  That belief was tested a bit in this game, in which I was unable to discern many signs of cohesive team play on either side of the ball.  In my eyes, this game was won by the extraordinary individual efforts of a few very talented Warriors players.  I think you know who.  But it was a win.

And it was a win against a very, very good team that knows how to play together. Upset that the Warriors gave up 128 points?  Well, consider that the Rockets put up 110 last night against the Lakers.  The Lakers, one of the best defensive teams in the league, in the walk-it-up system of Phil Jackson.  This Rockets team can really put the ball in the basket, and in all sorts of ways.  And of course this Warriors defense has played very little together.  So I’m shelving my read of the effectiveness of Keith Smart’s defensive coaching for another day.

As for the offense, I am unable to understand the point of a lot of the sets that the Warriors are running.  They are using a lot of motion, which sometimes results in good shots, but to my eye is essentially pointless.  It seems to me to be a lot of wasted effort, eventually resulting in the ball being dumped off in a spot with no real edge, from which a one-on-one move is still required to get a shot. But I am also willing to say that the fault for that perception may not lie with Keith Smart. It might in fact be my own fault: as a devoted follower of Don Nelson’s teams, I don’t know a heck of a lot about motion offenses (except that they tend to take the ball out of the point guard’s hands). I am in the process of trying to educate myself. As are the Warriors players. It could be that at some point in the season this offense will start to click like clockwork. At which point poor Feltbot might experience a eureka moment, and stop seeing the pink elephants of his Nellie D.T.’s.

Hard as it might be on my bitten tongue, I aim to give Keith Smart a real chance to win my admiration.  I’m rooting for him.  And will continue to root for him so long as he keeps finding ways to win with this extraordinarily talented team.

Even if it’s winning ugly.

Random Stuff:

The opening tip: Curious as to why David Lee jumped center to start the game?  I can only guess that it was related to Smart’s decision to guard Scola with Lee, and the 6-6″ Chuckie Hayes with Biedrins.  Which to me was a very curious decision.  I can’t think of why Smart would do this, unless it was related to the team’s scheme to control Aaron Brooks.  The Warriors did a great job on Brooks for once, holding him to 4-15 shooting.  But of course Scola rampaged. As did Hayes, who was too quick for Beans.

Monta Ellis: Let’s see, the Warriors put a complete team with multiple options on the floor, and suddenly Monta’s offensive efficiency returns. Shocking! (Don’t bother trying to explain this concept to snake-oil salesman John Hollinger).

This is what an all-star looks like.

I do have one quibble though:  Last year, and indeed for his entire career, Monta has been decidely unclutch in crunch time.  His three blown free throws at the end of this game did little to dispel that concern.  I don’t like his form at the line. Starts his shot too high, not enough legs, too much wrist.  Too susceptible to fatigue and nerves. He needs to stop practicing over-the-shoulder circus shots and get with Mark Price.

Stephen Curry: Thank god Keith Smart finally started calling his number in the second half.  It saved me from a fit of apoplexy. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Pick and roll watch: I noticed three involving Curry and Lee.  The first, at 6:50 of the 1st Q, was an absolute beauty.  Curry went away from the pick, drawing the double team, hit Lee at the free throw line, who touch-passed to Biedrins for a layup.  Did someone envision this play the day after the Lee trade?

The play even works for Brandan Wright (9:15 of the 4th Q).  Isn’t that a sign that the play really, really works?

David Lee: Lee really blows at defense. Right? Anyone watching him try to guard Scola in the 1st half would be excused for having that thought.

But what happened in the 3rd Q, when the Warriors and Lee got serious on the defensive end?  Lee started really laying his body on Scola, and held him to 3 pts. on 0-3 shooting.  What was up with that? (Scola got free again at the end of the 4th, but most of that came with Biedrins out, and the Warriors leading and trying not to foul.)

All I know is this:  The Warriors have not had a power forward who could even put a body on Luis Scola, let alone hold him to 3 pts. on 0-3 in a quarter, since Tyrone Hill.

The rebounding is a beautiful thing to behold.  But equally beautiful in my eyes is the passing ability.  6 assists in limited touches. His catch of that long Curry outlet and over the shoulder touch-pass to Dorell Wright was simply mind-boggling.  Too bad that the mind-boggled DWright fumbled the pass.

What an extraordinary talent Lee is. Just get him the damn ball.

The Rebounding: We were told by the pundits that Biedrins and Lee would cannabilize each other’s rebounds.  In our first sample, Beans had 11, Lee 15, and the Warriors outrebounded the rugged Rockets by 6.

To quote one of my favorite authors, G.B. Shaw: “40 million Frenchmen can’t be right.”

Andris Biedrins: Hate to have to say it, but he needs to go back to the hair gel. Immediately. Otherwise, nice effort.

Small Ball: I detected at various times Vlad Rad at 5 and 4 (and never at the 3), DWright and Carney at 4, and BWright at 5.  None of these lineups was effective, but it was interesting to see Smart experiment with them.

Dorell Wright: Looked pretty good on offense.  But he was largely unneeded on defense in this game (against Battier).  That’s where the Warriors need him to shine.

Brandan Wright: Did some nice things, a nice offensive rebound and putback, an even nicer (to me) blockout and defensive rebound, and some blocks.  Did some ugly things too.  Got isolated on the wing against Scola but couldn’t beat him to the basket, and ate his shot (5:10 of 2nd Q).

I think it’s obvious that he’s best played on the second (or third) unit, against the other team’s softer players.  He’s well out of Smart’s preferred rotation at the moment.

Rodney Carney: Love the athleticism, but the lack of hoops IQ was alarmingly evident.  Particularly on the defensive side, which is what he’s in for.

Vlad Rad: It is beyond comprehension that a 6’10” player with great athleticism, and the talent to be a great 3 point shooter, could never learn to make a layup.

19 Responses to Opening Salvo: Golden State Warriors 132 Houston Rockets 128

  1. Hey Feltie – glad you are going to be posting on these warriors, you are the best bay area basketball read…. When I read adam’s blog, i search the posts for feltbot to see your lingering impact. I think you need to goad adam on his negative take on Lee.. Unbelievable – he gives away more than he takes???? This will probably be a theme from adam as he has to support his initial take on Lee…”HOW BAD TEAMS STAY BAD!!!” This was his comment on the acquisition of an all star PF for Anthony(“He hasn’t done a whole lot. He’s just not that physically strong”-D’Antoni) Randoph… Perhaps adam meant the Knicks…..
    By the way i think the over on the warriors wins is looking good.

  2. Ugly win — what will we get if this team ever plays pretty?

    Smart probably deserves much credit for helping Biedrins get his head together this past summer. This will make a big difference.

    And they didn’t fall apart second half.

    I’ll take it.

  3. Great post Felty, and a great game too. I am impressed with the poise and intelligence if this new Dubs team. They do the little things you need to to win and they are an offensive juggernaut. When they get Lou and Udoh back I can see thay interior defense improving significantly. Smart will have some toys to play with.

    As for the motion offense I love it. When all the players are moving help defense becomes near impossible. This allows monta to get to the rim without everyone collapsing. Nellie never ran these sets, to his detriment. They give us a dimension in the half court we haven’t had in a while. Plus having big men like Lee and Beens setting picks is a great way to get out shooters off.

    I like this team a lot, and i liked them even more after this game.

    Note: from my recollection that ridiculous touch pass on the bad outlet from lee to wright ended wright dropping it to monta for the and one. But I could certainly be wrong.

  4. Tolliver watch (I’ll stop this eventually), from Yahoo:

    “Kevin Love had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, but only played 23 minutes. Rambis preferred to go with Tolliver’s energy and defense in the fourth. …”

  5. I was only able to catch the 4th quarter because of a certain baseball game involving Orange and Black. What I saw in the 4th was mildly incredible — A Warriors team that simply did not give up the lead despite foul trouble and a huge free throw disparity.
    The guards played to the game plan in the fourth quarter by not allowing open 3’s to Houston’s shooters. Instead the middle was sieve and Scola scored at will, but Monte and Curry’s hot shooting was too much. This will not always be the case, especially when Monta goes cold.
    The one knock I have on Monta is that he didn’t use Lee’s high screens enough, but rather wanted Lee to clear out of the way so he could go 1-on-1. That’s problematic.
    I think they kind of do it, but the Warriors should use Lee, the same way the Rockets use Scola. Both have an incredible touch around the basket, and are better facing up at the free throw line than catching a ball in the low post. I agree, get Lee the ball.

  6. Hey, Oregon Guy, what do you think of Batum’s start to the season? Here’s his line from last night at the Clippers:

    N. Batum F 32:15 6-7 3-4 0-0 (+13) 6rb 3 ass 2 stl 2 blk 15pts.

    That kind of stat stuffing is elite. I think I may have struck fantasy gold with my last draft pick. (Which is a good thing if Arenas continues to get injured.)

    And Roy looks healthy to me as well. What do you think?

  7. Felty, I saw the season opener and was quite surprised by Batum’s numbers; even more surprised that he was ‘guarded’ by Steve Nash all night. So I thought I’d seen an aberration. But he did it 2 games in a row. And Roy was certainly a different player (from the preseason) in that opener, focused, professional and efficient. That sucks for my ‘happiness goal’ for this season: The Warriors threatening to catch the Blazers in the regular season standings.

    This 4 game road trip will tell a lot about the Blazers. I just don’t see the depth, health, and team spirit to get them their expected 50+ wins. And to me, Roy is a player who’s body seems old for his years. I expect an long stretch of missed games sometime this year for him.

  8. Watching the Wizards game, and oh boy. I really wish I had bet under on them now. There are few big men in the league more clueless than Javale McGee. And John Wall, I am comfortable saying after watching one half of NBA basketball, is one of the most overrated #1 picks of all time. Didn’t the scouts notice that HE SHOOTS A SET-SHOT? And even his set shot doesn’t have a prayer. Man oh man. Even the TWolves are better than the Wizards.

    This could be very, very good for Arenas fantasy owners, if he could ever get himself back on the court.

  9. Fun to watch. Glad to see Warriors back on TV. Can definitly tell that they still have a ways to go b4 they are a legit threat. MAybe they just need more time to gel……. Amudison should help. BWright will be obsolete once he gets back from injury.

  10. Yea I thought what was up with the Lee/ Curry pick and roll. Id figure to see that atleast 10 times a game.

  11. I’m kind of tired tonight. Can someone rant about this:

    “The NBA has banned upside-down headbands” (from Yahoo)

    Rondo has decided just to take his off. It seems like we get a rule like this every week now. The quick T’s sound ominous, too.

  12. RGG, an NBA player wearing the NBA logo upside-down is a disrespectful gesture. I agree with the decision to ban it. Aren’t these guys bazillionaires BECAUSE of the NBA?

  13. “You’re welcome.”
    – Chancellor Stern

  14. I’ll give this five minutes. I didn’t know the context:

    “Well, about a decade ago, when headbands were starting to come back into vogue after a 20-year or so absence, the NBA decided to cash in, and replace all the team-issued headbands they provided free of charge to their players, with a version that featured the famous NBA logo on top of the team colors. And you had to wear the logo’d version, for fear of a fine.”

    I didn’t know they had a logo, or that anyone was wearing them upside down until I saw this report (my tv’s not that big). Also I don’t like headbands anyway. But it seems to me if a guy wants to wear a headband to keep sweat out of his eyes, he shouldn’t have to wear the one they tell him to, much less one bearing that logo. OK, it’d be nice if it matched the team’s colors.

    More to my point, the league has attempted a lot to manage behavior and appearance, mandating from the top instead of trying to persuade teams and coaches. My real concern is that getting this picky might make it difficult to control the behavior that really is extreme and needs to be kept under wraps. It creates a tension needlessly, and if you push too far, you loose cooperation and mutual understanding.

    The quick technicals–new rule–I’ve heard about really concern me. Apparently a wrong look is enough for a T. I haven’t seen them, but heard about them in some preseason games. If they keep this rule:

    1. They won’t be applied consistently or fairly (guess who won’t get these T’s)
    2. They will often come at critical times and influence games wrongly, especially if someone gets ejected.
    3. They add to the tension. Players have to react, but should keep reactions within important limits, not by strict and automatic calls.

  15. Stern is trying to make hoops as white as possible, easier to market say his advisers. I don’t like his micro management at all, especially since this game sells itself. Stern needs to back the eff off, get a Jesus piece and a wave cap and have a roll a fat one.

  16. Wait a sec, I DID bet the Wizards under! It was the Cavs I didn’t bet.

    Oh goody.

  17. “Stern is trying to make hoops as white as possible….” “… especially since this game sells itself.” Since the game that sells itself is played predominantly by blacks, it’s unlikely there’ll be a more ludicrous assertion in the history of the known world.

  18. OK, I’ll back off. What I’m really not looking forward to is the upcoming contract agreement. I have no favorites here.

  19. Bring back the Walton bandana.