Out-Smarted: Warriors 111 Grizzlies 116

5 straight losses? Are you getting the feeling that the Warriors would never win another game all season if David Lee remained out? I’m going to do my best not to repeat what I’ve been posting recently about Coach Keith Smart, but it’s not going to be easy. The simple truth is that with Lee out, Keith Smart is getting exposed. He is getting out-coached something fierce. He is giving every impression of a man so out of his depth that he is trying to out-smart himself.

Instead of risking stupefaction among my readers by letting myself go into another full-lunged squawl, how about I just lightly run down my bullet points? Like a funeral dirge for one finger….

Smart, in D minor:

  • I’m sure that Smart has a very sophisticated reason on the tip of his tongue for starting Dan Gadzuric alongside Andris Biedrins, but whatever it is, it can’t be right. By the time he got EGadz out of the game the Warriors were down 17-8.
  • If Smart really believes this lineup is capable of “getting off to a fast start… getting out to a 10 point lead,” then it’s past time someone checked under his hood.
  • At the start of the game, Monta Ellis was being guarded by rookie Xavier Henry, who —  as Jim Barnett hilariously noted — has size 16 feet. Xavier Henry cannot guard Monta Ellis. Don Nelson would have poured brandy over Xavier Henry’s head, and set him aflame with the tip of his cigar. But the score was 11-2 Memphis before Keith Smart got Monta Ellis his first shot.
  • In the first half, the Warriors were -8 in points off turnovers. That is a stat that Don Nelson never, ever lost, for reasons that have already been discussed.
  • The difference between Reggie Williams and OJ Mayo in this game?  Lionel Hollins called Mayo’s number.
  • Smart began the third quarter with Yo Adrien instead of EGadz, and ran the first play for Monta Ellis.  Too late.
  • Once again, Smart rested Stephen Curry, who was on fire in this game, for 11 straight minutes in the second half because he had 4 fouls. Insane. Wrong.
  • Once again, Smart had both Curry and Ellis on the bench at the same time in the fourth quarter.  For over 5 minutes!  Ellis joined Curry on the bench to start the fourth, and Smart didn’t get them back in the game until the 6:48 mark with the Warriors down 8. Insane. Wrong.
  • Even Matt Steinmetz called Smart out for this post-game. There is no reason for both Curry and Ellis to be out of the game at the same time. On a team that has Jeremy Lin standing in for a real NBA bench player, that should never happen.
  • Was Smart coaching the schedule in his management of Curry and Ellis’ minutes? The Warriors play back-to-back in Minnesota tomorrow night, a gettable game that Smart desperately needs. I don’t think you manage minutes when you’re in a winnable game. I know Nellie wouldn’t do it. You go all out to win this game, and let tomorrow take care of itself.
  • After bringing Curry back in the fourth, Smart almost immediately yanked him back out when he fumbled a pass from Ellis out of bounds.  And this is where I think Smart may wind up in trouble with his players.  He called it “a teaching moment,” in his post game interview. A teaching moment that lasted until the 2:00 mark, apparently, which is when he brought Curry back in. Is crunch time in a closely contested game the right moment for a teaching moment? Is this how you treat an all-star caliber player, the leader of your team? Is this how you treat your team, that has fought and clawed its way back into the game?
  • During this teaching moment, a very ugly thought occurred to me. A thought so terrible, that I’m almost ashamed… Hell, no I’m not: Did Keith Smart subconsciously need a scapegoat for this loss?

Player Stuff:

Andris Biedrins: Whether it was a coaching adjustment that had the guards looking for him, or Beans just got more aggressive in making himself available under the hoop, this was an amazing offensive performance. Where has it been?

If he continues to play like this when Lee returns, Keith Smart may start looking like a coach again.

Vlad Rad: Yes, Vlad let off two gigantic brainfarts. Passing up a layup for a no-look behind the back pass to the Memphis bench was priceless. One for the Vladdy highlight reel. But the truth is, with the exception of those 2 TO’s, Vlad played an extraordinary game in his 9 minutes. He really did. Exceptional defense, man-t0-man on Randolph, and on rotations. 2 blocked shots. Good rebounding (the ref stole one from him). Excellent floor spacing. Two great passes for layups. And he hit his shots.

Despite his hair-destroying eccentricities, Vlad should have gotten every minute that EGadz has gotten at PF. And perhaps more.

Yo Adrien: My god it can be fun to watch a real man play power forward. He was moving Zach Randolph!  And he hit that 20-footer like it was nothing. Can he really do that?

What will the Warriors do with BWright and Adrien when everyone returns? The plot thickens. Particularly in the chest area.

Reggie Williams: There is a use for sixth men in the NBA. There really is.

Dorell Wright: Not a stopper.

EGadz: It’s not his fault.

Jeremy Lin: Sorry, not ready for the NBA. He’s just not. Among other things, he’s afraid to take his shot. Which Memphis knew, which is why they blocked every one of his layups. And now every other NBA team will know it too.

Flame away.

15 Responses to Out-Smarted: Warriors 111 Grizzlies 116

  1. GovernorStephCurry

    Agreed on every level.

  2. As I said in my comment on the previous post, it was the careless errors that most stuck in my head. There were so many and you can’t blame Smart for those.

    But the time management fourth quarter. This makes no sense at all. They could have some combination of Curry/Ellis, Ellis/Williams, Curry/Williams on the court the whole game, giving everyone time to rest (and at times all three). And I’d like to see Curry/Williams more–they can be electric together. We saw it last year. Also I’m still not sure they’ve figured out Ellis/Curry yet.

    I’m biased, but I’m pretty sure Curry does not need to be schooled. My impression is that Curry is most inattentive when he’s not in motion, not being used. He has to be kept active.

    But hey, Curry finally took some shots.

  3. No flaming here… If you don’t know Substitution 101 by now, you have no business coaching in this league. FIRE KEITH SMART ASAP

  4. Agreed on almost all of your points Felty. I have to laugh when you say play VladRad instead of Egadz. The longer you play Vlad, the more brain farts you get. I think there is about one every five minutes of floor time.
    It was the same for Nelly last year, so power forward is truly the position that is weakest on this team at the moment. When Lee comes back and Amundson finally is cleared to play, this will no longer be the Warriors weakness.
    I don’t believe that this team that Smart throws out on the floor can rebound with the big boys while playing Nellie-ball. Curry, Ellis, DWright and Williams DO NOT rebound like players we’ve had in recent seasons (SJax, Buike, Maggette, and even Baron). We have a slight back court and therefore need at least two legitimate rebounder’s on the floor to clear the ball for the fast break. With Lee and Beans, we have this, but no one else on this team rebounds very well.
    I also believe, that Smart is having the whole team crash to the glass for rebounds, which has left too many open three point shots, resulting in the very high percentages from Warriors opponents for the past five games.
    It all comes down to Lee, unfortunately. Like you’ve said Felty. The guy is an all-star (and maybe an even better fit for the Warriors than we ever thought.)

  5. Yeah, you said it.

    Curry played a total of 3 1/2 minutes of Q4 and was +5 in that span against their 1st string. RW and JL played 5 1/2 minutes to start Q4 with ME and SC on the bench and were -3 against their second team.

    Smart pulled Curry in Q4 for a lack of focus dropping a pass off his foot to supposedly teach him a lesson (while everyone else on the Ws in the game has been committing unforced errors right and left, and Curry actually has decreased his TO’s the past 3 games), then puts him back in with 2 1/2 mins left and the game probably just out of reach. What is that lesson, Keith?

    Gadz played 5 minutes total in Qs 1 and 2 and was -15, after starting the last game -12. And Smart complains about our bad starts. What is the lesson, Keith?

    Here’s the lesson I’m learning: I like the way Smart relates to his players, but it’s not nearly enough–Keith is not ready for prime time head coaching.

  6. I have to agree with some of your criticism of Smart, first on the starting Gadzooks, Adrien would have been much better. And, second on when and how long to rest Ellis and Curry. According to Rotowire, BWright is being shopped. A warm body would do, but the W’s may not even get that in return.

  7. felt: RW is our worst perimeter defender. He was way too slow to stay with Mayo, who torched him. I like the offense RW brings off the bench but you have to watch his matchup on D. I also like JL off the bench. He’s improving quickly. He’ll be a bona fide bu pg shortly.

  8. I couldn’t find it, but once Davidson coach Bob McKillop took Curry off the court for a moment, trying to get him to rein in because he thought he overdoing it. Instead, when Curry returned he went on a scoring tear. Curry has to be turned loose.

    I did find this, years ago, in the NY Daily News:
    “Stephen Curry can shoot. In theory, Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense produces open shots. So are Curry and the Knicks a match made in draft lottery heaven? Bob McKillop, Curry’s former coach at Davidson, thinks so. ‘Mike plays a full-court game – he’s constantly in attack mode. That system is a very good fit for Stephen’s talents,’ McKillop told the Daily News Tuesday. ‘I think he’ll be very effective because of his physical talent as a shooter and … the unselfish nature of the way he plays the game.'”

    And I really enjoyed Hubie Brown’s comments on the Warriors. He was strong in his praise for the backcourt, Ellis and Curry’s speed and quickness, their ability to score.

    But Biedrins — those hooks were just plain pretty.

    Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
    Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’

    Huh-oh, I’m quoting Keats.

  9. feltbot…we have always been kindred spirits in regards to many things, and disagreed on only a few {BWright, and it looks like I was wrong on that one, something I have willingly conceded on Adam’s blog site.] And I agree that Smart is not really head coaching material but where I think you should begin to focus in your otherwise excellent analysis is not so much on what Nelson would have done [sorry my friend, he is not coming back] but on what our “next” coach should do in order to maximize the roster as presently constituted.

    I am unsure how you feel about this one, and I definitely think the Warriors blew it big time in not bringing back Tolliver, but I think the Warriors roster, when completely healthy, is one that can win a decent share of the games. Strong rebounding group, enough scorers, solid point guard, explosive shooting guard. I am of the opinion that the team is one difference maker from being an upper echelon team…see Boston when they got Garnett and LA when they got Gasol. Few remember that the Celtics were terrible and the Lakers only average when they made said moves and now they are probably the two best teams in the NBA.

    Just curious about your thoughts on this, and who you think “said” player could be. I know you wanted Granger, but that’s not happening. Melo is not coming, Iguadala is not a difference maker in my mind. I believe Lacob wants to get one…any ideas?

  10. AA: Nellie is my touchstone for now because this roster is nothing if not a Nellie roster, begging to be let go. In the league, I think only Mike D’Antoni or Alvin Gentry would know how to get the most out of it. My disappointment with Smart — who SHOULD know — knows no bounds.

    As for a difference maker, how about trading Dorell Wright for Stephen Jackson :> Seriously speaking, I believe in the team’s roster as is. If they had Tolliver and Watson instead of Lacob’s darlings, there would be little doubt in my mind that the roster is playoff caliber.

    Bottom line, Smart is making this roster look terrible, when it’s not. He’s making it look turnover prone when its not. Indecisive when its not. Slow when it’s not. Coaching makes a huge difference in basketball.

  11. Lee to play tonight?


    I would like to lay odds that Smart gets him on the floor to battle Kevin Love.

    But is rushing back, out of condition, the right decision for Lee? Does it put him at risk?

  12. While basking in the glow of my “first love” team’s World Series run and victory (I’ve been a Giants fan since I was little girl), I’ve been watching the Warriors faithfully. That’s probably a mistake, since it leads me to thoughts like “I wonder what it would be like if my basketball team had a great coach like Bruce Bochy, a genius at matchups and game strategy”. Oh, that’s right, we had one, but now he’s gone to Maui.

    As a lifelong Don Nelson fan, I really have been trying to be fair and give Keith Smart the benefit of the doubt. I’m certain Smart is a very nice man whom the players like (for now), he is just not ready to coach winning basketball in the NBA. Not only are his thought processes and substitutions, or lack thereof, mind-boggling, but most of the games have been leaden and boring.

    I don’t want to watch my Warriors walk the ball up the court and then mill around over and over again, but I’m afraid we are in for a season of that unless something changes fast. Where’s the fast break? How about letting the team run? That’s what it is built for.

    I like Jeremy Lin’s defensive efforts, but he just can’t make shots when he needs to. He really could benefit from some D-League experience, and we could afford to have an NBA-ready backup point guard, for starters. Jeff Adrien is a bona fide rebounding stud. As for EGadz, the nickname says it all. He is almost guaranteed to foul stupidly within 30 seconds of entering the game. His shooting skills rival Jeremy Lin’s. Although I am encouraged to hear that Brandan Wright is being shopped again/still, it’s doubtful that we can get much back for him.

    Who knows? Larry Riley has found some good players for us, and he might be able to pull something off. I can only hope, because the way it’s going now, it’s gonna be ugly, even when David Lee returns. I’ve read that Keith Smart is in touch with Nellie; he should make it a daily event and listen attentively.

  13. I was disappointed when they let Nelson go, but consoled myself that perhaps Smart was the closest thing to him, having done much of the coaching by all accounts as Nelson gradually left more and more to his assistants. Kind of how Alvin Gentry was a good replacement for D’Antoni in Phoenix.

    But Smart, maybe because of the influence of the new outspoken owners, is being more of a Terry Porter than an Alvin Gentry. And we all know how that turned out.

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