The Closer: Warriors 110 Pacers 108

Monta Ellis rewrote the title of this Warriors-Pacers recap for me. I had several titles in the works. “Outpaced” was one, jotted down when the Pacers were running away with the tempo and the game in the second quarter. Others had to do with how badly Dorell Wright — the putative Warriors stopper — was getting worked by Danny Granger, and how badly Keith Smart was getting worked by the very underrated coach on the other bench. There was a moment when I thought Stephen Curry might have overcome the abominable way in which he is being used to be the hero of this game. But we know what happened there.

In the end, there was no longer a choice. This game belongs to Monta Ellis. Once again he put the Warriors on his back, playing 44 minutes and putting up 36 points (on 16-28 shooting), 5 boards, 6 assists. But it was his last shot, the game-winner with 0:00.6 left on the clock, that made the hair rise on the backs of necks all around the Bay. It was cool, it was composed, it was perfectly created, it was wide open. And it was pure.

Last year I was all over Monta for his repeated failure to close quarters and games. We saw all manner of botches. Turnovers, offensive fouls, horrible shots, easy bricks. Nothing worked for Monta last year, as he worked himself into shape, and into a better attitude. This year has been a different story from the start. His success rate to end quarters has improved dramatically. But game-winning shots are another animal completely. With shots like the one he hit tonight, Monta Ellis is stepping into the most elite rank of NBA players there is:

The Closers.

Keith Smart: No way to sugarcoat or hedge this, Keith Smart’s decision to play a lineup of Lou Amundson, Vlad Rad, DWright, Reggie Williams and Acie Law in the second quarter was an egregious FAIL. I don’t say this because of the poor outcome. I say this because the poor outcome was predetermined and foreseeable. If Keith Smart went to this lineup 5 times — against a lineup featuring Foster in the middle, Granger at power forward, and George and Dunleavy on the wings — he would get blown out 5 times. If he went to it 10 times, he would get blown out 10 times. If he went to it 100 times, he would get blown out all 100 times.

By going to this lineup, Smart ceded to the Pacers the advantage in size, rebounding, skill, quickness and shooting. What edges did he create for the Warriors in return? If you’re still scratching your head, you’ve taken my point.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again.  Barring immediate risk to life or limb, or immediate risk of fouling out of the game, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry should NEVER both be out of the game at the same time. NEVER.

I’m also just about ready to say that Lou Amundson should never be put into an NBA game that is not a blowout. I’ll hold off on that conclusion for now. But I’m close. Let’s just say this: I’m 100% certain that Lou Amundson should never play center in an NBA game in which the opposing team is playing Danny Granger at the four.

Fortunately, Keith Smart corrected his mistakes in the second half. And I’m willing to give him credit for it: I flat out don’t believe the story that Amundson didn’t return because of his rolled ankle.

And I’ll go one step further: going to Brandan Wright at center was very, very clever. (Shocked? More on this below.)

Stephen Curry: I’ve been meaning to write a feature about my contention that the Warriors could be and should be the fastest team end-to-end in the NBA, a contention that was hotly contested in the comments section. Instead, I’ll attack the question piecemeal, beginning now.

It is obvious that any team with Monta Ellis could be a devastating running team. Take a look at Miami: they frequently have a one-man fast break in Dwayne Wade, and their centers are stuck in cement.

It’s also obvious that Dorell Wright is a nice running three.

What’s not so obvious is how Andris Biedrins, David Lee and Stephen Curry help make the Warriors fast break one of the best in the league.  I’ll focus on Beans and Lee in another post. Curry is the guy I want to talk about now. Isn’t he one of the slowest guards in the NBA? How could he contribute to making the Warriors the fastest team end-to-end in the league?

This is how:

4:35 2nd Q:  Curry receives the outlet, glances upcourt and instantly throws a perfect three-quarter court alley oop to Dorell Wright.

2:58 2nd Q: Curry throws another perfect three-quarter court bullseye to David Lee at the basket, for two free throws. Note that Curry took no longer in assessing how to make this pass, and yet didn’t throw an alley-oop to David Lee. He threw him a pass that hit him right in his floor-bound hands.

That’s how. Curry’s transcendent passing ability literally shrinks the court for the Warriors. Take a stopwatch to those plays.

The fastest team end-to-end in the NBA. I stand by it.

I don’t have too much else to say about Curry’s game that wasn’t obvious to all. This was one of his best defensive games in a while, at least in terms of generating turnovers and getting rebounds. Smart’s failure to protect him from foul trouble  – and overreactions when he does get in foul trouble — had him playing matador defense on occasion. Right up until his brainfart at the end of the game (which I think was caused by him pressing too hard to preserve his star of the game status, because he had not had a chance to be a star since last season).

On the offensive side, I love the fact that the Warriors have weapons all over the floor this season. But I hate what that is making Smart do to Curry’s game. There is a giant elephant in the room that no one, but no one, is discussing:

If Stephen Curry got 28 shots, he would put up 36 points too. Maybe more.

Or has everyone forgotten that already?

Dorell Wright: I suppose you could call this a nice game from Dorell Wright. His 21 points offset some of the damage that Granger did. He again played yeoman’s minutes, and is part of the glue that holds our pathetic Lacob-designed second unit together. His “team” defense was great on occasion: 4 steals, 2 blocks, one absolutely spectacular.

But this Warriors team cannot hope to win a playoff series until Dorell Wright decides to become a stopper.

To become a stopper, you need to commit more than zero fouls when guarding the other team’s best player. You need to get right up in someone’s face. You need to get into their jersey. You need to get into their head. You need to reach into their chest, rip out their heart, and eat it in front of their eyes.

Like Paul Pierce did to Kobe Bryant in the 2008 finals. Like Stephen Jackson did to Dirk Nowitzki when We Believed. That’s how you win a playoff series.

Dorell Wright does not seem to have an ounce of this quality in him.

David Lee: DLee deserves more, but I’m going to keep this real short. I have a question for Matt Steinmetz, and all the other main-stream Bay Area basketball pundits:

That ferocious box out that Lee put on Jeff Foster with 1:18 left on the clock and the game in the balance, that resulted in a loose-ball foul on Foster and free-throws…

Did that improve the Warriors’ defense?

Mike Dunleavy: I don’t think I’ve ever written this before, and it should be written:

Mike Dunleavy’s biggest problem in Golden State was Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson.

They froze him out. When he was open, the pass was late, the pass was poorly thrown, or the pass didn’t arrive at all. I saw it over and over and over again. (And then I read Dunleavey allude to it, once he got to Indiana). They had an agenda. An agenda to get themselves big contracts, at his expense.

They wanted him to lose confidence, they wanted him to fail, and he did.

I’m not saying that Mike Dunleavey is a great player. I’m just saying what Gilbert Arenas and Jason Richardson did to him.

Flame away.

Vlad Rad: Surprised by Vlad’s poor showing in this game?  Don’t be.  You see, Vlad was asked to match up with Danny Granger, and Danny Granger is a THREE.

Brandan Wright: Surprised that Brandan Wright had a decent game? Don’t be. You see, in this game Brandan Wright was asked to play the only position in the NBA that he can possibly play: backup center.

His three shots? Point blank range, which is the extent of his range. Made possible by the fact that he was hanging around the basket, as centers do.  (With David Lee spreading the floor.)

But the real reason he was useful in this game was spelled out by Keith Smart post-game.  First of all, Smart was able to hide him against a non-scorer, in Jeff Foster. (There is simply no way to hide Brandan Wright against NBA power forwards.)

Secondly, his combination of quickness and length made him able to switch onto Granger and George under the basket when Foster picked their defenders.  That shut down Indy’s penetration nicely.

Third, in the event that he got fouled, he could presumably convert his free-throws at a rate higher than 27%.

Nice call, Keith Smart. And nice contribution, Brandan Wright.

38 Responses to The Closer: Warriors 110 Pacers 108

  1. Nice post as usual Felty. The D Wright section begs the question — if the Warriors are to make a run at the playoffs, they need a stopper at the 3. The current roster clearly is lacking. What do they do? With Udoh in the game, they get a defensive presence that does alleviate this need a bit simply because the Warriors stop giving up uncontested dunks, but Udoh can’t play big minutes yet. What should be done?

    Also, you’ve hit it on the head with B Wright: Backup center. I liked his toughness in this game. Several strong rebounds on the defensive end and the foul of Foster that did not result in a shot.

  2. I caught only the 4th quarter and saw a clutch team with three things that stood out: curry’s running banker which looked like a game winner, Brandan Wright’s solid play which could not have been more unexpected from me, and Monta’s ice-in-the-veins dagger at the end.

    And then Curry took the shine off of his moment with that foul at the other end. Damn. I was hoping for a moment to shut up his criticizers. I must say B. Wright’s best stretch in a long time gives me pause. I’d be willing to give him Amundsen’s minutes to see if it wasn’t an illusion. And I was very glad to see Monta shut up HIS criticizers–at least until their addled brains rationalize some excuse as to how he still should be traded. A very satisfying win.

  3. Post game, Smart was asked about Curry’s behind the back pass and said something like he was sure it’s something Steph would want to discuss in the locker room (I’ve forgotten) and also mentioned Bobby Knight to the effect he wouldn’t have approved. (Cf. with BK youtube on Curry’s passing.)

    The last thing I ever thought Curry would become on this team is a bad citizen. Imagine if Smart had real personality problems on this team–and he doesn’t. This is probably the most coachable team in the NBA, at least in terms of behavior. Smart is obsessed by control and created this situation himself.

    Turn the kid loose. And let him showboat every now and then. It feeds the spirit.

    Curry took 10 shots–is this his allowance now? He was also +17 which doesn’t mean a lot except that he isn’t hurting the team when he’s out there. Why on earth does Smart at least not have Curry run the second half sub unit? Curry would have found Rad et al. He could develop an effective sub unit to give Ellis the rest he needs and keep Curry active, ready to take over in case Ellis can’t carry the team. And the whole load has been put on Ellis now, not that he hasn’t carried it.

    My guess on that 2nd. half sub unit was that it was put in for “defense” and “energy” and time control. We should put Smart in a factory with a stopwatch to improve production.

    And yes, dumb Curry foul.

    But Smart went down several more notches in my book.

  4. If Wright is not a stopper, and Vlad Rad ineffective at the 3, who would you put there instead? Williams? Not exactly a stopper either, and makes the backcourt even smaller. That’s one of the reasons Wright is getting so much time — without Carney, there isn’t anyone on the roster you could sub in for a different, more defensive look at the 3.

  5. Felty, totally agree with you on Curry. Great game against Collison, who was a -22 in 33mins and Curry was a +17 in 33mins.

    People started up the “trade Curry” talks shortly after the game, reacting to the And 1 he gave up at the end and how Monta came to his rescue with his GW shot.

    How quickly they forgot everything you mentioned he did great, as well as hitting a rather clutch runner off the backboard on the third to last possession.

    Let’s not forget how many bone-headed fouls Monta has given to close out quarters and his last GW shot, as I recall, was in 2008.

    So, while we should celebrate Monta’s brilliance and clutchless, we should do it at the expense of throwing Curry under the bus.

    Brandan Wright: every
    time this guy hits the floor, he makes a positive impact. Need to play him more.

    Lou Amundson: I’m not as hard as you are on him, but as an offensive option, he is not. He does, however, create possessions with his rebounding and overall hustle. Keith Smart needs to use him sparingly but with the right players that can take advantage of those possessions.

    Therefore, my suggestion to Smart is to stop with the cumulative substitutions, where it’s a clear indication that he’s realized he’s running his starters into the ground with what, 2 minutes left in the quarter, and sub in guys earlier, one at a time. I don’t know, seems like a simple concept to me.

  6. WarriorsWorld.net sitdown with Joe Lacob:

    http://www.warriorsworld.net/2011/01/20/joe-lacob-interview-biedrins-conversation/

    Hey, there’s that rebounds/minute stat again! It does actually mean something with starters.

    I actually heard Sherwood Strauss ask that pointed question to Smart about Biedrins’ .7 FTA/game average in the post-game, and thought to myself “Which mainstream media writer was smart enough and brave enough to ask THAT question?” Now I know: none.

  7. By claiming that Brandon Wright can only shoot from near the basket and can only play back-up center, you are still maintaining he’s not a good player. Wrong. B. Wright made two very clever moves by going from one side of the basket to the other to score. He’s now shooting near his career avg. of 55% from the floor. I believe he made his last seven shots.

    Also, I believe he played some PF and not just center. I believe D. Lee was playing center when Wright ran out to the wings.

    I don’t understand why Smart made no defensive adjustments during the first quarter. He just sat there and allowed the Pacers to shoot 60% from the field. He should have brought Udoh into the game. The Warriors would probably have finished the first quarter 8 points up and not 2 points down.
    He does this over and over again.

    He also misplayed both Biedrens and Udoh in the first half by not keeping either of them near the basket to stop opponents from scoring inside.No wonder the Warriors only garnered half the number of offensive rebounds then the Pacers.

    In the second quarter, the Pacers shots 3-5 when Biedrens was on the court and 3-8 when Udoh was on the court. Udoh was not to be seen again.

    With the up-coming tough schedule in February, I don’t see the Warriors getting to .500, and therefore their chances of making the play-offs, are dismal. The only chance the Warriors have is to start Udoh and chance to prove that he can shut down team inside, and for Biedrens, who cannot shut down opponents down inside to come off the bench, where he would be more effective.

  8. Smart is straying from Lacob doctrine. His days are numbered.

  9. OG, what’s going on with Wes Mathews, is he injured? He’s killing me!

    I see Batum has really been stepping up it up lately. Of course, I already dropped him…

  10. When Smart pairs Udoh with D. Lee, and Biedrens with B.Wright, the Warriors will dominate. Not going to happen.

  11. I agree that it’s not going to happen Frank, and I don’t think it should either. Putting 2 non-shooters on the floor at the same time is disastrous for the driving ability of Monta, and generally disastrous for all NBA teams.

  12. Informative and candid Q&A with Joe Lacob posted on CSN:

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/01/20/11/QA-with-Warriors-owner-Joe-Lacob/landing_warriors.html?blockID=395085&feedID=2799

    Felty, if Lacob is doing the rounds, maybe you should request an interview.

  13. Here’s part 2:
    http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/01/20/joe-lacob-interview-part-2-on-possibly-trading-ellis-or-curry-trying-to-trade-for-carmelo-evaluating-smart-and-more/

    Some of the things to take away:

    1) These interviews should remove all doubt that Joe Lacob is the de facto GM of the Warriors, and Larry Riley the Little Donnie Nelson to his Mark Cuban. As has been reported precisely nowhere but here.

    “Larry and I interact almost every day…. He and I have actually come up with trade scenarios and we’ve presented them.”

    “There are players out there that we really like, that we’ve targeted, that Larry’s targeted.”

    “I’m here every day, unless I’m on the road with the team or… I still have some residual responsibilities with my old job. I’m on various boards of directors. But otherwise I’m here day and night.”

    On whether a big name GM might be brought in: “I think Larry’s pretty darn good. He’s doing a good job. And I’m extremely involved in it on a daily basis.”

    Translation: “I don’t want a big name GM because I’m the GM, and Larry is very happy carrying my water.”

    2) Lacob is desperate to make a deal that puts HIS stamp on this team. I don’t think he’s stupid enough to trade Stephen Curry, who has fallen behind Monta in Lacob’s estimation. (And for as much as I love Monta, that is a wrong estimation.) But he just might prove to be that stupid. He reeks with desperation to make his name.

    3) Center is the position he is targeting, and there are big fat crosshairs on Andris Biedrins’ back (sorry if that’s politically incorrect in these harrowing Palineoligical times). Lacob wants a low post presence.

    4) When Lacob says that Keith Smart is “getting better,” that is not a compliment. That means he’s F’d up royally in certain games in Lacob’s eyes.

    Feltbot’s Fearless Forecast: It’s playoffs or bust for Keith Smart’s career.

    5) For me the humorous highlight of the interviews is when he defends the Lin signing. To paraphrase: “I [Lacob] recognize that Lin can’t shoot, and can’t drive to his left, can’t finish a drive at all really, but there is no doubt that he is going to be a really good NBA player, and we are going to keep him.”

    6) He also pronounces himself satisfied with the Amundson signing. Well he would, wouldn’t he? Otherwise he’d be criticizing the GM that he himself hired.

  14. Feltbot: I agree that two non-shooters should be on the court at the same time. But I consider B. Wright a shooter. He is a career 55% shooter.
    Smart just needs to give him more playing time and touches. And Biedrens and B. Wright, as backups, would be on the court no more 15 minutes per game, unless the operated very successfully together. B. Wright would provide better interior defense then D. Lee, and Biedrens would be there to gobble up rebounds. I know we differ on this, but I think B. Wright can post up outside and either drive to the basket or shoot outside, and not impede Ellis’ ability to get to the hoop.

    Lacob should never have given the interview he did. He has completely undermined the cohesiveness of the team inside the locker room.
    He should not have spoken about trading Curry. He has no reason for concluding that Curryand Ellis are not good defensive tandem, when Biedrens is playing inside and providing no interior defensive help. If he trades Curry he will set the Warriors franchise back another 5 years.

    Lacob is correct in saying that Udoh should get more playing time. I’m sure that Smart will get the message and play him more.

    Lacob’s comments suggest to me that Smart is a goner if he doesn’t get the Warriors to the playoffs. Although I have been critical of Smart, I am not ready to abandon the Warriors offense, a simpler version of Nellie’s offense, that is very effective, that would be thrown away with Smart’s departure. Smart has done a good job at getting turnovers down in recent games, and the Warriors have shot a very high FG% lately.

  15. Re Lacob, if I understand you right, felty, what happened to patience? Does he think he’s going to die soon (as may have been the case with Paul Allen and his recent cancer.) Playoffs this year is so unrealistic, I’d hate for there to be a move today that screws the team tomorrow. I’m sure Portland would like to move Big Joel Pryz to a dumb owner.

    And before everyone becomes unhinged at my unrealistic/playoffs comment, lets figure out just what one would be asking: To play significantly better than Phoenix, Memphis, and San Diego while hoping that Portland the #8 team with a several-game cushion also stops playing well. Sorry, that combination is not likely to happen, and ALL OF IT IS OUT OF THE WARRIORS CONTROL, team, GM, Lacob, etc. The most they can control is to play well enough to win the games they play. Lately they have done that even in games they have narrowly lost to better squads. That is all they can do and for me, along with an entertaining style of play, it is enough. Those who look at the ‘Playoffs’ as being the end-all-be-all of their own personal happiness would do well to daydream about being in the East where as of today they would be in 7th.

  16. Toss in Houston as well, a very tough team, a very rough road. And to answer an earlier question, feltbot, I don’t know why Matthews is a yo-yo. When he’s off, Batum is usually on. You had to be happy with his 28 points last night. I’d love to have him on the Warriors.

  17. One thing that struck me about the interview is how distant Lacob is from Smart’s coaching. Lacob is looking from afar and only at results, perhaps in a mood to be surprised, but he has high and most likely unrealistic expectations. Smart is at sea and going it alone. I’ve been critical of Smart, but it’s an impossible situation. I’ve been trying to think of characters from plays or novels to compare him with. Captain Queeg is unfair, but I kind of wanted to go that way today.

    Another is that everyone is interim, under review, from the ticket taker to the whole roster to the front office. This, I suppose, makes sense. Also, if he hasn’t made dramatic changes in coaching, the roster, the FO, it’s probably because he didn’t have enough time. More likely he has looked there just haven’t been any good people available. At least he didn’t do what the Russian owner in NY, the spelling of whose name I’m too lazy to look up, did, gut the team, put in a fresh coach with nobody to coach, and gamble on landing a super star and losing.

    What he has not said, and I suppose he can’t yet given the above, is that he is looking for the mind closest to the game who will make crucial decisions and run the club and determine its direction in the future–a head coach–to whose opinions he will defer. This should be the first priority. (Here’s hoping the 49s got it right this time.)

    But if there is any potential in this particular set of players and their unique and considerable talents, anything that might be learned from their performance last year, what they can do given the right support and direction, anything from the success and experiments of Nelson–all of this has simply been ignored, for reasons that were not examined and would not stand up if they were.

    Rudderless ship.

  18. Frank, Biedrins lifetime shooting percentage is 60%, so I guess he’s a shooter too?

    OG, that last game by Mathews soothed my savage beast… It’s truly amazing how Portland has barely skipped a beat. But they have a dominant big man coming into his own, and have always done a fantastic job at finding great two-way guards.

    I disagree with your playoff forecast. I believe the Warriors, at least 1 thru 5, are better than all the teams you mention and are a FAVORITE to make the playoffs. (Don’t forget that both Portland and Denver are in sell mode. And I think the Warriors are better than New Orleans as well.) It’s going to come down to coaching, and the bench reinforcement they pick up at the trading deadline.

    Well said, rgg. How about Captain Bligh for Smart? Nah, he’s too touchy-feely. But now matter how you look at it, he’s gonna wind up off the ship.

    I will not be able to recap tonight’s game against the Kings, so this will remain an open thread for the next few days.

  19. FB–
    It’s that strawberry scene and Smart’s counting of rebounds and TOs that got me thinking about Queeg. By a nice coincidence, I watched Mutiny on the Bounty last night (the more recent version with Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson). Bligh was my next choice.

    We’re seeing some dismal story being played out here, whose ending can be predicted.

  20. We agree that Biedrins has a limited offensive game. B.Wright doesn’t. He can drive to the hole and score or get to the foul-line, has a good jump hook, can score flashing into the paint, scores inside doing reverse lay-ups, scores easily after garnering offensive rebounds, can shoot from the outside ok, and can score in the open court. He just needs more touches and plays run for him. Offensively, Biedrins can do little of things.

    So, to say that the Warriors have two non-shooters when both he and Biedrins are on the court, in my view, is just plain wrong.

    Moreover, defensively, although not strong, he can reduce the opponent’s FG%, by blocking, altering, and providing weakside help, then any other back-up the Warriors have.

    I don’t know why Smart draws up no plays for Udoh when he is on the court. Udoh can score ok. More importantly, the Warriors have little chance to make the playoffs without his interior defensive presence on the court. The Warriors chances of making the playoffs are greatly reduced by playing Biedrens and relying solely on outstanding shooting to make the play-offs, and committing a few less turnovers then our opponents.

  21. imho Frank, Udoh can shoot an elbow or baseline jumper, and Brandan Wright cannot. I’ve seen BW shoot up close and personal: it’s a knuckleball. There is no cure for that. Except the trading deadline.

    Here’s a great article on the Knicks and the corner three:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704405704576064191359383456.html?mod=wsj_share_twitter

    In this article, you might also find the reason why I believe David Lee at 5 and Vlad Rad at 4 is the Warriors best lineup.

    Bob Fitzgerald, your rebuttal?

  22. Felt, it doesn’t matter what mechanics you use in sports, it’s the results that matter (your reference to BW and his “knuckleball”). From right here in the good old Bay Area, past and present, come two great examples. Tim Lincecum has the quirkiest delivery in MLB, maybe ever. And did you ever watch Timmy Hardaway shoot the BB “up close and personal”? I’m with Frank, I think BW can be an effective scorer anywhere from 15 ft in.

  23. Whew. Anyone else think Keith Smart did every single thing he could to blow this game? And then to top it off, having Monta run the clock with the Warriors down 2. Seriously, does Smart need to relearn everything he knows about basketball now that he’s head coach? It sure seems that way sometimes.

    If I were the owner of the Ws, I would have to be restrained by my signficant others from doing something stupid. Fortunately he’s coaching a roster that is simply too talented to lose to teams like the Kings.

    Hey, one game after I wrote, “If Stephen Curry got 28 shots, he would put up 36 points too. Maybe more.” — he put up 34 on 21 shots. Ahem. Pat, pat.

    Re Brandan Wright. One game after his cameo re-aroused the interest of some (valued) board members, Brandan Wright was again given a chance, this time at power forward, with Vlad Rad at three, in a completely inexplicable Keith Smart 4th Q move. What happened? Well, first VR gave up a 3 to Casspi. Par. Then it was BW’s chance to shine. He was given the ball at the right elbow, in a position in which he will never, ever, be able to get anything done. He cannot shoot that shot. Period. So he drove left, which is all he’s capable of doing, and charged or turned it over, I can’t remember which. And then on defense, he promptly lost his man, Landry, under the basket for a layup. This is something that BW lovers always miss about him. He cannot remember his rotations when playing 4. Ever. His only hope on defense is to be parked under the basket at 5. BW’s line? -10. That’s all you need to know about him at PF.

    Are the Warriors attempting to showcase him pre trade deadline? If so, may I suggest they reserve the showcase to the first half, and to playing him at center? The idea is to FOOL other GMs, not confirm their worst fears.

    Re Monta’s ankle: If the twitter traffic can be believed, it’s a sprain and not believed to be too serious. Monta joking around after the game.

  24. Felt, BW played a whole 3 minutes in this game. So what else is new? This guy is finally healthy, PLAY THE DUDE SOME MINUTES! Let’s, or should I say, let ME see what he can or can’t do so I’ll either be elated or devastated when he’s packaged in whatever upcoming trade the Warriors are going to be making. At least give me the satisfaction of cementing my emotions, please!

    The one thing that drove me crazy about Nelli was his impatience with most younger players. He got a hair up his rear everytime Bellineli made a mistake and wound up giving away a decent bench player for next-to-nothing. I said in my grading of the Warriors on MT’s site that I’d rather have kept CJ Watson over Reggie Williams. Well, Bellineli is another name you can throw into that conversation. I’d LOVE to still have Marco B on this team as a backup 1 or 2. And now BW is hardly if ever breaking a sweat in these games. How many years has he been a Warrior? And what are his TOTAL NBA minutes? And how old is he? The quick answer to those 3 questions are not many, not many, and not very. What this kid needs for the long haul is to gain weight and strength, and that’ll happen to a certain degree in time, as in getting older. Bodywise, what did P Gasol look like when he was BW’s age? Not saying Wright will mirror in any way Gasol as a BB player, but he will get “bigger” as he ages.

    Bottom line, I think he’s got some skills that would help this team in the future, but he needs to play, and play through his mistakes, at least for awhile. For better or worse, it looks like he’s on the same path as Bellineli was, and that path is headed out of the Bay.

  25. Just another example of how the media, in this case the national media, can twist and add words to meet their every needs. I will say that Lacob is largely at fault here, since he went overboard, IMO, in those two interviews with Kawakami and Steinmetz. WAY too detailed! Nevertheless, the following podcast gives new meaning to the word “paraphrasing”.

    On Friday’s PTI show (ESPN), Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon played “Beat the Odds”, using the Lacob interview and Steph Curry as one of their topics. Make sure you’ve read Lacob’s comments about Monta and Curry before listening. I really feel sorry for Curry, for obvious reasons.

    The aforementioned segment is fairly brief, and comes approximately 3/4′s of the way through their show. http://c.espnradio.com/audio/498795/pti_2011-01-21-185735.mp3

  26. Ahhh…this is a nice interview to wake up to. Monta seems fine.

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/pages/warriorsvideo?PID=CVkUohF3CdAW97Dnbz4KjJ7q6xp7asS6

  27. Actually you need to click on the interview from last night.

  28. FB–

    Post game, Smart said he let Monta make the decision on the last shot and I won’t argue this time: he let the players decide what felt right instead of being a puppet master working the strings. More of this might be going on than we realize (a few more behind-the-backs from Curry!).

    I’m in a mood to ease up on Smart today. His situation is too damn difficult. Lacob made it clear that he is only interested in wins, not in giving a new coach and an essentially new team time and space to grow and develop in their first year. One obvious result is that Smart is relying more and more on Ellis, which may wear Ellis out and stunting the growth of the team. Smart has to think about each night, rather than the season or the future of the franchise. (I’m sure Ellis insists he can go 40 every night.) This is Lacob’s fault. It’s hard to believe this pressure hasn’t influenced the team as well, tightening them up, perhaps accounting for some of their lapses.

    At least Curry and/or Ellis were on the floor the whole game. In spite of all, I suspect the game could have been concluded early simply if Monta came in fresh 4th. quarter. They have the material for a unit Curry could run to give Ellis a break and keep the team’s energy. We saw Curry do it last year with D-Leaguers, Ellis out. (Anybody remember?) And this unit should be judged by its ability to keep scoring, close/build leads, not its defensive look.

    Steve–

    That interview is sick (it basically said the backcourt can’t work and it’s time to ship Curry, based on Lacob’s interview). Lacob simply made a blanket statement he was keeping all options open, though I debate the wisdom of doing so. Sheesh, listen to the talk now: the face of the franchise has become trade fodder. But public opinion can have a powerful influence. We saw the same thing happen to Nelson–and Lacob bought into it.

    But to state the obvious:

    1. Assumed in the interview is that the defensive limitations of the backcourt is the team’s most serious weakness, both in defense and overall.

    2. Also assumed is that these perceived weaknesses in defense are more important than the real strengths Ellis and Curry give (or could, given the chance) on offense.

    3. Assumed is that they are the main problem of the defense. Ignored is the play of the other players, especially the center and our weak front court subs.

    4. Also ignored are Curry’s injuries, which has kept him out a substantial part of the season and limited him when in. Lee’s injury hurt as well, as it influenced the back court’s performance.

    5. Ignored is Smart’s recent curtailing of Curry’s minutes and shooting, which I suspect have nothing to do with his ankle. (And all anyone is looking at is Curry’s performance of the last few weeks. Public opinion has no memory.)

    6. And ignored are the team’s major liabilities, offense and defense. We have a center who performance is uneven and is still considered a project. But for Vlad’s recent surprising performance, the team has had very weak subs in the front court.

    The test for Lacob is whether or not he can accurately assess what the real problems are, whether or not he buys into such preconceived notions and the force of casual public opinion. The evidence from him on Nelson is not good.

    But, except for the injuries, Lacob has to realize he bears responsibility for the problems above, especially in not making the moves to give the team a decent backup point guard at the start of the season or much presence on the front court, aside from Lee. Not only did he hold the purse strings and influence certain trades, he also didn’t recognize the deficiencies at the start and push Riley to do something about it.

    Sick, sick, sick.

  29. Good Ellis interview here, if anyone missed it at Yahoo:

    http://www.thepostgame.com/interviews/201101/monta-ellis-i-let-my-game-speak-itself

    Note this reply on his reaction to the Curry selection last year:

    “Like I told Steph this summer when I talked to him, what was said had nothing to do with him. I didn’t know him as a person, a basketball player, none of that. I was going off of what was told to me. It was out of anger and frustration. I was told we weren’t drafting a guard. Than on draft night we draft him. It was a miscommunication on our part, me being stubborn. I really didn’t want to accept the fact that I was lied to. They sent a lot of mixed signals to me. They say this is my team and your building the team around me than you draft a guard that you say we weren’t going to draft. There were a lot of mixed signals. But I went home this summer and evaluated myself. For me to change my environment and the situation meant I needed to change myself first. That’s what I did.”

  30. You know, one of the raps on Monta has always been a lack of intelligence. I have been thinking about writing something on that subject, because I believe he is extraordinarily intelligent. Not joking. Extraordinarily intelligent. I think his dialect, his lack of college education, and perhaps some inferiority complex regarding his speaking ability have masked that before now.

    But when I read speeches like the one rgg just posted, I am confirmed in my belief.

  31. Ellis also has a very rare talent that we interpret the wrong way — he knows how and when to keep quiet.

  32. Spread for tonight is Warriors +8. Monta playing or not?

  33. Those bookies make it tantalizing, don’t they? I’d stay away, GM. Road back to back with SA looming, Monta will probably be held out. But even if he’s not… don’t forget this is a big-time revenge game for the Clips, against an 8th seed rival. Real tough game to handicap.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing Monta sit this game, if only to see Curry take over once again. Free Stephen Curry!

  34. Thanks. Right as usual.

  35. FB –

    I can’t find it, but it’s worth the trouble. Steinmetz wrote an excellent piece at CSN (one of few) on Monta some time last year, trying to put himself in his shoes. Imagine how Ellis felt about all the attention given to Curry last year, the new “face of the franchise.” Steinmetz tries to do this.

    Not a peep from Ellis. This takes guts and judgment.

  36. Riley weighs in, 20 hours ago (SF Gate):

    Riley said the production of guards Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry outweighs their defensive inefficiencies. The duo is the top scoring backcourt in the league and each ranks among the top five in steals, but they often are at a height and/or strength disadvantage.

    “We’re not lockdown defenders,” Riley said. “We’re often going to be confronted with a mismatch at the guard spots, and that’s where our team concepts have to come in.”

    (I tried to post this earlier with the link, but it didn’t go through. ????)

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