Another lucky win, in a game that should have been a blowout. Why does it feel like the Warriors are stealing games when they win at home? Because they are stealing them. Stripped of the strictures of their coach by the desperation of the situation, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry are stealing wins for the Warriors in crunch time.
And they just may be saving the skin of their coach every time they do it.
Keith Smart: Are you scratching your head, wondering how in the world Ersan Ilyasova and Prince MBam outrebounded Andris Biedrins and David Lee 32-14? How a team whose tallest player was 6-9″ outrebounded the Warriors 49-36?
Are you tempted to blame Biedrins and Lee? Well, don’t. It wasn’t their fault. It was the fault of their coach, Keith Smart.
Biedrins and Lee were outrebounded because Scott Skiles, borrowing a page from Don Nelson, pulled them all the way out of the lane. He started Ilyasova at center, knowing that Biedrins had no prayer of guarding him out on the floor. Biedrins was of absolutely no use in the half-court defense, as Ilyasova shot over him at will, going 6-7 for 15 points in the first quarter. And Biedrins was nowhere near the basket when the other Bucks missed. He was out in no-man’s land.
With the Warriors spread out all over the floor, and their big men nowhere near the paint, the Bucks were able to use their quickness advantage to steal boards. Ilyasova and MBam had 16 offensive rebounds in this game. 16.
That’s on Keith Smart. This was the worst-coached game I’ve seen since Phil Jackson blew the 2008 finals.
Vlad Rad: If you’re wondering what Smart should have done differently, just take a look at Ersan Ilyasova’s line in the fourth quarter, which was played with a frontline of Lee at center, Vlad Rad and Dorell Wright. 0-3 for 0 points.
Take a look at Vlad Rad’s +9. As I’ve been saying all season long, that is no accident. Vlad and DWright alternated on guarding Ilyasova and Maggette, and shut Ilyasova down. Shouldn’t this have been obvious to Smart at the start of the game?
And Monta Ellis’ drive, which had been all but shut down for three quarters? It came alive in crunch time. Because Vlad Rad was spreading the floor. Shouldn’t this have been obvious beforehand to the man who coached the Warriors to a 72 point performance in Milwaukee earlier this season?
Of course, when it finally occurred to Smart to make his fourth quarter adjustment (with the game, and possibly his career, flashing before his eyes), the brilliant Scott Skiles immediately changed his point of attack to Corey Maggette. And that just might have gotten the Bucks a much-deserved win.
If the two best players on the floor hadn’t stolen it back.
Zone Defense: Just a thought, but if you’re going to insist on giving Andris Biedrins 27 minutes matched up against a 6-9″ three-point shooting SF/PF, wouldn’t you consider using a zone defense to keep him close to the basket?
On Weapons and Targets: This is going to be a new feature of my posts going forward, as I struggle with finding new ways to put into words just how bad an NBA coach Keith Smart can be.
Unless you are blessed with billion dollar all-star teams like Phil Jackson, coaching in the NBA — at least as performed at the highest level, by coaches like Pop, Karl, Adelman, Gentry, D’Antoni and Skiles — is all about matchups. Matching up styles, and matching up players.
The goal is to turn your players into Weapons, and to avoid having the other coach turn your players into Targets.
Let’s see if I can communicate my meaning by listing some examples from history and basketball games.
- Armored knights against conscripted armies of peasants: Weapons.
- Armored knights against barefoot longbowmen at the Battle of Agincourt: Targets.
- The Maginot Line against World War I-style trench warfare: Weapon.
- The Maginot Line against the Nazi Blitzkrieg: Target.
- The United States military against regular forces: Weapon.
- The United States military against irregular guerrillas: Target.
- Steve Nash in a running offense (under Nelson and D’Antoni and Gentry): Weapon.
- Steve Nash in a walk-it-up Shaq-lardened offense (under Porter): Target.
- Dirk Nowitzki against the rest of the league: Weapon.
- Dirk Nowitzki against the genius of Don Nelson: Target.
- The 2007 Andris Biedrins against Fat Shaq: Weapon.
- The 2011 Andris Biedrins against Al Jefferson: Weapon.
- The 2011 Andris Biedrins against Ersan Ilyasova: Target.
- Andris Biedrins on the move in a running offense against bigger players: Weapon.
- Andris Biedrins posting up in a walk-it-up offense against smaller players: Target.
- Coach Keith Smart against Coach Scott Skiles: Target.
Other Random Thoughts:
Why the Warriors should be the fastest team end-to-end in the NBA: This is going to be another new and recurring feature of this blog.
Tonight’s exhibit: Stephen Curry’s 60-foot lob alley oop to DWright at 3:26 1Q.
Bob Fitzgerald’s Special Moment: And, regretfully, this is going to be the third new and recurring feature of this blog. At this point, I simply have no choice.
At 3:20 of the 4Q, when Stephen Curry missed a runner in the lane, Bob saw fit to inform us that Curry should have used glass, or dumped it off to David Lee.
At that moment, I heard my beloved grandfather’s voice in my ear: “Oy Vey!”
Stephen Curry: I have a friend who is a workout and health fiend. He even feeds his cats health food, which led me to dub his home “cat hell.”
The media (and a lot of fans) have made a lot of noise about Curry’s silly TO’s. And a lot of them look pretty bad. But I (along with blog friend rgg) have a different take on them. I think they have a lot to do with the system Keith Smart is running, and the players he runs it with. When the Warriors walk the ball up the court and run plays with Biedrins on the floor, there is frequently nothing open. First, because the other team has time to set its defense, and second, because Biedrins is left unguarded and the Warriors are playing 4 on 5.
And third, because the smarter opposing coaches — like Scott Skiles in this game — are simply reading Keith Smart’s mail.
Here’s something to contemplate: Before this game, the Warriors were averaging 15.4 turnovers this season, with a veteran lineup. Last season, with Don Nelson coaching a skeleton crew of rookies and D-leaguers at break-neck speed, the Warriors averaged 14.7 turnovers. What do you make of this? Is Stephen Curry completely to blame for the Warriors’ turnover problems?
As rgg astutely noted in the previous thread, when Stephen Curry got the ball on the break with the game on the line at 1:50 of the 4Q, Keith Smart was screaming “SLOW DOWN!” from the sidelines. Smart wanted to nurse a 4 point lead and run clock against a great half-court defense with an eternity left in the game.
Thankfully, Curry ignored him and found a streaking Monta Ellis for an uncontested dunk.
I’ve been all over the map with Keith Smart this season. I’ve been up and I’ve been down. I think I’ve seen the lightbulb go on, and then I see the circuit break. Right now, I’m back in my darkened living room, nursing my snifter of Lagavulin, giving in to blackest despair.
Keith Smart does not understand the strengths and weaknesses of this basketball team. Keith Smart does not understand how to play matchups. Keith Smart does not understand how to unleash the phenomenal talent of his players.
Keith Smart does not trust his players.
Stephen Curry is in cat hell.