No Style for Young Men: Nets 94 Warriors 90

You’re exactly right, dear reader, there is simply no way that this Nets team, featuring the Lopezasaurus, Sasha Vujacic and Anthony Morrow should have been able to hold the Warriors to 90 points. Don Nelson would have put up 120 points against this slow as molasses and completely out-classed lineup with his eyes half shut.                                                                          

Keith Smart is a perfect example of the talentless coach — that unfortunately abound in the NBA — who has imprinted in his mind a “right way” to play, and thus frequently loses sight of the forest for the trees. His analysis of this game will no doubt be: “We didn’t rebound well enough, we didn’t have the right intensity, we had some defensive lapses, we didn’t execute, we had some crucial fourth quarter turnovers, blah, blah, blahdeblahblah…”

Nonsense. Garbage. None of that had anything to do with why this game was lost.  This game was lost by the coach. It was lost before the game even started. It was lost with the game plan.

I’ve been over this territory many times before, so I’ll keep it brief. You guard Lopez 1 on 1, with Biedrins to start, then Lee, then Udoh. Front him and deny the ball. No matter what happens, don’t foul. Every single time he dunks, you take the ball out of the basket, and you run it back up the floor and play 5 on 4. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Every time they go somewhere else and make the shot, you take the ball out of the basket, and you run it back up the floor and play 5 on 4. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Every time you get a rebound, you run it back up the floor and play 5 on 4. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Every time you steal the ball, you… uh huh.

On the RARE occasions that you do find yourself playing half-court offense, you do it with Vlad Rad, or Al Thornton or DWright at the 4, pulling Kris Humphries out to the three point line.

LEAVING THE LOPEZASAURUS ALL BY HIMSELF ON AN ISLAND IN THE MIDDLE. How do you like his chances against Monta Ellis’ drives now? How do you like his chances of staying out of foul trouble?

How do you like his chances to keep up with this pace?  The over/under of centers of his type against Don Nelson was about 20 minutes.

How do you like Kris Humphries’ ability to guard Vlad Rad, AT and DWright in a running game? Do you like him getting 15 rebounds while guarding at the three point line?

How do you like Anthony Morrow’s ability to guard ANYONE in a running game? Do you like his chances to get open shots if you don’t double team the Lopezasaurus?

For the umpteenth time this season, Keith Smart executed the opposing coach’s game plan to perfection. Disgraceful.

But where does the blame ultimately lie?  With him, or with Joe Lacob?

18 Responses to No Style for Young Men: Nets 94 Warriors 90

  1. Austinhbell

    Felty—I agree with your assessment of this game, but I think you have been on Joe Lacob a bit too hard. I agree that his decision to not pursue a big guard out of the D-League is perplexing at best, but I don’t think you can pin this on him to say he doesn’t care about the team and its success. His decisions that you are criticizing like this one are micro in nature, and I find it difficult to buy your strong assessments of his performance so early in his tenure. I certainly condone skepticism regarding these decisions, but I think it is unfair to write off an owner 4 months into his tenure–especially one that has just inherited a franchise that has been in the lottery 16 out of the last 17 years.

    Keith Smart is not a great coach. He has demonstrated this time and time again this season, tonight especially. Joe Lacob had a difficult decision to make regarding the coaching situation at the beginning of the year–stay with a proven, yet lame duck coach whose general motivation was questionable but tactics and expertise sound, or do a trial run of another coach that would be more popular with the players and give the team a different product. Had Joe Lacob made the decision to replace Nellie with Smart under different circumstances, or if he had given him a longer contract, I would say he shoulders more of the blame. I know you write your criticism from the standpoint of how Nellie would do things better, and I agree, but I think that having Nellie around for only this season would put the Warriors in a precarious situation, and hiring Smart was a way to avoid that and not delay the Warriors’ future. By giving up a potentially good year with Nellie, they might have missed out on a playoff appearance, but they will probably get one a year sooner that they would have had they kept him.

    To disclaim–I am as huge of a Smart hater as you are. The way he treats Steph, and hands the keys to Monta instead (unlike Nellie did), is absolutely deplorable.

  2. Austin — I am not in the camp that has written Lacob off as an owner. I am in the camp that believes he intentionally tanked this season. And I am not in the mood to forgive that.

    The last sentence of my post was not intended to bring up Lacob’s personnel decisions again. It was intended to ask whether the ridiculous style of basketball we see the Warriors playing comes straight from the mind of Keith Smart, or is dictated from above by Lacob.

  3. Or is Smart trying to please Lacob, or do what he thinks Lacob wants, but isn’t given any clear direction? I wonder if Lacob has given Smart any kind of definite feedback as to what might constitute a successful season–a set number of wins? Or has he put Smart on a I’ll figure it out as we go along? I haven’t read anything definite on Lacob and Smart, but it’s an impossible situation. If I’m right, Smart is in a position to have to be conservative, like bottom teams in the first round of the college conference tournaments, and do whatever it takes to win each night–or else.

    Or is Smart just doing what makes sense to him? Tonight was dismal. He could have got Thronton and Reggie and the rest of the offense going–he has the pieces now–and Curry and Ellis could have picked their spots. 30 minutes for Curry again, again coming back in the last 7 minutes. And instead of entering the game with momentum, there was no offensive rhythm and the game rested on half court sets with Monta and Curry taking over and bogging down.

    Curry could run all night and have the team run with him.

    I don’t know if I can watch another game like this.

  4. Smarts contant hammering Curry, and NEVER saying anything to Monta makes me SICK.
    Tonight Monta makes a huge mistake, and the camera shows Smart with a smile on his face. If Curry did that he would have run on the floor and tackled him. FIRE SMART

  5. warriorsablaze

    I have never been so confused and angry towards a coach in my entire life. While the roster has obvious holes still, this has to be the most under-performing team in the NBA when comparing talent to results.

    Other than Monta, Law, and Radman…. the rest of the team must secretly hate Smart as a coach, right? Even if they like him as a “nice guy”. I only wish we had a Baron or SJax on the team who would have the balls to openly question WTF Smart is doing out there. His stifling of Curry’s development is borderline criminal.

  6. From the Yahoo recap:

    “We didn’t play smart basketball down the stretch,” Warriors coach Keith Smart said. “We had a chance to walk away with this game and unfortunately we didn’t. Stephen Curry is a young player and he is going to grow and become a better player. He will learn and manage these situations better. Point guard is the toughest position in the world because every player wants the ball. Every situation you have the ball is critical.”

    Walk away with the game — they should have run away with this game. The score shouldn’t even have been close.

    It’s Curry’s fault. . . .

  7. warriorsablaze

    Wow. Throwing Curry under the bus. Pathetic.

  8. FromWayDowntown

    This was the final nail in the coffin for any empathy I felt for Smart. This is despicable. I really hope he doesn’t damage Curry’s career or makes him leave.

  9. This season has become a joke. The worst part? It is not even fun any more. I am content supporting a lovable loser that gives it all they have every night – but a miserable underachiever? Not for me. Last years season ending run was exhilarating, but seems like a lifetime ago now.

    I don’t care to play detective and figure out who is to blame, I just wish it would all go away. And fast.

    Part of me wishes that Steph did get traded so I could have a new team to root for. It is getting that dire.

  10. I don’t think Keith Smart realizes what he has in Curry. He is only a 2nd year player and IMO the best 2nd year player in the league. If Smart was smart he would be encouraging him. I think he only does it because Steph is not a boisterous and outspoken guy…

  11. Instead of bringing a winning culture to the Warriors, Lacob has fostered an environment of indecision, caution, uncertainty–and failure. He has done nothing to help the team grow this year or prepare it for the future. We have nothing to look forward to other than his magical franchise player and whatever succession of misguided coaches he runs through in the next years, who will somehow fit his dim conception of the game and who, because of Lacob’s lack of vision, are doomed to fail. The only way for the Warriors to start winning now is to get awfully lucky.

    It is more than apparent that Lacob had no conception of what the strengths of the team were when he bought the franchise, that he didn’t recognize its unique (and odd) talents. It’s not even apparent that he paid much attention to the games the last year. Even halfway through this season he contemplated breaking his backcourt up.

    And—I’m not tired of repeating what many of us have said before—firing Nelson, from a basketball point of view, with the future of the franchise in mind, was a huge and stupid mistake. It is utterly certain that Nelson’s record would have been no worse at this point. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch at all to say we might have been thinking about playoffs at this point–we’re only talking about a 6 or 7 game swing.

    But more important than the record, it’s what Nelson might have done for the future. The team finally got a capable and committed player in the front court, Lee. Ellis came back this season willing and determined to make things work. Curry showed so much potential last year that could have been developed–who knows how far?

    If anybody could have developed the potential of Curry and Ellis, it’s Nelson. Instead we have a coach and offense that divides them and separates them from what they might accomplish with the whole team.

    Nelson would have found a handful of minor pieces to bolster the bench and develop them for the coming year. And he would have further developed the potential of the pieces he found last year, Tolliver and Reggie. Look at what he got those guys to do in only a few weeks.

    Nelson would have left with a team confident in its potential for the coming season. Instead, they are confused, frustrated, and uncertain.

    And Nelson would have presented Lacob with a team with solid possibilities so he could make an intelligent decision as how to improve it further when he did put up the bucks for some big player.

    How dumb is Lacob?

    Somebody else count the ways.

  12. Amen, rgg. I have never understood the common opinion that Nelson was “the wrong guy to coach this team” for the future. He could have left them with a blueprint, and confidence.

  13. Nice work Felty. Every Warriors season I watch a game that is so horrid that my mind tells me to just stop caring out of self defense. This was it. The NJ Nets without their franchise player. I will give Lacob this though, I usually hit this point far earlier in the season so at least I got to enjoy more of the season.

    And this is absolutely Lacob’s fault. Absolutely. Nellie would have done wonders with this team. Imagine if we had kept Tolliver and we trotted out a Lee, tolliver, Wright, Monta, Curry lineup. Imagine what Nellie would have done with Thorton at the 4 spot. Imagine imagine. We finally got a great roster to run and gun and we (characteristically) go and do the exact wrong thing in trying to slow the game down.

    You can’t play good, traditional, halfcourt defense with Monta, Curry and Lee. They simply aren’t good enough defenders to play that style. Any self respecting basketball fan would know this. Lacob on the other hand, decided to get traditional and retained Smart and imposed that boring style on a team unfit to play it. He takes the blame for this one.

    Either he wakes up and hires a coach more like Nellie, or he moves all of our best pieces to get defenders….somehow I get the feeling he will do neither.

  14. Great observations re Smart and Curry on this thread. Really, some Class A Basketball input from all involved.

  15. does lacob comprehend what he is watching and hearing, that is the question…. at least two of the close fourth quarter losses this trip are directly attributable to smart’s blunders but he still has that brash underdog chutzpah to scream at his players for mistakes and finger point in the post game vent.

    smart deflated his team in many ways last night, preparing them to fail even while winning the Cle game : with back to backs, the coach is supposed to balance the two games and only expend/exhaust his players in the first if he wants to write off the second as a ‘scheduled L’. his starting backcourt instead got long minutes while williams played < 4 ! result, ellis gets out played by morrow on both ends the following night. smart shows little understanding of the basic stuff like how to give his starters a breather : when he rests lee in the fourth he waits until one minute into the period instead of making use of the break between quarters ; he also failed to rotate his players in and out for either shooting or defense/boards in the last four min. and OT vs. Phi. he's still clueless on how to best use williams, watching him catch fire in the first half in NJ yet freezing him out in the second. williams got in for a mere 3 min with ø shot attempts to start the fourth, but gets rushed in to close the game when the coach needs a shooter.

    smart is fortunate to have a roster of polite and responsible gentlemen who have yet to show him up when it's obvious they know they've been hindered. the players who commented post game assumed a collective responsibility, in contrast to the coach who singled out his second year guard with whom he's made a special effort to confound. the vet leader lee in fact made two ball control errors as costly as any of curry's, on the long outlet pass directly to the opponent, and on the shot clock violation when he passed up a six footer and expected udoh to know the exigency. smart then lost his self control and started screaming — how about showing calm under pressure ?

  16. This was a deplorable loss that belongs to Smart. For many reasons that I’m too disgusted and tired to list. He’s just not a good head coach. He’s a
    perfect assistant. He is hard working, liked by the players, good communicator and a perfect go between from player to head coach. However, he’s a lousy strategist and is not capable of making in game adjustments. Hence, he gets out couched consistently. Now that the pressure of keeping his job is on he’s starting to become a loose cannon.

  17. geraldmcgrew

    Thanks, rgg. Couldn’t say it better.

    Lacob hired a coach, will hire more, and will hire a new GM or POBO. The coach this year should have been Nelson, after which Nelson should have moved upstairs when he (Nelson) knew the time was right. For now obvious reasons, which fb and others here have laid out, there was no way Lacob was going to choose that path.

    My line in the sand this year was 42 wins. I have little doubt Nellie would have achieved that and more. And, as stated above, the way he would have developed these players would have paid huge dividends in the future.

  18. I’ll be attending tonight’s game, so no recap. This lugubrious thread will remain open.