Attention Joe Lacob: The Lesson of the 2011 NBA Finals

Gone Fishin’.

Can’t believe that I’m going to be missing two (one?) of the most dramatic games in Finals history… but c’est la vie. One does not live by basketball alone, as the Thaiblonde will attest.

One of the more intriguing aspects of these Finals is that both of these teams are playing Nellieball. In particular the Mavs, who are built almost exactly like the 2003 team that Nellie might have won a title with, if Dirk hadn’t gotten injured in the Conference Finals. That team featured Nash and Van Exel in the backcourt along with Finley, and Bradley and Lafrentz at the 5 next to Dirk. In addition to Finley, Nellie had 4 quintessential Nellieball defensive wings at his disposal: Bell, Griffin, Abdul-Wahad and Najera.                     

The Heat took their true centers off the roster after the Celtic series, going with the 6-9″ Joel Anthony and Chris Bosh at the 5. Their next biggest player is Lebron… he outweighs Haslem by 15 lbs.!

Perplexingly, I think the Mavs have done the far better job of pushing the tempo. I don’t understand why the Heat, with their opencourt advantage, aren’t running more. They did it so well when they took apart the Lakers in midseason.

I truly hope that Joe Lacob is having his eyes opened by this series. Does either of these teams have a low post player? No. What they have are superstar closers, great passing, great three point shooting, spread fours, and an admixture of superlative TWO-WAY defensive pieces.

The takeaway from this series if I’m the Warriors GM is that Monta Ellis MUST BE KEPT. Superstar closers are the rarest commodity in this league. By contrast, defensive wings like Andre Iguodala are a dime a dozen. Witness DeShawn Stevenson: how much did he cost the Mavs? How much did Tony Allen, Shane Battier, Sam Young cost the Grizzlies? How much did Matt Barnes cost the Lakers? How much did Sefalosha cost, or Afflalo, or Batum?

The difference between these fine defensive players and Andre Iguodala is that most of them can shoot the three. And NONE of them believes they are a closer, which if you ask Philly management and Philly fans is Iguodala’s fatal flaw. These players know they are role players.

If I am Warriors management I open up the purse strings all the way in order to lure Nene or Gasol or Chandler to the Warriors. Then I dump Lacob’s pet bench players and pick up a handful of players like I listed above. Defensive role players who can actually hit a three and make a free throw (Iggy 69%). I surround the Ellis-Curry-Lee core with these players, just like Dallas has surrounded Dirk-Kidd-Terry-Barea.

And then I sit back and watch the Warriors start contending.

19 Responses to Attention Joe Lacob: The Lesson of the 2011 NBA Finals

  1. geraldmcgrew

    Good plan. …Again.
    Further demonstration of how the aforementioned staggered screen may be the key to the finals, from NBAPlaybook:
    http://nbaplaybook.com/?p=14985#more-14985

  2. feltbot,

    I liked your last post. But this post, you are off any many things. First all, Mavs starting Dirk, Shawn marion and Tyson Chandler and most games started Deshawn Stevenson. Don’t see any small ball in that line up. Second of all, Udonis Haslem is a PF, yes a small PF but he is a PF. It is not same as playing Corey Magette or Stephen Jackson as PF. All the teams play small ball including Spurs and OKC this year in stretches and depending on situation down the stretch too.

    Also, if we can clone Kidd, we can start Kidd with either of Monta or Curry and bring the other guy off bench and we will have a successful backcourt. Also, I don’t think anyone desperate to trade Monta, Monta is not like a cancer or anything but Monta is the only player who seemed and could net Ws a player to improve team overall.

    And you are right, if Dirk not injured Nellie would have won championship that year and if Robert horry didn’t hip checked on Nash, Suns would have won also. Small ball can win but you still need the guys who can rebound(not corey magette or Jackson worst rebounders even for SFs) and Nellie didn’t put much emphasis on rebounding.

  3. When did Monta become a closer?
    He had the ball in his hand for the last 3 mins in the game ALMOST EVERY GAME this year.

    What’s his record this year? What’s his record for the last 3 yrs and also our record that we have him as the goto guy?

    And you are comparing AI9 to just Tony Allen and Battier?
    If that’s the case, I think Lou Williams is the same player as Monta Ellis if you want to exaggerate.

    Btw both teams in the final are not playing Neillie ball because there is NO D in Nellie ball.

  4. BW, please note I did not say small ball. I said Nellieball. The 2003 Mavs, and in fact all the Mav teams that Nellie fielded, were not small ball teams in the way that these Warriors were, by necessity.

    Thanks everyone for the great discussion in the last couple of threads. Sorry to be bailing in the midst of these fascinating finals and Warriors moves. Hope you guys will fill in the gaps for me while I’m gone.

  5. Btw Kidd was the main reason why Dallas backcourt works.
    He can guard PG to SF (wade/Lebron) just fine even at his 38 years old.
    He is not small at all and plays much bigger than his statue.

    If it’s Nellie coaching, Nellie probably will ask him to play PF since he can rebound too.

  6. Update on Feltbot’s fishing trip:

  7. As a floor general, Jason Kidd is possibly the slowest, most deliberate player in the NBA. As a defender he’s like some kind of slow-motion Tai Chi master, helping to completely shut down the Lakers’ frontcourt and containing Wade as well as anyone can. That sure doesn’t sound like a Nellieball player, and Kidd is essential to the Mavs.

    In addition, yes, it’s true that on the way to the finals both the Mavs and the Heat easily handled teams who prefer a slower pace. The Lakers and Celtics may never be the same in the future. But I don’t know if that’s evidence for Nellieball or if it simply means there aren’t any competitive slow-ball teams in the league today. Plug in a new young Wilt or Shaq somewhere and we’ll be treated to stories about the new up-and-coming monsterball era again. Or just give the Lakers a more clever, flexible coach.

    Re Monta, it seems self-evident that a player who can create a good shot under almost any circumstances is extremely rare and not to be messed with. I was relieved to hear Mark Jackson say as much. It really is hard to imagine the Warriors trading away Monta’s 20-40 ppg for Iggy’s 16pt and better D. They even get about the same number of rebounds.

    The dubs have deep trouble in their roster, but trading a gem for lots of lumber seems like a draw at best. Good teams need both. Warriors fans have seen the team trade away home-grown talent many times to fill short-term needs, usually for size, and it has NEVER improved the team. It would be nice to see them break that pattern, and add the necessary lumber without sacrificing a go-to guy. That’s far easier than luring bigtime players from other teams.

    Have a great trip, Feltie.

  8. Postgame, they were talking about the problems Miami had with the zone defense. Reggie Williams was there and said they should have put Jones in for his shooting to spread the defense.

    Where did he get that idea?

    Was it Jackson or Van Gundy who said one possession Miami passed up 6 open shots so someone could drive the bucket?

    Hurry back, FB, watch the replay, and tell us what we just saw.

  9. Congratulations to the Dallas Mavericks, a team truly deserving of the title “NBA Champions”. They outplayed Miami whenever it mattered the most, which is another way of saying that the Heat couldn’t take the heat of the NBA Finals and all that was riding on the ultimate outcome. But Dallas was also the better TEAM, similar to what we saw last year here in the Bay Area when the Giants vanquished the “big boys” of Philly and Texas and won the WS.

    Also congrats to Dirk Nowitzki, a great player whose professional humility is so refreshing in this day and age of overpaid egomaniacal pro athletes.

    And congratulations to Donnie Nelson, who now can flash a championship ring in front of his old man instead of the other way around, as well as kudos to Mark Cuban for keeping Donnie when he easily could have shown him the door when his relationship with Nelli ended so bitterly.

    The only disappointing thing about all this is that I don’t bet on sports. Ah, but did I tell you about this horse in the 5th on Thursday? :)

  10. Alright, classmates, listen up. Our “word” for today, in honor of all those shocked and confused NBA prognosticators, is “flabbergasted”. Enjoy your homework.

  11. Steve, congrats. You called it, and almost right on the money:

    Steve | May 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm | Reply
    This should be a great series. Dallas has thrived thus far in the underdog role and I think that continues along with the strong performance of their bench players. Dallas in 7.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to study for an imaginary vocabulary test.

  12. Bry, you shouldn’t have done that. Now, of course, and all your fault, I have to repost my original Finals prediction from April…….

    Steve | April 14, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Reply

    “Mike and “fan”, Wright, Lee, Ellis and Curry all deserved “A” grades for their tireless efforts at trying to make this year’s team good enough for the postseason. And if Morrow, Watson and Tolliver had been part of the bench as they were last season the 2010-2011 Warriors would have been going to this season’s playoff party.

    The Warriors had easily the worst bench in the NBA to go along with an overmatched head coach and they still finished within reasonable shouting distance of .500. To give those starting 4 players anything other than an “A” would’ve been the equivalent of giving me straight “A’s” in high school spanish.

    A new coach, a new bench, and a new CBA are all hopefully right around the corner. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to watching all the intriguing matchups starting this weekend. NBA Finals predictions anyone? I’m going with Miami/Dallas. How ’bout dem apples? Buenos nachos.”

    So, take THAT, Feltbot!

    Before “insufferable” becomes the next requested “word of the day” I’d better stop now. LOL

  13. Yeah, Feltbot, take THAT!

  14. Wonder if what Riley really means is ‘ We are not shopping Ellis any longer.’

    And can any of you guys comment on the comparison he made to the Dallas small backcourt? Is it similar to what we have here with ME & SC? Or are there other issues to consider. I ask cuz I don’t know about that kinda stuff.

    Riley:
    I think you have to look at what just happened in the Finals — it seemed like Dallas played pretty small guards throughout that series with Miami and did a pretty good job of it. Our problem is not the small backcourt [of Ellis and Stephen Curry]. Our problem is defense.

    And:

    But that backcourt in Dallas was not long either. But when I mention Dallas, you have to give Jason Kidd credit, too — he’s a great defender. But they still had times when they had both J.J. Barea and Jason Terry on the floor.

  15. there are recurring comparisons between ellis and terry on the various woeyr fan sites, the notion of ellis becoming a ‘super sixth’ like the older combo guard fairly popular. usually, ellis’ fans insist he’s more talented and should do at least as well in the role.

    it’s moot who’s more talented, if it’s clear which of the two is more capable of fitting his game with a team, a normal requirement for successful players and particularly for sixth guys. ellis does one thing significantly better than terry — penetrate to the rim. terry has at least a slight edge or more in nearly everything else : perimeter shooting accuracy, long range accuracy, free throws, ball handling, play making, and not least in the context of Dal’s success against Mia, perimeter defense. the master of this site considers ellis the closer par excellence, but in counterpoint, terry’s Dal teammates have no fear when he has the ball during crunch time.

    as for barea, without qualification he’s a defensive liability. carlisle spotted a match up where barea would have a significant edge on offense and an insignificant disadvantage on defense, facing off against bibby, and as long as Mia had problems solving the zone, barea could be buffered there as well. the ellis/curry tandem might rise to a barely acceptable level of defense under the right coaches, and if their time together on the court is controlled according to the opposition.

  16. On Schlenk being promoted to assistant GM (from Steinmetz):

    “Schlenk has been credited with the Warriors’ success in recent years of finding players out of the D-League, including Kelenna Azubuike, Reggie Williams and Anthony Tolliver. Riley also has made clear over the past year that Schlenk was instrumental in the signing of free agent forward Dorell Wright, who had a breakout season for the Warriors in 2010-11.”

    I didn’t know this. Has to be a good move.

    From Steinmetz

  17. Pingback: The 2011 Dallas Mavericks: A Nellieball Champion | | Feltbot's Warriors BlogFeltbot's Warriors Blog

  18. I wouldn’t consider either team as playing “Nellieball.” We should probably clarify what such term means—undersized (i.e. playing out of position) position players exploiting match-ups at the offensive end (but getting exploited themselves at the defensive end), PF who can shoot, explosive scorers, etc.—before anything else. If this is totally wrong, let me know.

    Also, both teams could actually rebound, and they didn’t lack size (perhaps they go hand in hand). Nelly wanted to play David Lee at Center last year and Tolliver at PF. I get the Tolliver at four, but can you imagine Lee at center. Every center will drop 35 and 15 on Lee. No one in either franchise have Nelly’s philosophy in mind when building or coaching the team. And Heat aren’t built around shooters—only scorers and defenders. The Mavs aren’t built around anyone in particular. Outside of Terry and Dirk (does Peja count?) they aren’t particulary geared toward the 3 pointer in any way. Neither team pushed it relentlessly like Nelly’s teams either. Each team could get set in the halfcourt and “sack” (D) up. The Nelly’s warriors could never do that.