In my last post I called the bottom of the Warriors season. For this game at least, my prediction appears correct. This Warriors team is way too talented to lose games the way they have been. What they have needed is a little health, a little time to play together.
And a coaching staff that gives them a chance to play in a winning style. In this game as in the last, there are signs that may be happening.
Mississippi Masala: What do you get when you mix Monta Ellis with Stephen Curry?
One of the best damn backcourts this league has ever seen.
This was a vintage Stephen Curry performance, 32 points on 12-19, 6-8 from three, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals. He did this for the entire second half of his rookie season under Don Nelson, remember?
Those people who have used his last year of injury-related and Keith Smart induced bad performances to assert that Monta Ellis was obviously the best player on this team… chew on this game. When you have Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry on the same team, there is no best player. They are both among the very top players in the league at their positions.
Curry spotted up for three quarters in this game, as Monta Ellis took over the distribution. But in the fourth quarter, Curry seized the reins of the offense with some beautiful pick and roll action with David Lee, to bring this win home. Something we have never seen before even though David Lee has been in a Warriors uniform for over a year. One can only hope that Mark Jackson will build on this.
And what can one say about Monta Ellis’ game on this night? I have been saying for some time that he could be one of the premier point guards in the NBA. Tonight is another exhibit in an increasingly fattening portfolio. 12 assists against 2 turnovers. Including, I believe, most of Curry’s buckets. Monta is demonstrating an increasing genius at drawing the defense and finding the open man. And when he passes…
For the last two years, particularly when Curry is off the court, Monta has frequently found himself being guarded by three players. But with Curry on the court, the lane-clogging Kwame Brown Era on hold, and Monta displaying the extraordinary unselfishness that he did on this night, no defense can possibly get away with that in the future.
And the phenomenal versatility of the best passing and shooting team in the league can be unleashed. If Mark Jackson is willing to play this style of offense going forward, the NBA has been put on notice: Pick your poison.
Those of you who said that Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry could never co-exist, could never complement each other, …. Chew on this game.
Those of you who said that Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry are too small to play in the same backcourt…. Tell it to World Champions JJ Barea and Jason Terry. Tell it to World Champions Joe Dumars and Isaiah Thomas. Tell it to World Champions Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, who sent Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West packing. The same Jerry West who drafted Klay Thompson with the idea of sending Monta Ellis packing.
The Warriors have a world-championship caliber backcourt. For god’s sake, keep them together. And LET THEM PLAY.
David Lee: Kevin Love is averaging 25 points a game. David Lee is averaging 18 points a game. What accounts for the difference?
Well Love gets more offensive rebounds, and as a result gets to the free throw line more. 9 per game vs. 5. That’s part of it, but not the main reason.
The main reason is very simple: Kevin Love is featured in the TWolves offense. He is their go-to guy. In the fourth quarter in particular, Adelman gets his bigs off the court, plays Love at center, spreads the floor with Tolliver, and then it is Rubio and Love in the pick and roll until the cows come home.
Kevin Love gets 18.4 shots a game, and shoots 43%. David Lee gets 14.9 shots a game, and shoots 51%.
Remember that the next time someone tells you that Love is an All-Star and David Lee is not. And the next time someone tells you that David Lee is overpaid.
David Lee has been playing for the last season and a fraction with two of the best offensive players in the NBA. He has been an unselfish, uncomplaining third wheel. He has been played out of position, on the wing, at the four, waiting for escape passes. He has been playing in the wrong system, getting asked to post up or isolate and play one-on-one, with players just as big and even more athletic than he is. Just as he was in the first half of this game, against LaMarcus Aldridge.
Is that finally about to change?
Take a look at the last play of the first half. It’s usually been a Monta Ellis isolation, guarded by three players, resulting in a prayer. Tonight it was a Curry and Lee pick and roll, that resulted in a 20 foot Lee rampage down the lane for the score.
THAT is what David Lee was born for.
6:00 4th Q: Nate Robinson and Lee pick and roll, bucket.
5:30 Curry and Lee pick and roll, bucket.
1:40 Portland tips its hand trying to trap the pick and roll, Curry makes a beautiful decision to take the ball away from the pick, leaving Lee wide open for the POP.
David Lee is one of the two best pick and roll big men in the entire NBA. Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry are both fantastic pick and roll point guards. So why has it taken so goddamn long for the Warriors to actually run pick and roll for Lee? Where in the world has it been?
I’ll tell you where. It’s been lost in Keith Smart land. Buried beneath the Kwame Brown Era.
Trapped in Joe Lacob-ville.
The Nightmare: Are you one of those who’s been saying that Don Nelson blew this draft pick? That Greg Monroe is clearly a better basketball player than Ekpe Udoh?
Well, chew on that +18. And the fact that Udoh is once again leading the entire Warriors team in +/-. Think that’s an accident?
Wondering how he does it, scoring only 4 points? I’ll tell you how. He does it like he did it tonight, by guarding the entire Portland team, all over the floor. Making it tough on their best scorer, LaMarcus Aldridge. And still making every single rotation. Blocking shots. Generating steals. Disrupting.
That’s what a winning player looks like.
Udoh did something new in this game, that I think was a very positive development. He crashed the offensive boards. He picked up two, but it was actually more than that, because he also generated two loose ball fouls. This is one more way in which a smaller but more mobile big man can and should be utilized.
I called Udoh a longshot sleeper in my fantasy basketball preview this year. I didn’t draft him, because I believed we were in for a long and nightmarish Kwame Brown Era.
But I just picked him up off the waiver wire. The four points ain’t great. But 7 boards, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals? That’s the stealth way to win a fantasy league. If Udoh keeps picking up 26 minutes a game, I’m pretty sure he’ll help me.
He’ll sure as hell help the Warriors.