It’s like a nightmare, isn’t it? It just keeps getting worse and worse. — Grady Seasons
This will be remembered as the night that Ekpe “The Nightmare” Udoh put it all together, against the most hyped frontcourt in basketball. Most startling of all — for those already familiar with his defensive prowess — was the confident offensive game he displayed.
It’s an amazing concept, isn’t it, five on five basketball on the offensive end? Kind of hard to guard, isn’t it?
But no matter how happy I am to see Udoh blossom on the offensive end, it is his defense that I can’t take my eyes away from. He is one of those rare NBA players whom I love to watch throughout entire defensive possessions.
We saw the spectacular defense in this game: the complete and utter CAPULATION of the fiercest beast in basketball, Blake Griffin. They were called fouls, naturally. But Griffin knew better. He felt The Nightmare.
But we also saw, time and time again, what the unititiated might find unspectacular or even boring: picking up players like Chris Paul and Mo Williams on switches, and simply refusing to let them drive. While staying close enough to challenge their shots — even at the three point line. It’s spectacular to me. I can’t really think of another player his size who could do this.
Except Kevin Garnett.
Really the only thing that kept the Clippers alive in this game was their red-hot three point shooting. There was no layup line. No pick and rolls. No Lob City. It didn’t really feel like a Warriors basketball game, did it?
The box score didn’t look like a Warriors game either. Take a look at the Warriors’ +/- statistics. The starters all +10 or better. The reserves all minus. Precisely the opposite of the usual case.
It’s kind of hard not to see the impact of Ekpe Udoh in that, isn’t it? He’s one of those rare reserves whose hugely positive +/- is for real. Because he’s for real.
How you like it, Greg Monroe lovers? This might be the right moment to revisit that debate. Particularly now that Monroe’s Pistons have actually started playing a little better. This debate will have long legs.
But not for me. For me it’s not even close.
Don Nelson got it right.
Goose Eggs: Flu-like symptoms? (cough!) Interesting timing. #OsteitisPubis (Shhhhh!)
The debate over whether Udoh should supplant Biedrins in the starting lineup will begin in earnest now — at least for the mainstream media. For me, there really is no debate. Biedrins should remain the starter.
Wait, what? Udoh’s biggest proponent, the guy who predicted Udoh’s greatness before his first Warriors game, thinks Biedrins should continue starting? Yes, I do.
In games in which he plays at all, that is. There are many games in which I don’t think Biedrins should ever see a minute. In games against the Phoenix Suns, for instance. Or the Thunder or Heat.
But against teams with really good and really mammoth centers, like the Lakers and the Grizzlies, Biedrins should start. For two reasons:
1) To absorb as many punishing minutes against the behemoths as he can take, and thus preserve Lee and Udoh for the fourth quarter; and
2) Because his presence in the second unit would undermine the very thing that makes the second unit so successful: running and shooting. Biedrins and the Dominator in the same unit would bring back memories of Biedrins and Amundson.
Udoh should remain in the Serge Ibaka role.
Mark Jackson: I’m not really sure what I witnessed tonight. Curry took 6 shots in this game. Not one in the second half. Not a single shot. Is that a winning game plan for this Warriors team, even on a night that Ellis has it going?
And the Warriors literally made no effort to run the ball. None. I don’t remember them ever even looking upcourt after a rebound, let alone actually pushing the ball. Is that a winning game plan for this Warriors team?
Maybe it is, in games that Ekpe Udoh gets 38 minutes. And it’s very hard to quibble with, on nights the Warriors beat very good teams like these Clippers.
But I’m quibbling.
And I can’t help wondering…. If we were still in the Kwame Brown Era, who would have been guarding Chris Paul on that last play?
Monta Ellis: There is a meme among Warriors fans that Monta Ellis can’t play defense. I find that a head scratcher. I’ve seen him destroy Brandon Roy and Derrick Rose. Harass players like Kobe and Durant.
And tonight put a 1-9, 2 ast, 3 TO second half on Chris Paul. With a little help from a living, breathing center, of course.
I continue to believe that Monta Ellis is one of the best, and most underrated players in the NBA, and will continue to believe it right up until the moment Joe Lacob trades him.
Stephen Curry: There is something special about the way Monta and Curry have taken turns deferring to each other, as the “flow coach” Mark Jackson rides the hot hand. It says a lot about the respect between the two players, their unselfishness, coachability, and desire to win.
On nights like tonight, I almost start wishing for Stephen Curry to be traded. Because I love Curry. Think he’s an incredible basketball player, with champion quality.
And I’m beginning to believe that he will never fulfill his potential playing for Joe Lacob, and the coaches he hires.
Despite the Warriors fourth quarter scoring drought, it all worked out tonight. Everything worked out. But might it not have worked out even better with Curry and Lee working pick and roll?
What I wouldn’t pay to see Stephen Curry play for Mike D’Antoni. If that happened… Oh my god.
Even Matt Steinmetz would be forced to admit that Curry is a point guard.
David Lee: Soft?
A few posts back I made the argument that the biggest difference between Lee and the all-star Kevin Love is that Love is featured in his offense while Lee is not.
That appears to be changing.
Dorell Wright: Two offensive stinkers in a row. But paradoxically, in the last two games — three actually — he’s given terrific defensive performances. Against Durant, Gay and in this game, Butler.
I’m not worried about his offense. The man can shoot. And when he puts it all together, he’s an extremely valuable player.
He’s even a good player when he shoots 0-6. On nights like tonight.
Klay Thompson: Is Klay Thompson a good player when his shot is not falling? His minutes in the last two games would suggest otherwise.
Or perhaps Lacob has given up on getting him into the Rising Stars Challenge.