The Running Game Returns: Warriors 120 Wizards 100

Obviously, this game settles nothing in the debate over what ails the Warriors. It was the Wizards, one of the most wretched teams in the NBA, if not in NBA history. I like precisely one player on their roster, Trevor Booker. (He’s currently on my injury-ravaged fantasy team, competing for minutes with Mr. Nightmare.)

Did the Warriors three point shooting return because the first two shots went down? Because the law of averages dictated that it had to return at some point? Because the Warriors were inspired by the Return of the Prosthetic Son?  Because they were playing against the Wizards, and the worst perimeter defense in the league? Or because they knew they were playing against the Wizards?

Or was it because for the first time in the last 6 games they actually pushed the tempo, found an offensive rhythmn and got open looks?  

I don’t know the answer to those questions.  If you do, I’d like to hang out with you and bet on some basketball games.

But I do know that the Warriors came into this game with a radically different offensive philosophy from the last 6 games. I saw it with my own two eyes.

Right after I heard about it.

The Warriors Fast Break:  I’ve noticed that the Warriors’ coaching staff has a habit of leaking their game plans to the Warriors broadcasters.  If there is a new point of emphasis, it will be in the talking points of St. Jean and Steinmetz, and Fitz and Barnett.  You can practically make book on it.

And tonight we heard a lot from these guys about the Warriors’ need to jumpstart their offense with the running game.

Lo and behold, 17 fastbreak points.

The Warriors were looking to go, right from the start.  Pushing the tempo after rebounds.  Outlets to halfcourt from both Biedrins and Lee (a very overlooked part of both of their games, which is no surprise playing for this coach).

A few of my favorite plays, and play-by-plays:

  • 11:10 1Q:  Monta pushes after a rebound, Udoh runs the floor and seals McGee under the basket, opening the drive for Monta. See how that works?
  • 3:23 1Q: Monta pushes and drives, Udoh trails for the And One Slam.
  • 9:00 2Q: Dom McGuire, playing power forward, beats his man down court for the Alley Oop Slam Dunk from Nate Robinson. (Isn’t that exactly what I suggested he could do in my previous post?)

Fitz: As Barnett said, if you RUN, you can get other ancillary players involved, and it really helps them.

Barnett: Do you remember Dominic McGuire hitting a shot in the half-court offense?

Fitz: No.

Barnett: If you run, you make it easy for him.

  • 8:00 2Q: Dom leads the fast break, and finds Rush open for the early offense three.

Barnett:  It’s just early offense, Bob, and it’s effective.

The question that occurs to me is why did the Warriors players show a determination to come out of the gate running in this game, when they were clearly instructed to walk the ball up the court in the last several games? Did a lightbulb suddenly go off for coaches Jackson and Malone? Or were they ordered to change their philosophy? Did the red phone direct line from Joe Lacob start ringing? Or did someone whisper into their ear?

And who leaked it to the broadcasting crew?

Whatever happened, it was sudden and mysterious.  As mysterious as the chain of command in the Warriors’ byzantine front office.

Dom McGuire:  His starting lineup managed a +4 in the first quarter. But the Warriors were +13 for the rest of the quarter when he was taken out.

He was +4 for the game, but this was a 20 point victory.  The problem, of course, was the horrible stretch of minutes he got playing alongside Andris Biedrins (-14).  The Warriors offense not only screeched to a halt, it went into full reverse.

You might call this Biedrins’ fault.  Or you might call it Dom’s fault.  I call it Mark Jackson’s fault:  These two players should never be on the court together.

And Dom McGuire should not start in the backcourt.  He should come off the bench to play power forward in an all-out running game.  Did you see his defense against Blatche and Vesely in this game?  Did you see him force Blatche into an airball in the post at 0:30 1Q?  Did you see him block Vesely at 8:05 2Q?

Did you see his fast break alley oop slam dunk?

This is how you make a winning basketball player out of Dom McGuire.

The Nightmare:  Udoh got in foul trouble again in the starting lineup. This problem will get worse when he’s forced to match up with players like Marc Gasol of Memphis.  Hey, that’s the Warriors next game!

But the biggest reason I see for Udoh to come off the bench is that starting him forces you to use Andris Biedrins in a horribly inefficient manner.  I’ll say it again.  If you plan to give Biedrins any time at all, it must be to start the first and third quarters.

Biedrins — even in his current nearly-crippled state — can give you something useful against the bigger beasts of the NBA. Good post defense. Block outs, if not rebounds. Protective minutes for Lee and Udoh.

But against small-ball second units, Biedrins will get eaten alive.  As he was in this game. Biedrins’ fault? No, Mark Jackson’s fault.

As for Udoh’s game, well, he just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t he?  This kid’s hoops IQ is simply off the charts.  He might turn into the smartest big man in the game — Tim Duncan level.

If his ability to move to the open spot, and hit his shots, continues improving apace, it might not even matter that David Lee’s pick and rolls are compromised. Udoh’s just that good.

One other note.  Compare the free throw shooting of David Lee and Udoh to that of the Wizards’ big men.  Joe Lacob’s personnel moves to date have indicated zero grasp of just how important that can be to a basketball team.

Thank you, Don Nelson.

Monta Ellis:  Not a point guard. Not an all-star. Right?

Coming soon: Not a Warrior.

Stephen Curry:  God, I love to watch this guy play basketball.  Virtually every play in this game was special in some way.

But I’ll just mention one.  That show the right hand, finish with the left layup that left the jonesing-for-the-shot-block John Wall rooted to the floor wondering what happened.

I’ll tell you what happened.  Genius happened.

Go ahead and trade him. You’ll be the laughingstock of the NBA for a decade and a half.

120 – 100:  Wasn’t that score mentioned somewhere in my last post? Joe Lacob, that could happen on a regular basis.

If only you could see it.

60 Responses to The Running Game Returns: Warriors 120 Wizards 100

  1. Felt, the game looked like Jackson picked up most of your offensive plan.

    Pushing the pace, no walk-up offense.
    No one parked in the corners, everyone in motion.
    Wright and Rush slashing to the hoop (who knew Rush could do that so well)?
    Lee posting at the top of the key (it’s been awhile, he looked a little rusty at it and didn’t distribute much).

    For your next lesson, maybe you could pass along the ins & outs of matchups to whoever is in charge. Maybe it would even convince him to get the team’s 2nd best rebounder and shotblocker near the hoop.

  2. Felt, beating the announcers talking points into the ground is kinds boring. It can’t be hard for Fitzgerald to go up to one of the assistant coaches and ask about the points of emphasis. Fitz is so concerned about his job that he calls games as a homer rather than as a true play by play guy. It sucks for us fans.

    • It becomes interesting to me when there is a tension between the home color analysis and the coaching. I’ve been hearing that tension all season long, but never so much as in the last few games. I think there’s a story there.

      • I’ve been noticing the same thing and wondering what Jerry West is thinking as he watches these games from his LA living room. I’d be willing to bet he agrees with Barnett and grinds his teeth about the coaching. In fact, I wonder if Barnett is unusually open about his criticism (though diplomatic) because he has West’s ear.

        The question is, will West do anything to set Lacob or the coaches straight about on-court strategy? Or is he around just to consult on personnel moves? Must be as frustrating for him as it is for us. I wouldn’t be surprised if he bails out after the season, in a gentlemanly fashion, with no criticism of Lacob, but we’ll know why.

        • MWLX, I’m sure you’re right about his grinding his teeth while watching the coaching…Although this is what most rookie coaches go through.

          I am having a harder and harder time understanding why the Warriors would hire a rookie coach for a team that has enough talent to win games if coached correctly. What bothers me about Jackson is his well-documented emphasis on defense, having never coached before. How is he supposed to know if this approach will work? Feltbot is right, it’s all about “changing the culture” rather than trying to win the game with the personnel he has. Ownership definitely looked at this lockout shortened season as a throw-away season. This should anger season ticket holders.

          The post-AS break Warriors reminded me of the Rasheed/Ben Wallace Pistons, except they came out on the wrong end of low-scoring games. Jackson/Lacob seems to want the Warriors to be those Pistons teams…or more likely the big-3 Celtics. With the Warriors current personnel, this is an idiotic notion. This team needs to run.

  3. “The evidence seems to suggest that the Warriors played very well in February, scoring plenty of points vs a lot of good teams, along with winning their fair share of games (won 6 of 11 before the break). The question is, how much can a team change from the 22nd to the 28th of Feb?

    Losing Curry has obviously hurt, and hitting the road has been a killer for GSW for many seasons, but the almost Jekyll-Hyde transformation from competent and offensively proficient to basically unwatchable, from an offensive standpoint, is too drastic and off the charts to analyze other than to use the words “small sample size” and “slump”.

    This team has caught the Funk virus, something that usually goes away with rest, liquids and a bigger sample size. Hopefully that and a dose of Curry will get these guys back on track soon so meaningful analysis of their games will once again be something other than a waste of time.”

    ————————————————-

    “The Warriors just recently finished a stretch where they scored 119 vs Utah, 116 vs OKC, 109 vs Denver, 106 vs Houston, 103 vs Memphis, 104 vs the Clippers, and 208 pts combined in 2 games vs Phoenix. The same team that outscored all but 5 other teams in the NBA through the first 30 games. Please explain to me why what has happened these last 4 games is more meaningful and worthy of increased scrutiny than what happened in the first 30 games, and without Steph Curry, to boot?

    The same coaches that coached ‘em up to score 116 vs OKC were there yesterday as they scored 41 fewer points against a far inferior opponent.

    The same coaches that coached ‘em up to a top 6 offensive team through 30 games were there as the Warriors scored all of 11 pts in yesterday’s 3rd qtr.

    You can’t analyze these aberrational discrepancies without falling prey to “analysis paralysis”. This team is in a collective shooting slump. It happens.”

    ———————————————-

    “Back to the Dubs current woes, they’ve started this road trip shooting like they’ve been blindfolded before taking their shots. And when the Warriors are shooting like this it exacerbates all their other deficiencies ten fold. I say throw these losses out (from an analytical standpoint) and see what happens after games in Toronto and Washington.

    Remember, through the first 30 games only 5 teams were outscoring the Warriors on average, so do you choose to analyze the offense on 3 games or 30?

    I think the shooting will return (and Curry hopefully as well) and GSW will resume their path towards a more entertaining irrelevance.”

    ————————————————–

    “In 9 of the last 13 games the Warriors have scored 100+ points, with 2 of the 4 games where they scored under coming directly out of the AS break.

    Guess what, when you shut down play and practice for the better part of a week your timing and rhythm on offense figures to suffer. This was Atlanta’s first game back and they hardly lit it up offensively themselves.

    Odds are, with Curry likely back on Friday, and 2 games under their belts to knock off the offensive cobwebs, the Warriors will be back around the century mark vs Philly and beyond. This is not a case of walk-up-BB mode being implemented by MJ and staff.”

    ————————————————

    These were some of my recent thoughts in response to some of the other comments being made in relation to the recent mini shooting slump the Warriors were in…….until tonight. Even my posts on the Philly and Toronto games proved partially correct as the Warriors were on pace at halftime of both games (48, 47) to come close to the century mark by games-end before the “Funk virus” returned in both second halves.

    To say this team’s offense and coaching is Nelli-like because they scored 120 pts tonight would be just as silly and illogical as saying Jackson and crew should be fired for the team’s poor shooting/offensive performances on this now-concluded 5 game road trip.

    I’ll leave it to Dinah Washington to put all this into it’s proper and more sensible perspective, with “romance” and “you” being the loving sound of ball swishing net.

    • I’m really not sure how you can dump the coaching decision to give a total non-shooter 35 minutes at shooting guard, nor the coaching decision to start walking the ball up the court, under the all-encompassing rubric of “slump.”

      Barnett and St. Jean, two insiders with pretty good basketball minds, seem to think there’s been more to the story than that.

      • Felt, along with your “tension” remarks, you say Jim Barnett has a “pretty good basketball mind”. I agree totally with that (BB mind). That said, Barnett made some decisive comments about Mark Jackson during a recent KNBR interview that I posted on an earlier thread. You might want to listen to that “pretty good basketball mind”, if you haven’t already.

        http://www.knbr.com/portals/3/podcasts/murphmac/022812jimbarnett.mp3

        IMO, a shooting slump has little to do with offensive style because in any system, running, halfcourt, you name it, the conclusion of most possessions results in someone shooting the ball. Do you recall Lee missing an uncontested layup at the halftime buzzer vs Philly? The Warriors had more than enough open looks on this trip and simply failed to hit shots. Again, watch their first half play vs both Philly and Toronto. They were on pace to beat their season scoring avg in both games, with your “non-shooter at shooting guard”. They were just flat cold-as-ice in both second halves. Even when you’re running you’re still shooting a lot of jump shots. Those jumpers were just not falling for those few games. And don’t discount the mental lift of having Curry back.

        Call it what you want but tonight the Warriors offense looked just like it has for most of the season (6th in scoring).

        • Or did it? 17 fastbreak points.

          And when Jim Barnett says “Maybe you change your philosophy and start running some more.” And Fitz replies, “Yeah, halfcourt to halfcourt is not working.” — That is as close as you are ever going to get to a home broadcasting crew criticizing their coach’s system. Ever.

          I find it interesting that those comments were followed up, one game later, by a radical change in coaching philosophy.

          Let’s see if it sticks.

        • the coaching does matter. is it really just a ‘on the road’ slump and a coincidence that they shot poorly against teams whose coaches get consistent defensive effort from their teams ? the book against that type of team is quite ancient — push the ball up court so they need to scramble and improvise on d.

    • This guy claims Ellis needs to go without giving a good reason. He alludes to Ellis not playing D like Jackson wants, but then says that Curry and Kosygin are pieces to build around. It makes no sense.

      • A common theme among sports guys is that Monta is like Allen Iverson – shameless ball hog, useless on D. Kawakami is the most vocal proponent locally. He complains that team management doesn’t listen to him, and says that proves they’re incompetent.

        He’s wrong. Anyone who ever saw Monta shut down Chris Paul, Deron Williams or huge guards like Tyreke Evans would respect his D. On offense, his shooting percentage is .465, better than most guards in the league. He often has the most assists of anyone on the team – more than the point guard. Not a low-percentage, volume-shooting ballhog, in other words, but a damn fine player and teammate.

        It just shows that many sports writers don’t do their homework.

        • Las Vegas Heel

          Agreed. Monta has also outplayed Derrick Rose the past two years, as well as Brandon Roy before his knee injury.

          • Right! I forgot about Monta counting coup on Rose, giving the dubs 2/3 against Chicago in the last two seasons.

            It makes you wonder if most MSM sportswriters actually watch games or are just happy to sing along with each other in a big echo chamber.

          • There’s nothing to wonder about. Most writers are: A) not that smart; and B) don’t see many Warriors games because they’re on “late” in the midwest and east. They just copy and repeat each other’s opinions. One of Steve’s links the other day had a list of trade possibilities, and one writer had such ignorant comments about Monta it would have been laughable if it hadn’t been so incompetent.

            But we’re talking about sportswriters. I’ve known quite a few (back in my newspaper days), and they are some of the dullest knives in the drawer.

  4. From Marcus Thompson, on Biedrins’ demotion:

    Biedrins said while he understands the ire he receives, he does find it frustrating that his critics don’t see the whole picture – him sacrificing for the team, his helping the other guys, his keeping his emotions in check despite unfavorable playing time and results.”

    It’s true, we don’t see the whole picture, but only because no one is answering the obvious questions about Biedrins. Poor guy. It sounds as if people corner him in store aisles and hurl hex signs.

    It’s hilarious how the owner insists that he’ll do anything to improve the team !

    Yet he passes on functioning centers and keeps Biedrins around.

    • Las Vegas Heel

      Biedrins has a -14 in yesterday’s blowout over the Wizards!
      Please Andris, shut up and clip your coupons for the next three years.

      • Andris Biedrins scored 28 points and had 21 rebounds against Randolph and Gasol on the road last season. Andris’ problem is mental for sure.

        When playing under Don Nelson and with Baron and Stephen Jackson, Andris was always setting picks and cutting to the hoop! He actually WANTED the ball. And they were always looking for Andris – penetration and dishing to the cutting big man for a dunk. What ever happened to the center with the best hands in the league?

        Keith Smart – designed Patrick Ewing-type plays for Andris speading the floor – and feeding the ball in to Andris in a back to the basket-type play. Did anyone think Andris can ever be successful in this situation? I actually cringed whenever Smart did this – and lost respect for Keith Smart (wasn’t he paying attention on the Nellie’s bench?) – as well as for Smart’s (a supposed “point guard”‘s handling of Stephen Curry.

        Don Nelson – how did he utilize Andris on offense? By having Andris setting picks and cutting to the basket. Have other players create for him – and utilize Andris as a finisher, crashing the offensive boards, and running the fast break. Andris used to run well for a big guy.

  5. Feltbot – I haven’t even read the comments stream yet… I must recognize the quality of your basketball writing and the analysis of the games within the games. Man on many points your last thread were prescient… down to the score…. exactly. Great write up…

  6. D’Antoni calls Tyson Chandler the best center in the league. (Among everything else, please note the emphasis he puts on making foul shots.)

    http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/knicksblog/chandler_as_good_as_any_center_in_yg8AWVUHJtnlnnvMqYjSDK

    Remind me again why Joe Lacob refused to bid on him?

    #OsteitisPubis

    • There is no doubt in my mind that Joe Lacob badly WANTED Tyson Chandler – but the feeling wasn’t reciprocal. Tyson used the Warriors to get a better deal in a preferred situation in a preferred destination. It’s been speculated that Tyson would have considered the Warriors had the Chris Paul for Stephen Curry (among others) deal had gone through.

    • rumour was (probably planted by woeyrs front office/p.r.) that the numbers discussed w. Chandler were actually higher than the offer he got from NY. they can say anything about it, because nothing was put onto a document for Chandler to consider signing. they were probably concerned about getting ‘played’ by Chandler and his agent into boosting another team’s offer. but NY clearly had a clear vision and took their medicine with the Billups waiver to accomplish it ; with the lacobites there was always the excuse, we couldn’t waive Biedrins and end up getting no one to play center.

  7. It’s incredible that with close to a 20 point lead going into the fourth quarter, Jackson stook idly by as the Warriors sent the Wizzards to the line for more than 14 foul shots. Where is the coaching?

    With Biedrins starting the first and fourth quarters, the Warriors, nine times out 10, fall behind. Thankfully, Jackson finally woke up and decided to start Udoh. If he had done so earlier the Warriors probably would have been 20-15 or better, not 15-20.

    • By the way, the Warriors are 4 games out of the 8th spot in the West. One hot spell could mean playoffs. Do I believe that it’s possible? Yes. Probable? No way. The post-All Star game coaching solidified for me that this is a throw-away season for Warriors ownership and coaching staff.

      However, head to head, I’d take the W’s over the five teams ahead of them: Houston, Minn, Portland, Utah and Phoenix.

  8. Added link to @8. Sorry about that.

  9. SI.com Power Rankings:

    Golden State Warriors (15-20)

    “It is good to see second-year center Ekpe Udoh finally crack the starting lineup for two games in a row. When Udoh is on the court, good things happen for the Warriors. According to Basketball Value, Golden State was 11.73 points per 100 possessions better when Udoh played compared to when he sat last season, by far the best differential on the team. This season that number through Saturday had swelled to nearly 19 points per 100 possessions, with the value neatly cleaved so that there was more than nine points of improvement on both offense and defense when Udoh was in the lineup. The Warriors were minus-4 in his 32 minutes and minus-4 in the 16 minutes he sat in Sunday’s loss at Toronto. But when the Warriors exploded for a season-high 120 points in Monday’s win over Washington to complete a 3-3 road trip, they were a plus-21 in Udoh’s 27 minutes (during which he had 17 points and six rebounds) and minus-1 in the 21 minutes he was on the bench.”

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/britt_robson/03/06/power.rankings/index.html#ixzz1oPzNEmQ8

  10. “A new look at the NBA’s best shooters.”

    http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:7652923

  11. Here’s a list from last summer on the top 11 centers in the league. Back then, more than half were either FAs, RFAs or available for trade (like Bynum, for one). It’s not my list, and I don’t think many of the options would integrate well with the Warriors as currently constructed. But if the Warriors were honestly serious about staffing up to be competitive at BigBall, as they claim, this list would have to be where to start looking, right?

    Except for Dwight Howard, of course. He has no reason to choose the Warriors. They can’t offer him more money, he’ll get a max contract wherever. They can’t offer him a big stage, a winning team, or even a coach who has proven himself. Howard is unattainable.

    Strangely, while the Warriors front office claims to be doing everything possible to find a top center, in the last 12 months the only name on the list “linked” to the Warriors is the only unattainable one. The Warriors float rumors about their huge interest.

    Ya know, I’m hugely interested in Charlize Theron, but I’m pretty sure I’m not on her radar.

    This routine is nothing more than a cheap PR scam the Warriors are running on their fan base. When they turn up empty-handed again on March 15, they can give us “See, we tried.”

    Lacob and Guber think their fans are idiots.

    Charlize, call me…

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/Ranking-the-centers-11-through-1?urn=nba,265548

  12. Las Vegas Heel

    Less you notice last night, the “Great:” Dwight Howard achieve the same results as MJack and this year’s Warriors: They lost to the Charlotte Bobcats… Howard did not make the difference with arguably a decent squad. He does not make his teammates better, and he is a poor free throw shooter. He needs to improve more before he can be considered a franchise player. He is a very good player, not a franchise player. If they trade Monta and Epke and throw in another player (Lee?), one could even argue the team would be worse in terms of wins and losses. Let’s hope the ownership is engaged in charades and not serious about trading for him. Ug if they are. If they are serious, Warrior fans should be happy Sacramento is only 90 minutes away.

  13. Great read from Henry Abbott at ESPN about “Hero Ball” at the end of close games:
    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/7649571/nba-kobe-bryant-not-money-think-espn-magazine

  14. 2) JaVale McGee (-233)

    “It’s a little perplexing to see McGee on this list, because he blocks a lot of shots (2.6 per game) and is a key rebounding fixture for the Wizards (8.8 boards per game, 3.1 offensive). He also shoots a high percentage from the floor (52.5%) and is clearly one of the better young centers in the league.”

    JaVale McGee = S-T-I-F-F. Not to mention his brain power is close to zero. Let’s hope GSW stays far away from this guy.

    “The Five Worst Plus-Minus Players in the NBA This Season.”

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news;_ylt=AiyUtfifuD9ifn0oBcKnk1y8vLYF?slug=ycn-11064306

  15. Memphis:

    Why no McGuire 2nd. half, especially with the small unit?

    How many fast break points?

    What on earth was the game plan, 2nd. half?