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?
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.