First Look: Warriors 83 Jazz 80 — Preseason

Had a great time at the Warriors game tonight, courtesy of my poker buddy Micah Brown and his killer halfcourt season tickets. Thanks Micah!

Jump for a few of my observations:                      

Stephen Curry: Let’s start with the bad news: I’m pretty sure Curry’s ankle came up sore in this game. I didn’t see him actually tweak it, but I did see this:

Late 2nd quarter, dead ball, Curry bends over and grabs his shorts, looking at his ankle. David Lee walks over and appears to console him with a few pats on the back. Mark Jackson then subs Charles Jenkins for Curry.

Curry walks to the bench with his head down. I see a subtle head shake. During the ensuing timeout, I see Curry talking to the trainers. They glance down at his ankle as he talks. Another head shake.

At the start of the third quarter, Curry remains in the lockerroom. Marcus Thompson reports via Twitter that he’s icing his ankle. Curry returns to the bench mid-third quarter, and sits out the rest of the game.

According to the Warriors post-game, the icing was routine and precautionary. Mark Jackson stated that he took Curry out “because he was tired.”

Does that make sense to anyone? Sits out the first preseason game, and gets 12 minutes in the second? I can see taking him out if he’s tired, but was he still too tired to start the third quarter? I’m not buying it.

It feels like my current role is to be the constant bearer of bad news and pessimism. Trust me, I don’t like it anymore than you do. Particularly in this case. Stephen Curry is my favorite player in the league, the biggest reason I enjoy tuning in to Warriors basketball. If his ankle problem proves chronic it would be an unspeakable tragedy — for him, for Warriors fans, and, I believe, for the league. I was convinced by his rookie season that we were watching a future hall of fame basketball player.

I sure hope I’m dead wrong about this.

David Lee: Great basketball player, a true man in the paint. He and Ezeli dominated the paint defensively. If he gets to play with Bogut, some eyes are going to get opened.

I think he’s going to get a lot more minutes this season than we’ve been led to expect. A lot more.

Festus Ezeli: Wow. Wow. Wow. Please go back and read what I wrote about watching him in the summer league. Every single word applies to what I saw in this game, going against one of the league’s toughest front lines.

Utah went at Ezeli in the post relentlessly, because that’s what they do. And wound up with next to nothing. This kid can bang, he can defend the rim (4 blocks), and he’s SMART. He got juked off his feet by Al Jefferson to start the game. And never left his feet against Jefferson for the rest of the game. Stayed out of foul trouble. Stoned Al Jefferson. Wow.

On offense, he caught and slammed a couple of Curry alley-oops. And he made a nice spin move under the basket for a foul and two free throws. He drained both of them. I think he’s got a 60-70% free throw stroke. This is all the Warriors need from him if he continues to play so spectacularly on defense.

And he runs the floor. I’m telling you, this kid is Nene incarnate. How in the world did he drop to the Warriors at #30?

If my eyes don’t deceive me, the Warriors got the steal of the draft in this young man. How’s that for going out on a limb? I’m ready to say it, right now.

I’m ready to say this too: He’s better than Derrick Favors. In fact, based on tonight’s performance, the slimmed down Enes Kanter is better than Derrick Favors. So much for my fantasy league sleeper tout — going to revisit that.

Brandon Rush: Got his second straight start, which I think is a solid indication that the starting role is his. And I think that’s exactly right, as I will point out in my next post, which concerns the Warriors’ position battle at the small forward.

Rush looks to be in fantastic shape, and although his shot was off, did basically everything in this game that he did last season. Great defense, amazing shotblocking on rotations. On offense, spread the floor, made some plays, put the ball on the floor for a rocking slam.

Fantastic ballplayer. Love him.

Klay Thompson: Not really tested on defense, going against one of the league’s worst backcourts. On offense, meh.

I think Klay is a special player offensively, but one thing was made clear in the fourth quarter of this game: with Monta gone and no Stephen Curry on the floor, the Warriors no longer have a player who can get his own shot.

No Curry, no closer.

Jarret Jack: Possibly not in shape. Possibly uncertain of the Warriors’ system (I don’t blame him – the fourth quarter of this game indicated that Mark Jackson is uncertain of the Warriors system). But not playing with anything close to the assertiveness I witnessed last season when he was leading the Hornets.

Not Jacking.

Charles Jenkins: Deadly catch and shoot mid-range jump shooter.

Had a lot of trouble running whatever it was that the Warriors were trying to run in this game. Don’t ask me what it was. I can’t tell you, except that it wasn’t pick and roll.

Not a penetrator. Can’t get to the rim. Can’t create for his teammates. Can’t go left. Can’t spread the floor.

Needs a system. Do the Warriors have one? 83 points in a preseason game.

The Harrison Barnes Brand: When he came in mid-first quarter, it was for Klay Thompson, which I thought was interesting.

The Warriors immediately iso’d him on the left wing , where he drove by his man, and finished a two-handed slam through a foul for the and-one. Very impressive. [Edit: Courtesy of the video @2 below, it was a give and go -- thanks Steve. It's hard watching basketball live!]

It was downhill from there. I think it’s clear that this kid will need some seasoning. He wants to jack the ball up whenever he touches it, and took a lot of bad, contested mid-range jumpers.

Defensively, wasn’t really tested guarding the likes of Marvin Barnes and Gordon Haywood. 1 rebound in 20 minutes. -17.

Carl Landry: Adam Lauridsen recently pointed out that Landry has increasingly turned into a jump shooter in his last few seasons, and that he shoots his jumper at 35%.

He missed every jumper he took in this game, and looked bad doing it. They weren’t close.

He’s very good around the rim, though. And a good rebounder.  The Warriors need to keep him in that role, which makes pairing him with Ezeli or Biedrins problematic. He was at his best when on the floor with David Lee.

Andris Biedrins: That donut looks mighty familiar. Oh wait, there was a steal and a block.

Pretty sure I saw him clutch his osteitis pubis on the way upcourt after a battle on the boards. So soon?

Jeremy Tyler: Next.

There’s nothing next? Ok, that’s it then.

37 Responses to First Look: Warriors 83 Jazz 80 — Preseason

  1. Felty focused on minor details. What stood out in this game was Mr. Lacob’s game planning and play calling, both were awesome. Jackson ought to praise Mr. Lacob more in his presser, although he did licked Mr. Lacob’s shoes clean in the locker room.

  2. Brytex, make sure you check out my question at the end of the previous thread.

  3. “I was exhausted,” Curry said about how he felt out there. “But it’s hard to mimic a game-like atmosphere, the adrenalin and the flow of the game. That first seven minutes was tough but I got through it. It feels all right. A little sore but that’s to be expected. We’ll see how it feels tomorrow and hopefully Thursday’s game I’ll be able to play a lot more.”

    Late 2nd quarter, dead ball, Curry bends over and grabs his shorts, looking at his ankle. David Lee walks over and appears to console him with a few pats on the back. Mark Jackson then subs Charles Jenkins for Curry.

    Felt, given that Curry actually used the word “exhausted” to describe how tired he felt, and given the universal body language for “tired” is bending over (grabbing your shorts) I can argue this was simply his “state of fatigue”, and he wasn’t looking at his ankle (or anything else in particular) during the process. I can also easily argue that Lee’s “pats on the back” were intended for saying “good job” than of consolation.

    Curry walks to the bench with his head down. I see a subtle head shake. During the ensuing timeout, I see Curry talking to the trainers. They glance down at his ankle as he talks. Another head shake.

    Actually, Curry often walks with his head down, AND, often acts as if he’s about to die of fatigue in games. Then, just as quickly, he’ll resume playing with renewed energy. As confusing as his body language often is the one thing that will never be confused is his toughness vs, say, an Andrew Bogut. I’m sure he’s scared to death of revisiting last season’s ankle problems so any little twinge will undoubtedly send him into at least semi-panic mode, hence some of his actions.

    At the start of the third quarter, Curry remains in the lockerroom. Marcus Thompson reports via Twitter that he’s icing his ankle. Curry returns to the bench mid-third quarter, and sits out the rest of the game.

    According to the Warriors post-game, the icing was routine and precautionary. Mark Jackson stated that he took Curry out “because he was tired.”

    Does that make sense to anyone? Sits out the first preseason game, and gets 12 minutes in the second? I can see taking him out if he’s tired, but was he still too tired to start the third quarter? I’m not buying it.

    I think this is pretty obvious. No, he wasn’t too tired to return in the second half but after telling the trainers his ankle started to get sore any chance of him returning to the game was eliminated in the spirit of hopefully “living to fight another day”.

    Felt, I’m just playing devil’s advocate here. And I’ll never have a problem with what you (or anyone else) see’s with their very own eyes, up close and personal, at a game. In other words, I’m sorry you came away with those observations and worries. It certainly doesn’t make my fears of what lies ahead for Curry any less worrisome. Hopefully he feels fine tomorrow and on into the upcoming season. But to be honest? I’m actually more confident in prospects for Bogut’s future health than Curry’s.

  4. Feltbot:

    I only saw the box score. Lee obviously had a good game. Did playing alongside Ezeli help?

    “I think he’s going to get a lot more minutes this season than we’ve been led to expect. A lot more.”

    Well, he averaged over 36 minutes a game the last three seasons. This is my concern, that they will rely on him too much and wear him down. But why oh why oh why did he play 36 minutes in a preseason game? If there ever were a time to get his possible backup ready, this is it.

  5. I was under the impression Curry was good to go. So it’s surprising he didn’t make some kind of appearance in the first game as well.

    But, for a variety of reasons, I don’t think we’ll ever get an accurate report on his condition until something happens the team has to explain, e.g. he limps off the court.

    The team has been very cautious with him, and it’s hard to believe all the attention paid to his ankle is doing him or his ankle any good. Our best hope may be that it’s something he eventually plays his way out of, and eventually could be a year or more. After all, Curry did talk about returning at the end of last season, though there was no point.

  6. I’m afraid my eyes didn’t deceive me. From Marcus Thompson (@gswscribe) on twitter comes more news on Curry:

    “PG Steph Curry pulled himself out after a half because he “started to feel it a little bit.” Feel what, exactly?
    Curry said he felt his ankle getting sore so he called it a night after 12 minutes of action. He told Mark Jackson he was done and he stayed in the locker room to get ice.
    He still said the outing was good. For most of the night, he said his ankle felt “great” and he didn’t look limited while cutting, running, jumping, driving, etc.
    Now, they’ll monitor how his ankle responds tomorrow. If he’s problem free, he’ll play more minutes on Thursday.”

    I’m curious why the Warriors and Mark Jackson felt the need to hide this. Hard to see the point. Are they so used to being deceptive regarding injuries that it’s now second nature?

    • “Are they so used to being deceptive regarding injuries that it’s now second nature?”

      Somewhat in everyone’s defense, I don’t think anyone knows what’s going on or what to expect, not the doctors, not the team, not Curry nor his ankle. We’re going to have to live in a haze for a while and hope for the best, or something.

      • Does that mean there’s no difference between saying “I pulled him because he was tired,” and “He pulled himself because his ankle was hurting?”

        • “Somewhat” is not a strong word and backbone in in short supply in the FO.

          The best case scenario may well be that, as early as last fall, the team should have considered the option that Curry has a condition that might well last a year or two, that they’ll need to wait and give him time, but also that, with time and careful playing, he might recover, and, given his talent, a moderate four year contract would have been a very good gamble.

          Instead he has become the face of the franchise, with heavy expectations that he lead the team to a winning season—and help Jackson keep his job and Lacob save face.

          The team does not have the money for such a gamble. $20 m is locked up the next two years in Biedrins and Jefferson, for whom prospects are none and slim. Also there is the $20m Bogut gamble during that time as well. And of course they traded Ellis, who might have filled in the gap for Curry his last season or two.

  7. Last year, Jenkins penetrated the paint at will and by doing so, did create open shots for players. He steals the ball, commits few turnovers, good assist man, terrific stroke. Needs more playing time. Agree with the rest of your observations.

    If Bogut healthy, would like to see Ezeil-Bogut front court at times.

    • A “tall trees” Warriors lineup could be fun. Almost unrecognizable as a Warriors team, though.

  8. White Hat:

    We really need a Bogut-Ezeli combination at the center position. Ezeli-Biedrins combination will be a disaster and I doubt that Jackson will give Biedrins much playing time if Bogut is unable to go.

    Ezeli can help Landry defensively when he is on the court, but I would rather see the Warriors go with big line-ups at times, especially since Landry does not hit 3’s. Warriors need a PF who can hit the three’s. Don’t think Green is that guy as I don’t expect him to hit a decent percentage of his three’s, but he may surprise.

    Don’t look for Thompson to carry the team. I think he’s very erratic and not a particularly smart player. Four turnovers last night. Warriors should not run their offense through him. Yes, he can shoot. But, can he get to the rim? The foul line? Let’s see. He says he’s quicker this year.
    His defense is suspect.

    Rush is more is more consistent on both sides of the court. Can’t see Barnes shooting more than 42% from the floor, Landry 45%. Can’t let Barnes be a high volume shooter.

  9. Curry participated fully in practice today, whatever that means.

  10. Video: Curry talking to media after last night’s game

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/pages/video?PID=bK32uH5scEdc96T7Yy1TJDGQNcYFc2Z2

  11. Warriors 125 to 1 to win it all and 60 to 1 to win the West.

    Some interesting odds here. Out of the top 10 favorites I wouldn’t touch the Bulls at 14 to 1, LAC at 25 to 1, the Nets at 30 to 1 or Dallas at 33 to 1 with a 10 ft pole. Other underlays to me are Memphis and the Knicks, both at 35 to 1. I wasn’t impressed with the Grizz last season in the playoffs. I thought they “gagged” on their opportunity to advance.

    Denver is intriguing at 66 to 1, and I’ll take GSW at 125 to 1 over both Houston and Minny (each at 75 to 1) all day long IF they’re healthy.

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/basketball-golden-state-warriors/warriors-talk/Warriors-granted-1251-odds-to-win-title-?blockID=786633&feedID=2799

  12. Steinmetz on Barnes and Ezeli (and Biedrins groin tightness)

    “Pretty sure I saw him clutch his osteitis pubis on the way upcourt after a battle on the boards. So soon?”

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/basketball-golden-state-warriors/warriors-talk/Barnes-Ezeli-will-play-but-will-they-win?blockID=786545&feedID=2799

  13. MT:

    “Seems battle for SF job is a 2-man race: Brandon Rush v. Harrison Barnes. Sources say Rush has advantage because Rush is clearly the better defender at this point. The starting lineup needs someone who can really make it tough for opposing perimeter stars, and Rush is even better with Andrew Bogut backing him up. Plus, to this point, Rush is shooting better.

    If Barnes did start, it would likely be because Mark Jackson already knows that Rush can thrive off the bench. Bringing Barnes off the bench, adding the task feeling a game out and getting going after sitting, might take away Barnes’ aggressiveness and impact.
    Jackson said he hasn’t decided. He said he could easily start Barnes but he is in no rush to make a decision.”

  14. From sfgate.com: GS Warriors Tues practice

    Warriors coach Mark Jackson spent most of Tuesday’s post-practice interview session talking about rookies Harrison Barnes and Festus Ezeli, but he also said point guard Stephen Curry participated fully in practice. Curry played less than 12 minutes in Monday’s 83-80 victory over Utah.

    “He did everything and looked fine,” Jackson said. “I was very happy with what we got out of him (Monday) night. He came in this morning and his body responded.

    “It’s me. I’ll take the hits on that, but I’m just trying to be cautious and making sure he’s ready when we need him.”

    The Warriors two first-round picks have proven ready from the start. Barnes has provided scoring punch off of the bench, and Ezeli has given the team physicality and a defensive presence.

    “A lot of question marks about him said he wasn’t a good defender and that he couldn’t put the ball on the floor. They were absolutely wrong,” Jackson said of Barnes. “He’s a very good defender who can be exceptional. He competes, pays attention to detail, and we couldn’t have done a better job on draft day.”

    “Going back and watching film, he’s been spectacular,” Jackson said of Ezeli. “He’s the real deal. He’s absolutely the real deal. I can’t believe he was on the board at 30.”

    http://blog.sfgate.com/warriors/2012/10/09/gs-warriors-tuesday-practice-2/

  15. Biedrins is 100% done
    Bogut 75%
    Curry 50%

    But only with injuries to major stars could Mr. Lacob’s coach brilliance shine. Mr. Lacob’s game planning and play calling will ably compensate for the lack of contribution from those three heavy lifters. Mr. Lacob will show Nellie how to coach a bunch of no names and rookies to championship.

  16. MJackson announced today that HBarnes will get the start tomorrow night in preseason game #3. For me the debate over Rush and Barnes for who starts at the 3 is the least of my concerns going into the new season. Both players will get lots of playing time as the season unfolds but in the end their performance will dictate who plays more, and even more importantly, who’s on the court when 4th qtr crunch time rolls around. This is also why the Warriors are so much better than they’ve been in recent (or distant) memory, depth.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/warriors/ci_21734917/golden-state-warriors-top-pick-learning-about-life

  17. From Steinmetz today:

    “Bogut is still targeting that game [opening game] to return, but it seems apparent there is a real possibility his Warriors’ debut could come later than that.”

  18. Steinmetz: Bogut still hoping he can play opening night.

    http://www.csnbayarea.com/basketball-golden-state-warriors/warriors-talk/Bogut-still-hoping-he-can-play-on-openin?blockID=787151&feedID=2799

    The most important thing is to have Bogut fully healthy and available for, if not all, then the vast majority of the regular season. I’m totally in sync with Bogut’s thinking. He doesn’t want to go through what Curry went through last year by coming back before being 100% healthy.

    I think both Bogut and the doctors are being overly cautious with their approach and rehab regimen, but again I believe they’re doing this right. Now Bogut is talking about “tightness” instead of “soreness”, another good sign they’re on the right track albeit the slowly-but-surely right track.

    Yes, it will take awhile for him to increase his minutes and become integrated within the team’s play but he’s on a team filled with new faces. It’s going to take everyone time to blend and work efficiently as a group so his late insertion into the mix won’t be that far removed from Barnes, Ezeli, Landry, Jack et al becoming “in tune” with their new teammates.

    This is a team that should get better as the season moves along and eventually be at their best later in the season. Hopefully. And just as hopefully Bogut will play a big part in all that by taking things slowly to ensure that once he starts playing he proceeds uninterrupted for the duration.

    • sigh.

      • From Steinmetz again:

        “Just running, dunking, cutting … those are the main three things that I have problems with and I’m starting to respond well to that.”

        I don’t see why you’re being so pessimistic, FB.

        • rgg, I love that quote you chose to post since it’s the perfect sentence to draw out both the optimists and pessimists from this area code.

          Do you focus more on his “problems”, or the fact that he stated he was “starting to respond well” to said problems?

  19. @ Frank, #9

    Biedrins looks completely washed up. If Bogut can’t play for awhile, Ezeli starts and I think Landry plays backup C. Then Green or Barnes backs up Lee.

  20. From MT:

    OAKLAND — About an hour after practice ended Wednesday, center Andrew Bogut and guard Jarrett Jack were still in the gym. Bogut worked on post moves, Jack on his shooting.

    That’s exactly what Richard Jefferson is talking about.

    “You didn’t see that last year,” Jefferson said. “Changing the culture is more than just about getting new players. There is a lot more that goes into it. … I feel like with these vets, there are more guys that kind of understand what I’m saying.”

    ——————————————-

    Jefferson, Bogut, Jack and Carl Landry have been vocal with hopes of instilling the proper mindset. They set the example by how they carry themselves, as well as put bugs in the ear of the younger players.

    Having these authority figures around has changed the tone. Their presence is especially important for the Warriors because of so many youngsters on the roster. Of the four rookies, at least two (forward Harrison Barnes and center Festus Ezeli) will be part of the regular rotation. One starting guard, Klay Thompson, is in his second year. The other, Stephen Curry has logged just over two seasons worth of games due to ankle injuries.

    “It’s a lot different having a lot of older guys in the locker room,” second-year point guard Charles Jenkins said. “Bogut is a lot more serious than any player. He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy. He jokes and all that. But once he gets on the court, all that stops. Same with (Jefferson).”

    ———————————————–

    Curry participated fully in practice Wednesday, his third straight session without limits. He is expected to increase his minutes in Thursday’s game after logging just 12 in Monday’s preseason win over Utah. “My game will start to come back to me,” Curry said. “I’m not far away.”

    http://www.mercurynews.com/warriors/ci_21743488/richard-jefferson-liking-golden-state-warriors-attitude?source=rss

  21. “Of the 11 D-League teams with single affiliations, the Santa Cruz Warriors will be one of five teams that are fully owned and operated by their NBA parent club, joining the Austin Toros (San Antonio Spurs), Canton Charge (Cleveland Cavaliers), Los Angeles D-Fenders (Los Angeles Lakers) and Tulsa 66ers (Oklahoma City Thunder).”

    http://blog.sfgate.com/warriors/2012/10/10/nba-d-league-approves-dakota-wizards-move-to-santa-cruz/

  22. Last week, point guard Deron Williams claimed that several players in the locker room were not focused on the task at hand. Not surprisingly, one of those players was not happy with his comments. The outspoken DeShawn Stevenson, now a member of the Atlanta Hawks, fired back on Twitter (via SLAM):

    I hate Fake M—-f—–s That Quit On team but talk [expletive] in Espn Mag .

    I hear ppl laughing but they ain’t talking!!! Win One Shots Fired

    If u gonna say ppl Quit say Names I Don’t Quit I work hard period when u say that my name in it and I work hard I don’t quit!!!

    Say Names Put Address on It!!!!

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nba-ball-dont-lie/deshawn-stevenson-strikes-back-deron-williams-calls-him-214939246–nba.html

    (JMO, but Deron Williams = overrated)