“Whenever you slow anything down, you waste human lives.” — George S. Patton
During halftime of this game, Gary St. Jean offered two keys for the Warriors against the Nets. The first was to “keep size on Brook Lopez.” The second was to “get up and down — you can’t play halfcourt.”
Do those two keys sound consistent to you? Do they make any sort of sense when paired together?
No, they do not. And fortunately for the Warriors in this game, Mark Jackson understood that. This may have been the best coached game in Jackson’s tenure.
Flash Pastor Jack
Coach Jackson fought a waiting game against this giant Nets team, tired on a road back-to-back, one day after battling the Lakers, and lacking their energizer, Gerald Wallace. Jackson gave the Nets’ behemoth front line of Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries a 16 minute taste of Festus Ezeli and David Lee to start the first and third quarters. Lets call it an artillery shelling. To soften the ground.
And for most of this game, the battle was waged by infantry in the trenches, on the Nets terms.
But in the third quarter, the nature of the combat began to shift. At 6:40, with Marcus Thompson no doubt screaming “Nooooooo!” in the wings, Stephen Curry walked right into a three and banged it home. And the Warriors smelled blood. On the last play of the quarter, Curry got his high pick (thank you), and pulled up for another three. AND ONE. Warriors 74-66.
The Warriors maintained that lead into crunchtime, and at 7:30 of the fourth quarter, General Jackson unleashed his cavalry. His best lineup. David Lee at center, Carl Landry at the four, Klay Thompson at small forward, Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack in the backcourt.
I could hear all of the Nellie haters groaning as I leaned back in my couch and grinned. General Jackson got it right.
Fighting Brook Lopez
How do you fight against an entrenched and fortified enemy? Do you charge right into them, like Robert E. Lee did at Gettysburg?
No. That is inviting a massacre, which is what Lee got. Why concede the enemy the advantage in battle?
Great generals look for ways to go around the enemy. Like Guderian and Rommel went around the Maginot line. Like Patton’s Seventh Army outflanked the Germans (and Montgomery) in Sicily, storming into Messina via the back door. And like Patton’s Third Army punched through and encircled German divisions at the Battle of the Bulge, and in battle after battle after that on the road to Berlin.
Or go over the enemy. Like the 101st Airborne, dropping into Normandy behind the German Atlantic Wall.
In basketball, what are Brook Lopez and the Nets’ halfcourt defense but an entrenched and fortified enemy? A huge and immobile wall standing between the offense and its goal?
So how do you defeat the Nets? By following Gary St. Jean’s advice and matching up big against Brook Lopez?
Hell no. Not without a healthy Bogut. Why concede the Nets the advantage?
Instead, you do what Mark Jackson did. You put your five best players on the floor, and you beat Brook Lopez by going around and over him.
Over: Stephen Curry walk-up three at 6:40 3rd Q. Can Brook Lopez defend against this? Can any defense?
Around: 7:24 4th Q, Lee in the high post, pulls Lopez up to the foul line. Passes to Landry for the layup.
Over: 2:30 4th Q, Lee pulls Lopez out to the right wing, then buries a jumper in his face.
The Walk-up Three: I’ve been meaning to respond to Marcus Thompson’s recent rant against the Warriors’ frequent use of the walk-up three, and now is the perfect time.
Thompson starts with the premise that walk-up threes are converted at a lower rate than threes created by running offense. I think that’s arrant nonsense.
First of all, running offense creates the risk of turning the ball over. Can you turn the ball over while shooting a walk-up three?
Second, does Thompson have stats to prove his assertion? I think it is highly unlikely to be correct even on a statistical basis. Threes that are created by running offense are sometimes quite difficult, like those curls the Warriors run for Curry and Thompson requiring the shooter to catch moving away from the basket, stop, pivot and shoot. Tough even for great shooters. Sometimes threes are difficult because they are contested. And they are frequently difficult when forced against an expiring shot clock. All of these shots lower Curry’s and Klay’s shooting percentage significantly.
Which means that their shooting percentage on wide-open threes must be far higher than their overall percentage. Is that all due to wide-open catch and shoot threes? I think not.
I’m willing to bet that Curry and Thompson both convert walk-up threes at a percentage higher than their overall percentage from three. Higher than 40%.
But I’ll settle for 40%, and I think Mark Jackson will too. Because 40% from three is easily the BEST shot in basketball. It converts at 1.2 points per possession. Do you really think the Warriors can do better putting on the brakes and running offense?
Highest conversion. No risk of turnover. Completely indefensible, by even the greatest defenses in the league. There is no better shot in basketball than a Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson walk-up three.
Bravo, Mark Jackson, for letting it fly. Don Nelson would be proud.
Memo to Fitz: The best shot in basketball, the Curry/Thompson walk-up three, actually misses 50-60% of the time. Try not to erupt in hysterics every time that happens. Thank you.
David Lee: 20-13-6, following a 17-17-3 against Dallas. Seventh straight double double. Played 43 minutes. +16.
Ho hum. Stat padding, obviously. Never puts up numbers in the clutch. Bad defender. Overpaid. Carl Landry should take his minutes. There’s your Adam Lauridsen recap in a nutshell.
At what point do the Lee detractors start to look ridiculous? Does it matter at all that Lee is a total gamer? Never gives less than 100%? Is a great teammate? Does whatever is asked of him? Is one of the most unselfish players in the league? One of the smartest? One of the best passers?
Among the top five power forwards in the entire league in both points and rebounds, every single season?
Yes Adam, Don Nelson traded away Anthony Randolph for David Lee. Ever going to get over it?
By the way, for those of you who think David Lee pads his stats, take a look at that rebound off a missed free throw that he simply handed to Klay Thompson last night in garbage time. 2:00 4th Q. Think that happens around the NBA a lot? Everyone knows that’s the big man’s board.
Hey, Klay needed it. It was his only rebound in 39 minutes.
Klay Thompson: It was good to see Klay’s shot dropping. He’s simply not a very good player when it’s not.
Jackson said that the reason Klay Thompson was guarding Deron Williams in the fourth quarter last night was because Curry wasn’t 100%. Hmmm.
I’m sure that was true about Curry, but whom would you rather Thompson have guarded? Joe Johnson? CJ Watson? Marshon Brooks? DWill was the best choice, because so what if he looks for his own shot? Maybe that’s what you want. He didn’t anyway, so this turned out to be a great way to hide Klay.
For most of the game he was hidden on Bogans, and Harrison Barnes guarded Johnson. Another way in which the Nets lack of Wallace hugely helped the Warriors.
When Jackson goes with the Jack-Curry backcourt should Thompson continue to be the choice at small forward, over Barnes? Probably yes. Better handle, better playmaking. You can hide his defense at small forward. So long as he doesn’t forget to rebound.
Stephen Curry: 2:30 4th Q, Curry drives the lane, crashes hard off the Lopezasaurus, then on the way down throws in a left-handed bank.
How great a player would Stephen Curry be without his bum ankle, and Don Nelson as his coach?
Hall of Fame great.
How great will he be with it, and Mark Jackson as his coach?
Watching that play out on a day to day basis defines what it is to be a Warriors fan.
Carl Landry: +12 when playing alongside David Lee in this game. The Warriors best lineup.
Did he take a jumper? I didn’t see it.
Festus Ezeli: -8 to start the game, when he let Lopez sneak around him for layups several times. +5 in the third quarter. This kid learns fast. Very, very fast.
An absolute force on the offensive boards. 7 last game. 5 this game.
Was it me who said he didn’t have a low post game? 10:30 3rd Q: spinning left-handed jump hook in the lane! 7:11 3rd Q: Right-handed jump hook over Lopez from the right box! Hmmm.
Still think he’d be better getting the ball on the move. Speed was his edge against Lopez.
And, according to Mike D’Antoni, post-ups are the least efficient shot in basketball. Stick that in your computer, Kirk.
The Brand: Continues to impress on offense. He’s taking out a patent on that up and under layup against the trees.
I came across some disturbing defensive stats, though. Let’s watch that end of the floor going forward.
Jarret Jack: Did a great job running the team, but I think he’s playing with one hand tied behind his back. I’ve seen him turn down shots, which makes me feel he’s being discouraged from taking them.
I don’t agree with this. Yes, there are better shooters on the floor. But Jack is capable of taking a game over. I’ve seen him do it. And there will come a time, against the better defenses, when that is exactly what the Warriors need him to do.
To have a great offense, your point guard must be dangerous.
Beans: Not quite a Goose Egg, with that one lonely rebound. But close enough, and that’s two in a row. Can a “groin strain” be far behind?
I hate the idea of Beans on the second unit anyway. He’s only useful against front-line centers. Backup centers should be run off the court. Like last night!
Draymond Green: 4 rb in 14 minutes. That steal. That three. More minutes!
“On the way to Bastogne, we would see Patton along the side of the road waving us on. I don’t know how he got ahead of us all the time, but he did. Patton was right there breaking it up and getting things moving again. He was a relentless man…and a great general. Patton had a theory that the Germans didn’t shoot as well on the run. That’s why he never wanted to stop. The only time he stopped in the field was when he ran out of gas.” — Sgt. John Beck Jr.
I’m headed out of town for the holidays, and won’t be recapping for a couple of weeks.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!