My schedule has been a bit crazy this holiday season, and will be through New Years, so please forgive the abbreviated recaps.
The most notable thing about this Sixers game is that Mark Jackson corrected his error of the Lakers game, benched his conventional centers in the fourth quarter, and went back to the crunchtime Nellieball lineup that has been responsible for so many wins this season.
And as has been shown so many times before, the Warriors’ two-point-guard backcourt is virtually unguardable by conventional backcourts. And with a spread floor, David Lee and Carl Landry are virtually unguardable by conventional frontcourts. And with opposing defenses forced to scramble all over the floor to help, Klay Thompson at the three is… not virtually unguardable, but quite literally left completely unguarded.
That, my friends, is a recipe for victory. Don Nelson’s recipe.
Fastbreak Points: The running game has been a real bugaboo for both myself and Jim Barnett the past few years. Simply because for the last three seasons the Warriors have had a running roster (despite Joe Lacob’s best efforts to destroy it with the Kwame Brown Era and the Andrew Bogut Myth), but have not been allowed to run by their rookie coaches.
There are signs — signs — that this is beginning to change. I’m seeing the guards beginning to leak out on occasion. I’m seeing David Lee — one of the top 5 outlet passers in the league — getting the occasional chance to throw an outlet pass. It’s still not close to where it should be, but it’s headed in the right direction.
A few weeks ago, the Warriors were 18th in the league in fast break points per game. They are now up to 12th. Last year, they averaged 13 fast break points per game. This year they’re averaging 14.4. And in the last three games, despite getting only 9 last night, they are averaging 19.
What should they be averaging? Houston is leading the league at 18.4. The Nuggets, 18.2. Clippers, 17.7. OKC 16.4.
Is there any reason why the Nellieball Warriors, possessed of the best shooting wings in the entire league, should be pushing the tempo less than these other teams?
No there is not. Unless of course your agenda is to show your boss a low “Field Goal % Against” stat at the end of the year.
I will have something to say about that completely bogus stat — which as of late has been much ballyhooed by the Warriors PR machine — in a later post.
Jarret Jack and Stephen Curry: It’s pretty amazing what Jack can do when he’s allowed to look for his own shot, isn’t it? And it should be noted that on most nights, Jack has the far easier matchup on the offensive end. Curry is being guarded by the point guard, Jack by the two guard, and you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of two guards who can guard point guards in this league.
Remember the theory that Monta had to be traded because the Warriors backcourt was too small? Hah. Remember the theory that Monta had to be traded to get the ball back in Curry’s hands? Hah.
Monta was never the problem with this team. Never.
David Lee: Empty stats? Lee carried the Warriors in crunch time last night, just as he could every night when Jackson gets the crunch time lineup right.
It was a crime that Jackson forced him to watch on the wings in the Lakers game as Curry tried to run pick and roll with Ezeli.
And it was a crime that Lee wasn’t featured in pick and roll offense for two long years.
Klay Thompson: Not the best night from Klay, but not the worst either, as he went 4-7 from three.
3 assists, and many of his best passes, coming off the dribble, were either fumbled or not finished.
Carl Landry: Anyone else noticing that his jumper has stopped falling? That has severely limited his usefulness to the Warriors in the last few weeks, and led to Green taking some of his fourth quarter minutes.
He was great around the hoop last night though, in a good matchup for him against Lavoy Allen, Kwame Brown and former Warriors-killer Thaddeus Young.
And he spreads the floor just enough to give David Lee room to operate.
Kwame Brown: Thank god some other poor team is having their Kwame Brown Era, and no longer us.
I see those 8 rebounds and that +4, but watching the game I felt that every minute he was on the floor Doug Collins was blowing his team’s chance to get back in the game.
And he did.
Andris Biedrins: It’s nice to see Beans enjoying a healthy stretch of games.
Festus Ezeli: Jackson has correctly stopped trying to post up Ezeli, and instead is trying to run pick and roll with him. Unfortunately, in the last couple of games Ezeli has been simply unable to catch the ball. Curious, as his hands looked pretty darn good earlier in the season.
The Brand: Earlier this year I uncharacteristically begged off pronouncing judgement on the lottery pick for whom Joe Lacob tanked an NBA season. I needed to watch a few more games.
I don’t need to see any more. My analysis will be dropping shortly.
Last night’s game was like many others we’ve seen from Barnes this season. One play in particular stood out to me, I think in the 3rd Q, if you want to hunt it down. Barnes got inside position on a rebound, timed his jump perfectly to get it, but had it simply ripped from his grasp by the player behind him.
Bobby Knight would note that he went up for it with one hand.
Happy New Year everyone!