To echo a refrain of my last post, the biggest difference between the Utah Jazz and the newly Bogutted Golden State Warriors, is that the Jazz know who they are as a basketball team.
Or as Mark Jackson put it post-game: “We’ve got to find ourselves.”
The Andrew Bogut Myth:
“He just didn’t have his quickness.” — Jim Barnett at 6:20 1Q, watching Al Jefferson go right through Bogut for a layup.
“He wasn’t moving well.” — Mark Jackson
“Bogut has problems with lateral mobility.” — Gary St. Jean
“Bogut wasn’t in position to rebound nor defend.” — Gary St. Jean
“Bogut was lumbering.” — Greg Papa.
“I see a guy who’s not completely healthy.” — Greg Papa
“Some nights he’s going to be stiff.” — Gary St. Jean
Do I really need to add my own observations now that the Warriors PR machine has given up on trying to hide the obvious?
I’ll try to make this concise, as I’ve already had a lot to say on this subject. Andris Biedrins, when he was healthy, regularly destroyed Al Jefferson with his length, quickness and smarts. Festus Ezeli, a raw rookie, has given Jefferson trouble in previous games, with his strength, quickness and smarts.
Al Jefferson made Andrew Bogut his bitch.
And not just Jefferson, but the entire Jazz team, who took it right at Bogut from the opening tip. Even the 6-7″ Paul Millsap knocked Bogut on his ass under the basket, and calmly fielded the offensive rebound and layed it up.
Bogut was brought in at 7:00 2Q, and then yanked after three minutes. My take? He was completely gassed.
At 8:25 3Q, Al Jefferson lured Bogut up to the free throw line, then simply went around him for the dunk. He was yanked at the next stoppage, and left on the bench for the rest of the game.
Was it simply because he “wasn’t moving well,” or is this a sign that Mark Jackson is going to employ The Feltbot Solution, and regularly bench Bogut in the fourth quarter going forward?
It’s also worth mentioning that just as Bogut has brought the entire Warriors defense down with him, so has he done with the Warriors offense.
It is, in fact, no longer recognizable as the Warriors offense when he’s in the game. Gone is the uptempo, the quick threes, the pick and roll. In its place is Exhibit A, the first quarter of this game, in which the starting lineup managed 9 points. The Warriors transformed into a miserable half court team, saddled with a center too slow to run, too immobile for pick and roll, down to one useful arm (his off-arm) in the low post, and unable to shoot in the high post.
Did you notice what happened in the second quarter? With the Warriors on the verge of getting blown out, Mark Jackson very quickly went to his fourth quarter unit of old: Lee, Landry, Thompson, Curry and Jack. And the Warriors just as quickly got right back into the game.
Which unit is the real Warriors team?
The Myth of the Warriors Defense:
As I predicted, the Warriors three point “defense” has fallen precipitiously. As it must, when your strategy is to pack the lane, and leave the three point shooters completely unguarded. Utah was 10-21 in this game, for 48%.
A couple of games back, Mark Jackson attempted to deny that this has been the Warriors strategy. I think that’s laughable, when game after game we see the same thing. Utah’s three point shooters were virtually never guarded in this game, and their team did a great job of finding them.
I refer you to this humorous exchange at 9:16 2Q:
Roye: “Burks unguarded.”
[Burks buries the three.]
Barnett: “All five Warriors in the lane.”
Is the recent success of the Warriors’ opponents in burying the Warriors under an avalanche of threes simply a case of reversion to the mean? A reversal of the extraordinary luck on three point shots the Warriors experienced in the first half of the season? Or is there something more at work here as well?
Perhaps the league has now scouted the Warriors’ new defense, and in particular their zone, and is starting to actively game-plan against it. I cannot recall the Jazz of the last few years ever moving the ball this well, or finding their perimeter shooters like they did in this game.
A couple of other points:
1) Whenever the Warriors broadcasters refer to the Warriors defense as being “a step slow,” please recognize that this is a euphemism for the effect of Bogut on the team.
2) I heard it suggested by commentators that one of the reasons why the Warriors defense is falling apart is that they’re turning the ball over more, and giving up more fast breaks as a result. My take: They are turning the ball over more because they are walking the ball up the court, shooting fewer early threes, and struggling with an unworkable half-court offense. The same reason why the Warriors turned the ball over far more under Keith Smart than they did with D-Leaguers and a rookie point guard under Don Nelson.
Yes, Andrew Bogut is the reason they are turning the ball over more.
Stephen Curry and Jarrett Jack: Incredible performances from both Curry and Jack, particularly given the fact that almost nothing came easy. How many of their shots do you remember to be wide open? They had to work for literally everything in this game off the dribble.
David Lee: Have you noticed how many times the broadcasters have told us that David Lee is tired lately? I’m getting a little worried about that. Even in this game, I thought he lacked a little of his characteristic speed, force and energy. And we heard the “tired” word mentioned again.
Do you remember Lee’s abdominal injury last year, that led to surgery? It was caused by overwork, after Joe Lacob stripped the Warriors bench of playable big men for the second straight year at the trading deadline.
Well, Lee has again been overworked to start this year. Because of Lacob’s decision not to reinforce the Warriors frontline, despite knowing as of last April that Bogut had microfracture surgery on his ankle, and would be unlikely to start the season.
And I noticed something back in the Memphis game. During a defensive possession where Lee was banging with Marc Gasol in the lane. A wince, and a glance down.
I sure hope I’m wrong about this.
The Biedrins-Ezeli conundrum: I happen to believe that the Warriors could have won this game by playing Ezeli in Bogut’s place. But maybe that’s just me.
But surely everyone is perplexed that Biedrins is playing ahead of Ezeli lately?
I’m hoping that the reason for this is the obvious one: that Biedrins is being showcased, and that the natural order will be restored after the trading deadline.
It does make me laugh, though, the thought that any NBA GM in his right mind could possibly be so stupid as to take the permanently crippled Biedrins with another full year left on his contract.
The Brand: Once again, zero rebounds for 19 minutes. Klay Thompson, his inferior in size, quickness and vertical leap, managed 7.
And once again, completely invisible on defense.
What is Harrison Barnes going to hang his hat on in the NBA?
Mark Jackson: Coach Jackson said some extremely interesting things in his post-game interview. Particularly this:
Guys are going to have to play for their minutes…. [We're] going to find five guys on the floor who are going to scratch, claw and compete.
As Marcus Thompson is fond of saying, Shots Fired. I think it’s pretty obvious, after watching him get benched repeatedly in this game, that Andrew Bogut is directly in the crosshairs of these remarks.
But I have a sneaking suspicion that Jackson had Harrison Barnes in mind as well.
The Theology of Basketball: Has anyone else noticed that God has been remarkably silent on the Warriors as of late? Is he no longer “using this team to show folks he can do the same thing in their lives?” Has he taken his hands off of this Warriors team, and put them on some other team?
I have only recently taken up the subject of the theology of basketball, at the instigation of Pastor Jackson, and I know I have a lot to learn, but I have to admit these questions have been plaguing me. They’ve left me confused and perplexed.
And I’m beginning to suffer from doubt.
But hey, tomorrow we’re at home against the Phoenix Suns — an utterly terrible team, on a road back to back.
Surely God will have something to say about that?