Clipped Wings: Pacers 108 Warriors 97

First off, let’s acknowledge that if the Warriors lose every remaining game on this road trip, it won’t mean much to their playoff chances. They already took care of business by beating the Spurs at home and the TWolves on the road. Anything more on this trip would be gravy, because once they get home again they’ll have one of the easiest schedules in the Western Conference down the home stretch.               

The Pacers are the most efficient defensive team in the league, judging by their opponent’s points per possession of 0.950. (The Warriors have fallen all the way to 20th, at 1.032). Some of that has to do with their giant front line of Hibbert and West, and the halfcourt pace they play at. George Hill is a pretty decent defender at the point.

But I think what sets the Pacers apart defensively are their extraordinary two-way wings, Paul George, Danny Granger and Lance Stephenson. Extraordinary length, extraordinary defensive ability. If you ask me, that is the single biggest factor separating the Warriors — with their hand-picked by Joe Lacob wings, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes — from the Pacers defensively.

And I confess I find it amusing that the man who insisted so loudly that the Warriors change their “culture” drafted two poor defensive wings with his first two lottery picks. Something the man “who doesn’t care about defense,” Don Nelson, never did once in all of his decades as an NBA GM. Not once. Here’s the list of first round wing players Nellie drafted: Marques Johnson, Sidney Moncrief, Mitch Richmond, Latrell Sprewell, and Josh Howard. All-stars all, and all-NBA defenders all.

You draft two-way players on the wings. Guys like Kawhi Leonard, Terrence Ross, Mo Harkless (who destroyed Evan Turner tonight). That’s how you build an NBA team.

(Pass it on.)

Stephen Curry: Not much question who the leader of the Warriors was in this game, was there?

Curry appeared to have the eye of the tiger tonight right from the opening tip. It looked a bit like a Davidson game, didn’t it, where he had to do everything by himself? There was zero pick and roll available, as Hibbert didn’t have to guard anyone outside the lane, and was always lurking.

I’d like to see Curry show this kind of demeanor even on nights when he doesn’t have it going. That’s what great players, and leaders, do.

Amazing that only one game after I stated the obvious question of whether you’d ever see Curry get into the shirt of a big man like Jack did with Stiemstra, Curry took on the 7’2″ 280 lb. Roy Hibbert in that fourth quarter skirmish. Although I’m pretty sure his original intent when he tried to wrap Hibbert up was simply to be a peacemaker. After he got knocked down, though, I’m not convinced that when he went right back at Hibbert it was with peace in his heart.

It was great to see Curry and Biedrins — two of the most mild-mannered gentlemen in the league — get right into the thick of things. Good for them, and good for the team.

One last little point: I have always maintained that Curry is a terrific defender when he gets posted up by bigger men. Take a look at that defensive stand against Lance Stephenson at 10:05 3Q.

That takes heart too.

Jack: There was no “Hammertime” from J.Hammer in this game. Struggled quite a bit offensively.

He also struggled more than usual on defense, against Indiana’s long, long twos. The Warriors could have really used Brandon Rush in this game.

Wait a minute, Rush has been out since the start of the year. Let me rephrase: In this game, the Warriors really missed Joe Lacob having had their backs earlier in the season, and going out and signing a two-way two-guard to reinforce their bench, the way every other GM of a team headed to the playoffs would have.

Festus Ezeli: Take a look at the defense he played at 9:45 2Q. He left his man, Ian Mahinmi, to stop a guard from penetrating, then recovered out to the free throw line to pick Mahinmi back up when the ball was swung back to him, then stuck with Mahinmi’s drive and forced him into a badly missed runner.

That’s something Ezeli has done all season long, that the Andrew Bogut Myth is incapable of.

The Brand: 11:45 3Q, Barnes lets Paul George outwork him for an offensive rebound. Does Draymond Green let that happen?

2 rebounds for Barnes in this game, against George’s 11.

7:30 3Q: On a Curry led fast break, Barnes drifts the wrong way at the three point line, leading to a thrown away pass. A quite obvious rookie mistake. You always want to follow the driver towards the baseline, to stay in his range of vision, and make the pass out easier. And it’s a shorter shot! Does Richard Jefferson make that mistake?

I’ve had a lot to say about Barnes in recent weeks, and I’ve been accused of picking on him excessively. Whether or not you believe that to be the case, I think there’s a valid reason to bring up these two plays tonight:

Would any other organization fighting to make the playoffs play this rookie ahead of the other options on the Warriors bench?

Is it Mark Jackson’s agenda to play this rookie, or Joe Lacob’s?

Klay Thompson: 5:40 3Q, blows ANOTHER wide-open right-handed layup. This is getting absurd, and I’m beginning to fear for Jim Barnett’s blood pressure.

Why can’t he just take it straight to the glass like a normal person, instead of flipping up high-arcing, off the glass finger-rolls? It doesn’t have to be this hard.

David Lee: A tough matchup and a tough game for Lee, who didn’t get his number called very often.

But he also didn’t get much help from the gameplan.

Mark Jackson: I’ve got to give Jackson a D for this game.

Is there a rule that says you always have to stick to the same rotation? Can the Warriors win this game matching up big against the Pacers? Not often I don’t think. About as often as you get 40 point performances from Curry.

I think they could have played small a lot more, at least Lee/Landry small, and tried to accomplish two things:

  1. Run Roy Hibbert and David West to death. You know, like the Miami Heat do?
  2. Get David Lee matched up with Hibbert in the pick and roll. That way maybe Curry can get more than 2 assists, and won’t have to carry the entire load himself.

The real problem with this strategy, of course, is that the Warriors don’t have any true spread fours, who could pull West all the way out, and leave Hibbert alone to be humiliated by one of the best pick and roll big men in the league. Although I’m pretty sure Nellie would have tried to feed Richard Jefferson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes to David West at some point. Maybe the whole game. Wouldn’t that have been fun to watch?

If you’re not going to play small, then for Chr… goodness’ sake get the matchups right. The Warriors crossmatch their big men against the Clippers, using Biedrins and Ezeli on Blake Griffin. Why not do the same thing against the Pacers? Yes, Hibbert is a far better offensive player than DeAndre Jordan for Lee to cover. But he’s having a horrible offensive year, and you can always give help.

David West, unlike David Lee, really struggles one-on-one against length. Don Nelson used Andris Biedrins to destroy him in fourth quarters, remember?

I know, those tapes have been burned.

29 Responses to Clipped Wings: Pacers 108 Warriors 97

  1. FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

    “Run Roy Hibbert and David West to death. You know, like the Miami Heat do?”

    oh Really that is why Indiana is 2-0 against the Miami Heat this year winning easily both times 87-77 and 102-89.

    Maybe you should suggest something that actually works.

    “In this game, the Warriors really missed Joe Lacob having their back, and going out and signing a two-way two-guard to reinforce the Warriors bench, the way every other GM of a team headed to the playoffs would have.”

    I guess you don’t include the Chicago Bulls among every other team? They did nothing at the trade line.

    While you are at it please enlighten us on who the Warriors missed out on adding? Maybe they should have just added Lebron James since you live in fantasy land.

  2. FFG,
    Maybe you should look at the scores from last year’s playoff series between the heat and pacers, when the games really mattered.

    Oh wait — you were probably only 2 years old then.

    • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

      This is 2013 not last seasons playoffs. Do you want to live in the past or the present? If you want to talk about the past. We should discuss how OVERRATED Don Nelson was. Don Nelson NEVER won an NBA Title. Don Nelson ALWAYS CHOKE in the playoffs when it mattered. There is a reason for that. Or perhaps we could discuss how Phil Jackson OWNED Don nelson. Even better how about if talk about how the We Believe playoff run never would have happened if they had played anybody but the Dallas Mavericks in the 1st Round.

  3. FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

    I guess you use the term All Star loosely. There are plenty of unworthy NBA players that have been named to an ALL STAR Game once. I would not consider him an elite or All Star player unless he does it more than once. By the way Josh Howard NEVER was an NBA ALL DEFENSIVE 1st or 2nd team player so this statement is a LIE

    “Marques Johnson, Sidney Moncrief, Mitch Richmond, Latrell Sprewell, and Josh Howard. All-stars all, and all-NBA defenders all.”

  4. The Warriors have repeatedly been outscored by their opponents in the first quarter, only to come back and make the game close at halftime. Then, they put the same starting line-up in the third quarter, only to go down once again. This has gone on to long and needs to stop.

    The main reason the Warriors go down in the first and third quarter is that the Warriors have the wrong starting line-up.

    Simply put, with either Biedrins or Ezeli are playing center, or Lee is playing center, neither Barnes nor Thompson are helping out along the front line, when either plays small forward. They are just two small as Felty correctly points out and and can’t aid the interior big in defending inside.

    This is reflected in Indiana’s high shooting percentage which I believe was above 48%. The Warriors are going to have a hard time winning if they don’t play good defense.

    Both Jefferson and D. Green, both good defenders, should get substantial time playing SF. As the Warriors outscored Indiana with both D. Green (he shot poorly), and Jefferson (he took no shots) playing SF.

    The Warriors did not outscore Indiana with either Barnes nor Thompson on the court. Even with Barnes shooting 3-4 from the field, the Warriors were outscored when he played. In fact, the Warriors were far outscored when Thompson was on the court. Surely, their respective lack of defense was part of the reason the Warriors were outscored.

    A poster has pointed out that Thompson shoots poorly in the fourth quarter and has attributed this to his being tired. As such, the Warriors should consider not starting Thompson at SG in the first and third quarters, and should instead bring him off the bench. Hopefully with more rest his shooting will improve in the fourth quarter.

    Jack should be moved into the starting line-up in place of Thompson, and either Jefferson or Green inserted in place of Barnes.

    Jackson has expressed no interest in starting either Jack or Barnes, so the Warriors problems heading into the fourth quarter should remain to be a major block to their success.

    It’s really starting to look that the Warriors in the last two years drafted the wrong players.

  5. Topper o' The World

    R. Jefferson (career 3-pt % .371, last year over .400) would have been a nice choice to play the 4 last night. Whether or not he could sink his shots, David West would have had to cover him, opening up the paint for Lee to work against Hibbert. And then if someone at the SF spot could get a rebound now and then, the Ws would at least have had a chance. Like Nelson used to say, “their bigs are better than our bigs.” Why play to the other team’s strengths?

    M Jackson seems to have some mental block against smallball and spread 4s. Maybe anything that looks too much like Nellieball really is taboo in our “new look” Warriors. I had hoped that with the lessons learned already this season, the coaching staff would have had the liberty to play it smart. Guess not.

  6. It’s wasn’t Curry’s first encounter with Hibbert:

    http://www4.pictures.gi.zimbio.com/Stephen+Curry+Andrew+Lovedale+NCAA+Basketball+rHRgCSstLOQl.jpg

    Any kind of scorer would improve the team, preferably one with a little size and experience, and may have made a difference last night and may make a difference the rest of the season. The second unit really struggles.

    What might have happened if Green started last night in place of Barnes? There would have been more toughness on the floor.

  7. Piece discussing playoff prospects of Warriors and others:

    http://nba.si.com/2013/02/27/playoff-projections-lakers-knicks-warriors-pacers-grizzlies/

    “Despite having the same lineup and rotation as before, coach Mark Jackson’s club has reverted to miserable defensive form, allowing more points per possession than all but five teams over the last 20 games.”

  8. Per HoopsHype, the Warriors have made 2nd rd pick Ognjen Kuzmic an offer to play in the NBA next season.

    Never heard of this guy, or the pick. Anyone know anything?

  9. Happen to agree with this tweet from Haralabos Voulgaris @haralabob:

    “If analysts knew what they were talking about they wouldn’t be analysts, they’d be gamblers”

    • if you refer to hibbert using the term ‘light skinned guy’, it’s difficult to know from the printed word if he meant it pejoratively, but that’s how it struck me. the mirror image of the paleface-euro racial purity hogwash, as if people could know all their ancestors by the skin tone of the living generation.

      now, if your intention was to imply that hibbert got ejected and faces suspension, while lee and curry will not, because he’s darker-toned than they, please substantiate. not denying that it’s possible. or is there another form of profiling going on in the inner councils of the lacobites, that they favor the more polished, articulate types like lee, curry, thompson, barnes ? green, another of the articulate mold, seems sufficiently feisty and combative when he’s on the court, but savvy enough to understand if he left the bench during the fracas there’d be heavy sanctions to face.

  10. Great article making you see Rudy Gay in a different light:

    http://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/2013/02/25/rudy_gay_shooting_woes_grange/

    • gay’s decline was apparent last season. loss of flexibility and strength in the shoulder used to shoot is a serious impairment — his comment about it being career-ending if he were a pitcher is revealing. it’s related to why we should not expect bogut to completely regain his scoring proficiency of his career prior to his severe elbow injury.

  11. Ouch, DLee suspended for tonight’s Knicks game.

    Might be good timing for him, as he also apparently hurt his shoulder.

    http://www.fantasysp.com/player/nba/David_Lee/2704866/lee-suspended-against-knicks

  12. Felty: Great quote about analysts.

    The Warriors best line-up in the fourth quarter must include both Lee and Landry they are both high percentage shooters and offensive rebounders. It was not until the last two games that the light went off in Jackson’s head that he need to play both players together. I believe Jackson didn’t play them as much as he should have in the fourth quarter last night.

    But given that the Warriors go small in the fourth quarter, neither Barnes nor Thompson should play alongside at SF. Jefferson or D. Green should be. The ability of both Jefferson and D. Green, especially D. Green to garner extra possessions via offensive rebounds and steals, requires that they both be on the court, not Barnes, as he rarely has an offensive rebound or makes steals. And Barnes court sense is nowhere near either of those players..

    When either Jefferson or D. Green are on the court with both Landry and Lee, both are great offensive rebounders that provide the Warriors with extra possessions, thus reducing any shooting advantage our opponents may have by the Warriors playing a small line-up.

    Harkless was 3-4 last night from the field. He makes hardly and turnovers, and less than half the percentage of turnovers than Barnes does.

  13. Jefferson and Green should be playing 22 minuets each, and Barnes 11 minutes, rather than the other way around.

    Jackson has smartly decided not to play Barnes and Thompson together after the first quarter. He still mistakenly plays them together in the first quarter.

    The best line-up in the fourth quarter is Jack, Curry, Jefferson or Green, D. Lee, and Landry.

    • With Lee out, and Carmelo at 4, we could see some interesting lineups tonight.

      • chandler will very likely put biedrins in foul trouble, leaving ezeli and landry next in line at the 5. landry, green, barnes, jefferson might all get to try on anthony, probably in that order. since green took on james, why not anthony?

  14. Will Warriors score 85 points tonight?

  15. Feltie, hope you caught the game tonight. 54 points for Curry, a truly special event.

    What’s up with your boy Klay? 0-6 on 3s, 3-13 overall. Opened the game with two missed layups, finished with 2 missed 3s.

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