Nothing like a couple of home games against wretched teams to cure what ails the Warriors. The Knicks without Amare and with Melo on one leg, and the Pistons without… eh, it doesn’t even matter who they were without. They’re the Greg Monroe Pistons. Soft as a marshmallow, and about as quick as one too.
Still, it was a little disturbing that the Warriors couldn’t put this team away early. And wound up winning by virtually the identical score with which they won earlier in the year in Detroit, with a rookie in the middle.
80% of Bogut: Bogut is one of the better completely stationary players in the league. He can rebound flat-footed. He can change shots and even block them flat-footed. He can pass beautifully out of the high post without moving an inch. And he can set a mean stationary screen. If he could shoot, he’d be almost playable. But, alas.
The Warriors have apparently decided to play him almost exclusively out of the high post. In fact, I saw them frequently use him and Lee in a double high post configuration, where Curry could decide which big man to work with. This is a clever way to open up the middle for Curry–Lee pick and roll, or drives and cuts by Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson. Particularly given the fact that Bogut is completely ineffective in the low post, as we’ve seen.
It also makes it a lot easier for Bogut to get back on defense, which is a big problem for him. It was even a problem tonight, against a team as wretchedly slow and unathletic as the Pistons.
Unfortunately, what we’ve seen in the last four games is that Bogut in the high post only works against horrible defensive teams, or teams with bad coaches. The reason is that Bogut simply doesn’t have to be guarded out there, leaving his man free to blitz Curry, or simply guard the paint while another perimeter player blitzes Curry, and everyone else rotates. It should be obvious that the difference between the 54 point explosion that Curry laid on the Knicks, and the utter offensive meltdowns the Warriors suffered against the Rockets and the Bucks, can be attributed almost entirely to the presence of Bogut on the floor.
On balance, I think Bogut was probably somewhat effective in this game. But I think he will remain a huge liability against the better teams, like the Rockets and Bucks, who can push the tempo against the Warriors. It is a virtual guarantee that he will get run off the floor by the Nuggets, Spurs or Thunder, should the Warriors draw them in the playoffs.
He is also completely susceptible on defense to teams that have quick and athletic guards. Even in this game, we saw the Warriors get eaten up in the paint by the midrange games of Bynum and Stuckey. Bogut just wasn’t able to move well enough to give help against them.
And as noted, against teams that aren’t the Knicks or the Pistons, he makes it easy to take Curry out of the game.
If the end of this game is any indication, though, it’s no given that Bogut will even still be around come playoff time. It was quite clear that his back had seized up on him. He was almost completely unable to run the court, and when he was removed from the game, he stood by the bench trying to stretch it out, giving us a triple-strength Bogut face. I don’t think that was his ordinary grimace.
And after the game it was noted that he was icing his back earlier in the game while on the bench.
Stephen Curry: Curry is this year’s anti-Bogut. He is as close to completely healthy as I ever remember seeing him. I was particularly impressed by all those drives he unleashed against the Knicks in MSG. He displayed a quickness that was completely missing in action the last few years.
Now if only we could get back to that open floor basketball that allowed those drives to happen.
Curry’s playing at such a high level right now that he’s virtually demanding a double team at the three point line. Opposing defenses would be well-advised to gameplan to get the ball out of his hands. Guard him with your off-guard, like Danny Green, Thabo Sefalosha or Andre Iguodala, and trap him whenever possible. The Warriors have an answer for that with their small lineup, but with the big lineup in, it’s been instant death.
It should be noted that Curry’s turnover problems have a lot to do Bogut’s presence in the lineup. He’s dealing with a lot more blitzes and traps. And in general, half-court offense leads to a lot more turnovers than early offense. As I’ve pointed out before, the Warriors had fewer turnovers playing with a rookie Curry and skeleton roster of D-leaguers in Nellie’s last year, than they have had in any year since then.
Bob Fitzgerald suffered one his spasms in this game after a Curry turnover on a left-handed pass. “One-handed pass… You just can’t get away with that in this league.” I guess Bob hasn’t noticed that virtually all assisted passes in this league are one-handed.
A few games ago I was watching the Warriors on the ESPN broadcast, when Curry drove the baseline and threw an unbelievable left-handed laser all the way out to Jarret Jack at the top of the key, for an open three-pointer. This was the great Jeff van Gundy’s comment:
Stephen Curry’s left-handed pass reminds me of Steve Nash’s. It’s a tremendous weapon.
Klay Thompson: Thompson had a bit of a stinker shooting the ball in this game, but he has been playing at an incredibly high level lately. I took some heat recently for calling his finishing problems “trivial”, and predicting they would rapidly disappear. Well, can you recall a blown layup in the last two weeks? Klay simply has too much talent not to correct that.
In the six games previous to this one, Klay shot 50% from the field. Even adding this down game to the equation, he is the 19th ranked fantasy player in the league over the last seven games, with these stat averages:
21 pts, .466%, 3.7 3s, 3.6 reb, 2.3 ast, 1.1 stl 0.7 blk, .833% ft.
Those are flat-out all-star numbers folks, from a player in his second year.
The Brand: Fitz and Barnett erupted in joy over Barnes’ four spoon-fed dunks in this game. My reaction? Playing with Curry, Thompson, and Lee he could get those every game. He could get six or seven of them, even.
Barnes, like Dorell Wright before him, is the player being left open by the defense. If he cuts smartly, as he did tonight, he should get a lot of dunks.
Earlier this season, he was attempting to fill the Dorell Wright role by hanging out at the three point line. But as we’ve learned, he’s an inefficient three point shooter. And he appears to have lost confidence in the shot.
He’s also terribly inefficient at those mid-post isos the Warriors have been feeding him for development purposes. I’m not sure they want to continue trying to develop his mid-post game as the playoff race tightens. Nor in the playoffs themselves. And in fact they completely went away from it in this game.
As the playoffs approach, Barnes should be restricted to looking for dunking opportunities in the flow of the offense. That’s something he can do, and it’s virtually the only thing he can reliably do at this point.
As for defense….
Did you notice he only got 19 minutes, despite his dunkathon, and despite the fact that Draymond Green sprained his ankle?
There you have it. Not from me, but from Mark Jackson.