I think we can all agree after this fiasco that the one team the Warriors don’t want to see in the playoffs is the Thunder. They simply match up horribly against them. In this game, the playoff-ready Thunder ruthlessly exposed every major hole on the Warriors’ poorly constructed roster.
There are three:
1) Bogut at center: I missed Bogut’s 8 minutes in this game, so I can’t comment on how he played, except to note that he was -7. And when TNT tuned into the game at 2:55 1Q, the Warriors were sitting on 15 points, down 22-15. These excruciatingly slow starts are a bit of a theme for the Bogutted Warriors, aren’t they.
The Thunder play a bit of 4 on 5 themselves, but note that Perkins doesn’t cripple their spacing like Bogut does the Warriors, since Ibaka spreads the floor. Nor does Perkins cannabalize Ibaka’s game the way Bogut cannabalizes David Lee’s game, because Ibaka isn’t a pick and roll player.
It should also be noted that Bogut simply can’t be played against the Thunder in the fourth quarter, when they go to Ibaka at the five and Durant at four. There’s simply no one for either Bogut or David Lee to guard. We saw this problem play out tonight for Ezeli, Biedrins and Landry as well — all of whom are far more mobile than Bogut.
Bottom line, the Thunder are a horrible matchup for Bogut. They could run him off the court any time they wanted.
2) No two-guard: The Warriors are literally the only team in the NBA that doesn’t have a two-guard on their roster. Unless you want to count rookie 12th man Kent Bazemore, who is almost certain not to be in the playoff rotation.
Not having a two-guard absolutely killed the Warriors in this game. First, because Klay Thompson was forced to guard Westbrook. Klay is long, yes, and does an incredible job with his gifts. But this is ultimately not a winning answer. Just look at what the extraordinary energy expenditure did to his shooting on the other end.
But also because Barnes and Green were frequently forced to pick up Westbrook and Kevin Martin on switches. Their foul trouble was not completely due to having to guard Kevin Durant. The Thunder had a completely dominant quickness advantage on the perimeter. KMart could drop forty at will against this Warriors team. He was wide open all game.
Brandon Rush was lost in the second game of the season. Joe Lacob had all season long to plug this hole. Why didn’t he?
Could it have anything to do with his obsession with the salary cap, that led him to strip the Warriors bench even further at the trading deadline, for the third straight year ? (Could the Warriors have used Charles Jenkins in this game?)
3) No spread four: I’ve discussed ad nauseam how the Warriors lack of a spread four hurts their offense, and in particular the beautiful pick and roll game of Curry and Lee.
It also cripples their defense, as was never made more evident than by this game. If you want to see something absolutely comical, rewind the tape to the early fourth quarter. You will see the Thunder playing a front line of Collison at 5, and Durant at 4. You will see the Warriors going with their erstwhile finishing lineup, Lee, Landry, Thompson, Curry and Jack.
And you will see David Lee guarding Derek Fisher.
Because who else could he guard, if Landry is on Collison?
Klay Thompson was used as the spread four, guarding Kevin Durant, in this Warriors lineup. It’s a role that you might think the 6-8″, 210 lb. — with a 40 inch vertical leap — Harrison Barnes might be suited for.
But we all know he’s not, don’t we? Playing power forward, rebounding, playing defense — not part of his brand.
Stephen Curry: Early in the season I responded to a Marcus Thompson rant about Curry jacking up threes in transition. It was my contention that a Stephen Curry walk-up three was the best shot in basketball. Converted at over 1.2 points per possession. At the time, I was basing my argument on my eyes and my judgement, not having the stats to back me up.
On the TNT broadcast, Steve Kerr mentioned that Mark Jackson told him that Curry is best shooting in transition, “when he can step into those threes.” I’m assuming that Kirk Lacob showed him the stats.
And I think it’s worth mentioning that Don Nelson had a complete grasp of this concept before the computer was even invented.
Thank you Don Nelson, for all the wonderful players — like Stephen Curry — you drafted. And thank you for the unique brand of beautiful, WINNING basketball you invented, and allowed us all to witness.
The brand of basketball that is now winning titles in the NBA, and becoming established wisdom in this new age of the quant.
Festus Ezeli: Take another look at that pick and roll with Curry that Ezeli completed near the end of the 2nd Q.
Now take another look at Ezeli guarding Kevin Durant on a pick and roll at 7:00 3Q. Ezeli goes out to pick up Durant at the free throw line, forces him out of the lane, and pressures him into throwing away a pass.
Two things that Andrew Bogut can’t do.
Festus Ezeli ain’t Andrew Bogut. But Andrew Bogut ain’t Festus Ezeli either.
The Andrew Bogut Myth: Speaking of the devil, Bogut went out with a left ankle “sprain” in the first quarter. The word from Warriors sources is he suffered it in the TWolves game.
Hmm. Is it nasty of me to be skeptical of this “sprain”? No, it isn’t. Not given Joe Lacob’s track record of lying about Warriors injuries. Given that sordid record, in fact, it would actually be quite kind and generous of us to believe that Bogut sprained his ankle.
If you didn’t already hear the news, I’ll repeat here what I wrote in the last thread regarding the interview Bogut gave last night to Jim Barnett on Warriors Roundtable: He admitted, in so many words, that his ankle is still killing him. He has good days and bad days. He doesn’t go out after games or practice, because he needs to stay off it. He feels as if he doesn’t have his legs under him enough to play in the low post.
When asked if he ever had doubts that he would make it back, he answered, “I still have doubts.”
Bogut might have an ankle sprain. But he also has osteoarthritis.
By the way, Charles Barkley spent a lot of time last night stating that the Warriors need a big man. Here’s a couple of characteristic quotes:
They need a big guy. They’ve got to get some help for David Lee down low.
They’ve got to get a center to go with David Lee.
Doesn’t Barkley realize that the Warriors have Andrew Bogut on their roster? That they are finally built “the right way”?
Maybe Adam Lauridsen can set him straight.
Klay Thompson: Take another look at what was a terribly frustrating sequence for Klay, but which nevertheless made feltbot sit up and take note.
At 10:51 3Q, Klay moves his feet to stay in front of a Russell Westbrook drive, then caps his pull-up J at the top. It was wrongly called a foul.
The following possession, Klay drove the lane and went right at Thabeet for the one-hand thunder jam. It hit the back rim and bounced out.
These plays didn’t work out, but yes. Yes, young man, yes.
The Brand: At 7:50 4Q, Barnes attempted to post up Derek Fisher. Fisher goaded him into an offensive foul. Nothing unusual, Fisher’s been doing this for years, and not just to raw rookies.
But take note of this play. Because in the playoffs, you may see Harrison Barnes guarded by the point guard a lot. It is simply the best way to guard the Warriors: Your long all-pro defensive two guard (Iguodala, Green) taking Curry. Your all-pro defensive three (Chandler, Leonard) stifling Klay Thompson. And your point guard (Andre Miller, Tony Parker) guarding The Brand.
Tony Parker? Yes, Greg Popovich guarded Barnes with Tony Parker for several possessions in the last game. Mark Jackson responded by sending Barnes into the low post to punish the cross-match three times.
Parker stripped him twice.
And that was the end of that.