The Curry Adjustment: Warriors 110 Nuggets 108 — Game 3

Great playoff basketball between evenly matched basketball teams always involves a chess match between the head coaches. Each coach tries to find the adjustments and counter-adjustments that can give his team a winning edge. If you are lucky, you can catch a series where the adjustments are so major and brilliant, and their effect so profound, that your expectations for how the games will be played are constantly smashed, and your brain starts whirling trying to adjust to each new reality as it unfolds.              

This series we are watching between the Denver Nuggets under George Karl and the Golden State Warriors under Mark Jackson is just such a series.

In the first game of this series, due to presence of David Lee and the absence of Kenneth Faried, the Warriors matched up big against small. The result was a 97-95 loss that was decided chiefly in the half-court, with Stephen Curry being taken out of the game by the blitzing of Wilson Chandler, and Andre Miller dominating his matchup against Jarret Jack around the basket.

In the second game, due to the injury to Lee, Mark Jackson made the brilliant decision to go small, with Harrison Barnes at the four, and to raise the Warriors tempo into an all-out running attack. The Chandler blitz was taken out of the equation by the use of centers rather than power forwards to set the high pick. And Jack was given help on Miller. The result was an explosion of offense led by Stephen Curry, and a 131-117 blowout victory on the Nuggets’ home court. And all of a sudden it felt like a brand-new series. One in which the Warriors might actually have the edge.                  

But George Karl was not content to accept this new reality of Warriors-Nuggets basketball, as dictated by Mark Jackson. In this Game 3, he sprang a major adjustment of his own. A huge surprise. Kenneth Faried returned to the starting lineup, as expected, but instead of returning to his normal position, power forward, he was played at center. Faried at center, guarding Andrew Bogut! Kosta Koufos was benched.

Karl made this surprising adjustment for several reasons. First and foremost, as an attempt to control Stephen Curry in the pick and roll. That’s why I refer to it as “The Curry Adjustment.” In Game 2, Curry made mincemeat of both Koufos and McGee: they’re not quick enough to blitz him, and their hedges just made it easy for him to either shoot the three, or get around them into a vacated lane. Faried was able to blitz both Curry and Jack hard to start the game, and completely disrupt the Warriors offense.

The second reason Karl made this adjustment was to make the Nuggets faster on the court. Better able to run with the suddenly Nellieball Warriors. Karl gambled that the increase in speed and athleticism would outweigh the loss in half-court defense.

And the third reason Karl made this adjustment is because Andrew Bogut has no offense. Karl gambled that the Warriors could not punish this mismatch by posting Bogut up, and that is exactly what we saw. They only tried to post him up twice, and both attempts ended in failure.

There’s little question that this brilliant Karl adjustment caught the Warriors by surprise in the first half. The Nuggets suddenly had the quickness advantage all over the floor, Curry and Jack dribbled into several Nuggets traps, and the Warriors coughed up a bevy of turnovers that got the Nuggets out on their patented fastbreak.

And once again it felt like a brand new series, as the Nuggets went into the locker room up 66-54 at half.

But George Karl’s adjustment proved in the end to be not enough for the Nuggets to pull this game out. I think there were several reasons why the Warriors prevailed. First, because Mark Jackson responded at halftime with an adjustment of his own to make Curry harder to trap. Letting Jack initiate more, but also, in the words of George Karl, by “playing the ball in the middle of the court more often, which made it a little bit harder [for the trap] to get to.”

Second, because Faried tired badly late in the game, and his hedges got softer and softer. In the fourth quarter in particular, Curry did to him exactly what he did to Koufos in the previous game.

Third, because this Nuggets team really can’t shoot. Jackson would like to credit his defense for the Nuggets second half collapse. And I would definitely credit Draymond Green for his great defense on Andre Miller (and Mark Jackson for creating this matchup). But I think it’s chiefly because the Nuggets simply couldn’t put the ball in the ocean from outside in the second half.

And fourth, because the Warriors are a dominant Nellieball team at the moment. Let’s face it, Curry and Jack simply cannot be guarded on a floor being spread by Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes.

In this game, George Karl told you just how dominant Stephen Curry and Jarret Jack and the rest of this Warriors team are in a Nellieball system. He paid them the ultimate compliment: Throwing the lineup and the system the Nuggets had been playing all season long into the trash can, by benching Kosta Koufos, and trying to rewrite this series on the fly.

Does this remind you of anything? Of, perhaps, the Squeaky General benching Eric Dampier under the onslaught of We Believe?

This is what a dominant Nellieball team does. It has its fans and bloggers and Owner/GMs worried about getting crushed in the paint and on defense and on the boards, right up until the moment that it blows the other team out of its home gym, and their coach benches his centers in an effort to compete.

George Karl is now trying to match up with Mark Jackson.

Stephen Curry: The World’s Greatest Shooter, yes. That’s finally being recognized by a national audience. A perennial all-star, starting next year. That’s obvious to everyone now as well.

But do we know yet whether he’s a “point guard?” Matt Steinmetz, care to weigh in on that contentious issue?

He is also, as I’ve been saying since forever, one of the clutchest players I’ve ever seen. Those consecutive 4th Q plays in the lane, that left-handed scoop, followed by the right-handed floater… rocked.

He is torturing some of the best wing defenders in the league.

JACK: The bonehead 5 seconds call and 7 turnovers, yes. But this was a monster performance.

The Nuggets don’t seem to have an answer for the Warriors two-point guard backcourt.

I keep wondering, does Lacob intend to keep it? Or does he want Barnes to play in the fourth quarter next season? Hard to see how both can happen, once David Lee returns.

Carl Landry: His best game of the year? McGee and Koufos were shockingly ineffective against him.

I think Karl is making a mistake by not doubling him when he puts the ball on the floor. Karl is so afraid to leave the Warriors shooters that he might not realize that Landry can’t find them.

Bogut: He did his job, but I think his performance has declined since his opening game gem. I think Faried outplayed him, particularly in the first half. Outquicked him on the boards. Beat him down court. Gave him some problems on defense, while guarding him without problem.

Continues to set teeth-rattling screens, which are highly entertaining to watch. I wondered whether his dustup with McGee had anything to do him jolting the soul out of Lawson’s body on the previous possession.

Something to worry about: Whether Faried gets stronger as this series progresses, while Bogut’s ankle gets weaker. There’s only one game rest between games now.

Ezeli: Absolutely great defense in his 7 minutes. 3 blocks.

Curry singled him out for praise for his game-ending defense on Ty Lawson, when he hedged on the pick, and chased Lawson  towards the corner. Look at the big fella move his feet. Is there a more mobile true center in the league? He’s one of the smartest and most competitive as well.

A fabulous Nellieball piece.

Harrison Barnes: Karl didn’t make the mistake of putting a power forward on Barnes in this game. And as a result, Barnes got nothing going to the basket. Each of his drives ended badly.

But he keeps knocking down his jumpers, when he’s not being guarded by Chandler. Pretty sure that all the ones he hit were shot over Lawson or Miller. That’s the fabulous position that Barnes finds himself in in this series. All of the Nuggets wing defenders are preoccupied by Curry, Jack and Thompson.

He still has to knock them down, though, and doesn’t seem fazed at all by the stage.

His defense didn’t catch my eye in this game, which is a good thing. And I am in general completely perplexed that the Nuggets aren’t going to Wilson Chandler more often. I thought he’d have a major role in this series. Perhaps Barnes is playing him better than I thought he could. But perhaps not. I think the Nuggets have just been going elsewhere. Like to this guy:

Andre Iguodala: Iggy is one of the premier wing defenders in the league, but I’ve never liked him as a player. Argued strongly against the Warriors trading Monta for him, when that was being rumored.

You’ve seen the reason why in the last two games, in spades. Iggy is a terrible offensive player in the half-court, despite the fact that he’s a great facilitator. The problem is that he can’t shoot, but he wants very badly to be the man on every team he’s on. That’s a bad combination.

Have you noticed that Mark Jackson is frequently hiding Curry or Jack on Iggy? Smart.

Klay Thompson: Rough game for Klay, but not without reason. It can be a little hard to track all the matchups in this series, particularly since both teams are cross-matching everywhere, and switching at least four players at all times, but I’m pretty sure Klay was Iggy’s primary focus in this game, instead of Curry as in past games. And it looked to me like Iggy had been instructed to never leave him open.

Karl had very little success taking Curry out of the game with Iggy. Perhaps he’s decided taking Klay out is a reasonable alternative. And resort to team defense on Curry.

Draymond Green: Like Ezeli, absolutely stellar on defense. Largely responsible for Andre Miller’s 2-13.

On offense, nothing but threes and layups. That’s the ticket.

It is truly remarkable just how poised the Warriors rookies have been in this series. It has to be said that regardless of how you evaluate their talents, their IQ, preparation and courage under fire is a cut above.

The Series: The Warriors were still a +220 dog in the series coming into this game. I discussed that price with several of my friends, but none of us were willing to bet it, although we felt that Game 2 indicated that the Nuggets would have serious problems matching up with the newly Nellieball Warriors. Curry’s ankle had a lot to do with that. Not to mention Bogut’s.

It will be interesting to see whether they remain a dog after this game. The Nuggets are definitely in trouble in this series. I think the fact of Karl’s radical adjustment is solid evidence that he himself believes that.

I think we can expect the Warriors to play better against Faried at center, and the Nuggets traps, now that they’ve seen them.

But concerns remain. The possibility of future adjustments, of course. But also the possibility that Faried gets healthier, and the Nuggets just start playing better.

George Karl made some interesting remarks after this game:

“The second half of this game was an offensive game. I don’t think we can win without getting defense into the game. [We have to look at ways] to take the layup out, and cover the ball better.”

“The process of a playoff series is to get better, and we got better in this game.”

“[It’s a long series, and we’re going to one game rest between games now.] They play 8 guys. Maybe our 9 to 10 guys will get stronger….”


72 Responses to The Curry Adjustment: Warriors 110 Nuggets 108 — Game 3

  1. Thanks for the awesome breakdown Felty! Your comment on the Warriors rookies is dead on. They remind me of a team of seniors in the NCAA tournament. Been there, done that.

    The big surprise to me has been the toughness the Warriors have shown. Bogut, Jack, Green and Ezeli are hammering the Nuggets bigs. My favorite play of the game was when Brewer tried to chicken wing Curry and pull him to the ground to draw Curry’s 5th foul. Then on his way back down the court, is called for a frustration foul. That pretty much ended Brewer’s hot shooting. Loved it.

  2. “…evenly matched teams…” This is NOT what I read here pre-series… What happened to the 70-30 favorites? The so-called experts didn’t understand the Nuggets home and road record discrepancy. The Nuggets are now at full health (sans Galinari) with Faried looking fairly recovered. The Warriors are sans All-Star David Lee and Brandon Rush. The Nuggets are the DEEP team. The W’s are NOT a deep team. Lol!

    How about the David Lee Myth? I’m on pins and needles waiting for this one… I won’t hold my breath. Something has happened with this team in the 2.25 games since David Lee’s game one injury. All I hear are crickets.

    Carl Landry can’t pass out of double teams? I’ve heard this one before… Also that Harrison Barnes can’t pass out of double teams. Question… How in the world would Carl Landry and Harrison Barnes EVER be doubled on a team with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and Jarret Jack???

    Harrison Barnes play in Games 2 and 3 – are the reasons why I REFUSE to throw Harrison Barnes under the bus this early in his career… Kudos to the W’s management – they didn’t give him away for a 1 year Paul Pierce rental and Andris Biedrins salary dump… And get this – Barnes is going to get only better. And if the W’s want to trade Harrison? I’d say his trade value is pretty high right now…

  3. That the teams are evenly matched would be a nice debate. Surely the defensive edge easily goes to Denver, and if the scales are balanced, it’s because of the superior talent of a single Warrior.

    Remember: playoff teams, even the best, don’t shoot well in the playoffs. Instead they need to rely on defense and size in games that play half court in slow grinding pace. Lacob believes this. Everyone believes it—

    Except the Warriors.

    The regret now is that the coaches didn’t experiment with lineups earlier, or weren’t allowed to, at least the last fourth of the season when the rookies had experience. Why did Barnes start every game? Why didn’t they play him in the position, at the times of the game, that might make best use of his skills, that countered their opponents’ play? And they could have spelled Lee much more down the stretch. Put Landry in the right lineup, and he and Jack can offset the loss on offense.

    But I still don’t understand this. The team should have been demoralized when Lee went down. Where did they get the spirit, the confidence, the solidarity? Does Green look like a rookie frightened by the big stage? Did he doubt himself when he knocked down those threes? Even Barnes, who disappointed in the NCAA tournament, is stepping up. I’m starting to listen to Jackson’s sermons, the parts that are not self-serving.

    Most, I look to Curry. He believes he can win. He believes he can do all things. He doesn’t think about losing. And he makes other players believe. He’s been doing this all his career, when given the chance, collegiate and pro, with undermanned but coordinated teams who have the spirit.

    The Warriors are 30 seconds short of being up 3-0, and a sweep.

    I still don’t believe it.

    Let’s see what Karl does Sunday.

  4. Kudo’s to Coach Mark Jackson for making great adjustments! Out-coaching the Hall-of-Famer-to-be George Karl (a favorite of mine too) and making Karl look VERY PREDICTABLE. George Karl is coaching like he has the inferior roster! Lol!

    Sub-ing in Festus Ezeli instead of Andrew Bogut 2nd to last Denver possession… And Ty Lawson was trapped by Jack and Ezeli in the corner with no place to go! Except out of bounds! Bogut doesn’t make that play because he’s too slow and he’ll protect the paint first. Ezeli’s quickness and athleticism made that play… And George Karl in his post-game presser – whining about a possible foul of Ty Lawson at the end of that play??? PRICELESS!!! And George Karl baiting Mark Jackson to open up his player rotation? Priceless!

    Keeping Draymond Green on Andre Miller and out on the perimeter by putting a younger, faster, bigger, stronger, longer man on him – Miller relegated to shooting (ugliest 3 point shot ever) and just plain looking his current NBA age.

    Sans Galinari and a guarded Ty Lawson, this Denver team simply can’t shoot from the perimeter (threes) in half-court sets. I correct that – they CAN shoot them, but they can only MAKE them at 30-35% clip. And compared to our sharp-shooters, I’d let them take those shots ALL DAY! Iggy. Brewer. Miller. Chandler’s okay – but W’s are better perimeter shooters. Fournier’s days are WAY ahead of him.

  5. Another amazing stat… How in the world are the W’s consistently outrebounding one of the best rebounding teams in the league?

    Great point FB about Faried getting stronger and Bogut getting less spry as this series progresses with only 1 day off between games. I guess the same would apply to Andre Miller as well. I’ll like more minutes for Festus Ezeli.

    Kudos to the W’s Front Office! What an awesome 2012 NBA draft for our GSW’s! 3 rookies playing serious minutes and contributing to their team’s underdog playoff run!

  6. In the first half Barnett and The Screecher wondered aloud why the Ws weren’t feeding Bogut to take advantage of Faried. I guess the results show why.

    Q: if Bogut can’t create his own shot any better than Ezeli, why not give Ezeli more minutes? Ezeli is better on D, and on O his mobility makes him more helpful to the team’s big scorers.

    I don’t know if it bugs anyone else, but I’m getting HUGELY SICK of Fitzgerald’s game time “analysis.” For example, D Green can’t take a 3-pt shot without Fitz screeching about how terrible he is at it. In reality, Green is 2-4 from 3-pt range in this series. I’ll take 50% shooting from range anytime. I wonder if someone could please remind Fitz he’s the play-by-play guy and Barnett is the sensei.

    In a game where fouls were called closely, Curry, Thompson and Green were called for 4, 4 and 6 fouls respectively. Green collected all of his in just 15 minutes. Harrison Barnes got called for only 1 foul in 43 minutes, an intentional “foul to give” just before halftime. Bogut, playing the role of the team’s rim defender, was charged with only 2 fouls in 29 minutes. Fouls aren’t necessarily “bad,” there are “good fouls” necessary to stop high-percentage shots, and Cs and PFs in particular MUST routinely deliver those hits for the greater good.

    There’s a serious downside to a low foul count from the team’s last line of D. Their D needs to get noticed! Including by the refs. Curry, Thompson and Green all understand that. Barnes either doesn’t get it or (more often) he’s not in position to deliver those necessary fouls. Bogut is smart and experienced, which helps him keep his fouls down, but most of the time it seems he simply can’t get in place to make the stop. Bogut is hurting.

    I don’t want to rhapsodize about Green, a player who many believe may never fully measure up in the NBA. But he did some very, very good things out there. One play in particular really stood out, his crushing foul on a McGee layup attempt. Absolutely the right foul at the right time, delivered the right way (with extreme prejudice). McGee was never the same afterward. The rest of the time Green completely blanketed Miller, rotated all over the court on D, and played a quietly efficient offensive game.

    Feltie, another adjustment the team made to beat Denver’s trapping was to have Green bring up the ball a few times, in the kind of “point forward” role he performed often in college. Last night was the first time we’ve seen him do that with the Ws. I suspect we’ll see it more. Green might be the best passer on the team, which is why he ALWAYS inbounds the ball when he’s on the floor. “Smart, Sneaky and Ruthless” trumps raw athleticism. Examples abound. Green’s an example.

    • Sure Bogut is slowed (and not 100%), but he brings with him a toughness – a physicality I’ve never seen as a W’s fan. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! Bogut fought McGee, stuck his finger on his beard and said take your best shot (and a tech)! Lol! I watched Bogut and Faried shove each other for position on nearly every possession with Faried getting visably frustrated (and tired). And when Bogut sets picks, he’s looking to put a HURTIN’ on a fella!!! Lol!

      I don’t mind having Bogut’s minutes reduced and playing Ezeli/Green a little more – especially as the 1 day rest between games/travel/Denver air might be more of a factor.

      • PB, I think Bogut is an awesome human being, and like you I appreciate his heavyduty attitude. It’s good for the team!

        Unfortunately, Bogut is hurting right now. And Ezeli’s got the scowl going too. EZ helps the team more overall.

        • Love Ezeli’s game too. I saw Ezeli’s talents in the first Game of summer league and have been sold ever since. He’s all out, which means he’s only good for shorter minutes this season.

          Regarding Bogut – we can respectfully disagree on his contributions – even hobbled. And on Barnes and Ellis too. That’s the beauty of this forum! Lol!

  7. “…Faried tired badly late in the game, and his hedges got softer and softer…”

    You re right…Nellie woulda luved the undersized center Faried getting worn down by the hand-to-hand combat with the ornery seven-foot Bogut! Oh wait you didn’t mention that? Didn’t fit the narrative I guess?

    Oh & of course see you’re under selling the efforts of “Black Falcon-The Brand”?

    ~carry on~

  8. Beyond the “Thanks for another great recap” is how amazed I am at how you can put these nuanced & eloquent pieces together at 2 in the morning…take me a week-and-a- half to put something together not half as good!

    I mean details down to Draymond in a split second switching defensive assignments…come 0n!

    Also to ChrisL…looks like his in season caution about not just being happy to get to the playoffs…but to be competitive when they get there is happening! (He probably won’t read this until much later today ;o)

    Good call…

    • Whoops funny as hell…forgot to switch sights.

      Why don’t you take it then as a compliment Felty ;o)

    • Take a moment, Scotch, to let both recaps sink in and compare them for depth and insight.

    • Thanks, but no thanks rgg. I think they clearly stand alone…a narrative based on an obsession vs objective recapping of a thrilling win!

      ~I’m good~

      • want to thank everyone here including boss felt of course and the esteemed visitor from the approved blog, for staying on the events and ideas, steering clear of personality clashes between participants, verbosity, and bloviation. the folks over w. lauridsen seem to be well educated, successful, and bright but something about hoops chatter seems to blunt or filter out many of their best qualities ; the sheer quantity of words devoted to variations of self congratulation is staggering.

        • + 1 bazillion!

          When they start congratulating each other on their musical taste I wonder where the basketball is.

        • Right you are sir moto, well stated. Just one question re your “variations of self congratulations” …. Are you thus put off by all the “I predicted” (ad nauseum ) posts delivered here regularly?

          …and enough of this nonsense…pardon my intrusion.

          …onto game 4

      • I would be curious to hear specific analysis, Scotch, that explains where Feltbot is right and wrong. I’m not that smart and don’t know the game that well.

        When I started watching the Warriors again several years ago, I looked around at blogs and first ran into Adam’s. What I discovered, after watching the games, was that he wasn’t saying anything. His analyses were superficial, yet laden with platitudes, with biases and assumptions that weren’t examined, much less supported by anything that happened on the court.

        Then I ran into Feltbot’s, by accident. What I saw was specific analysis of the players and the game that, in fact, matched what I was seeing when I watched. And the more I read, the more I saw and understood. It has been a learning experience. Everything he’s been saying the last years was well evidenced in the last three games.

        The goal, I believe, is to get it right, not pat people on the back and slit the throats of scapegoats.

        • rgg I don’t think there’s any better at pure game analysis than felt & that to is why I visit. I think you’re selling Adam’s basically objective insights short though. Today’s post for example delivers “specific analysis” imho, but I guess that’s our fork in the road.

          I do occasionally take a jab at felt’s obsession, hopefully it’s coming off as good sport & not disrespectful? I know the deal here.

          I suspect I’m still licking my wounds from past beatings about “Ragdoll” at the hands of felty?

          ~Now I gone~

          • Scotch,

            Fair enough!

            The attacks on Nelson at AL’s and elsewhere, everywhere really, are personal and unreasoned. So I don’t mind someone defending the man the owner and everyone else has kicked down the stairs. The arguments over “small ball” simply don’t make sense. The goal is to find the best way to play, making use of available talents, the way the game is played now.

            I don’t mind FB’s ego. It means he has to deliver.

            Feel free to poke holes every now and then. It’s healthy.

          • “have kicked” — crap. I’m an English teacher.

  9. I’m really looking forward to watching the Thunder play without Westbrook. I think people will be shocked by how well they play in his absence.

    • how OK fares without their high usage, volume-shooting lead guard will be a good test of the decisions presti made since losing in last summer’s finals. they shipped out the two players who would have filled in, harden of course and then maynor. martin isn’t the play maker harden is, and the second year guard jackson gets to find out what it’s all about.

      but westbrook’s absence will probably affect the other positions even more. a dominant personality like his combined with that usage rate can suppress the other good players on his team. we might see sefalosha or ibaka or someone else really blossom, not just durant increasing his domination as the pundits are predicting.

    • Reggie Jackson? Does Fisher have anything left? I like seeing unknown players step up, who haven’t had a chance to play. Blake did a fine job for the Lakers until he went down, and even Goudelock, fresh from the D-League, had a nice game last night. The Lakers, of course, have more problems down the roster than OKC.

      • Oh, and Nate Robinson. 34 points today.

        • Chi’s scoring today was astounding in context with their difficulties while the injuries were at their peak. one poor quarter (18 pts.) was nearly enough to cost them this game. other than the miracle worker robinson, a player recently returning from injury was essential for the win, hinrich who played sixty minutes.

    • Westbrook is awesome, but OKC is going to do just fine on O without him. Depending on how well his replacement(s) can step up, their wing D might be sag a little. But that’s about it.

  10. Scotch, Barnes is a fantastic athlete and a good shooter. He’s also a below-average NBA starter right now. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, just check the stats.

    Barnes played 43 minutes last night, mostly at SF. He scored 19 points with 7 rebounds. That sounds good, but check the numbers on some of his defensive assignments:

    Chandler: 11 pts, 9 rebounds
    Iguodala: 14 pts, 5 rebounds
    Brewer: 16 pts, 3 rebounds

    Total: 41 pts, 17 rebounds

    Barnes was almost always out of position on D. He had just one (intentional) foul, zero steals and a total of one defensive stop, a (rare for him) blocked shot.

    On offense Barnes was the dreaded black hole. In a team attack where sharing the ball is a prime ingredient for success, he had only 2 assists. When the team gave him isos, he 100% blew it. In other words, he doesn’t help others get their shots and can’t create his own. That’s been true of Barnes all season long.

    Barnes’ vertical leap looks great. He’s even a wonderful uniform model. But if “you are who you can guard,” he’s not an NBA player at all, and the Ws would be even better on O with someone at his position who merely approximated “NBA average.”

    Imagine how much better Brandon Rush would be in this system.

    Maybe next year for Barnes. His athleticism gives him lots of potential. But don’t give him too much credit now for free shots created for him by other team members. He can’t score without help, he doesn’t help others score, and his defense is the pits.

    What’s to like?

    • Jeez trying to break away, guess I stepped in it today.

      Hat I seriously suggest you slowly step away from the stats before you harm yourself. Now I understand Harrisons problems on defense, he’s trying to guard 3 players at once.

      I see a young player feeling his way, deferring to superior weapons. Yeah I’ve noticed him out of position on d…last night he was out hustled by Faried forcing himself out of position on a crucial play towards the end. However, I’m with Jackson, willing to be patient, I see potential, you don’t.

      You know feltbot once said Klay Thompson would never be anything more than Kyle Korver now he has him on track for the HOF. (BTW we won’t find that in the archives will we felt?). Many here were critical of Klay’s defense also. Let’s give it some time & see where the Black Falcon goes!

      • Scotch, I totally see potential in Barnes. I just can’t credit him with arriving yet. At the moment, almost any veteran SF would do better. The Ws even have a vet SF the roster. If you count Green, that’s two better SFs on the team.

        • Hell no he hasn’t “arrived” yet!

          I’m just thankful we’ve left the “Deer-in-the-headlights” player from the regular season behind. If I was betting feltbot’s money, I would’ve never bet he would’ve taken a single confident shot in the playoffs…I’m stoked at what he’s bringing right now. Especially with the DLee deal! His contributions have been integral to their success imo.

          I’ll leave you with the “two better SFs” stuff as, that’s your opinion…

    • The bottom line here may be that it just wasn’t a very strong draft. I’m curious to see how Barnes compares with the others a few years from now.

      What has made thinking about Barnes difficult is the promotion he’s received, his place in the starting lineup. I’m curious about Lacob’s input here. Barnes, after all, is his reward for tanking. He has to make it look like it has paid off.

  11. Great article, as usual. One quibble is the dismissal of Iguodala — that reverse jam lob of his was by far the most eyebrow-raising play I’ve seen this season. It was sensational. I think he’s been great this series, but overall play aside — that was an amazing play.

  12. @Scotch: I never delete anything from the archives. I stand by everything I write, for good or ill, without exception.

    Here is the “Korver challenge” you are looking for. It’s in the comments @7, which is why it doesn’t turn up in search.

    This makes clear that you are wrong about my early opinion of Klay Thompson. I never said that he would never be better than Kyle Korver. I said: “As good as Thompson promises to be offensively, I think that if he is to become a better player than Korver, it will have to occur at the defensive end.”

    By the way, here are Korver’s stats this season:
    31 mpg 46.1 % field, 45.7% from three, 85.9% FT, 4.0 rb, 2.0 ast, 0.9 stl, 0.5 blk , 10.9 ppg on 8 attempts.

    And here are Thompson’s:
    35 mpg, 42.2% field, 40.1 % from three, 84.1% FT, 3.7 rb, 2.2 ast, 1.0 stl, 0.5 blk, 16.6 ppg on 15 attempts.

    I issued this Korver challenge on a day when I wrote glowingly of Klay, as you can verify by reading the post. It was merely my way of calling out those who were critical of my focus on his defensive deficiencies.

    Klay’s defense and rebounding have improved considerably this season, helped greatly by his shift to small forward for much of the game, which is what I have argued for. And it is his defense, not his offense, that makes him a better player than Korver at this moment.

    If you read everything else I have ever written about Klay, starting from the very first post I wrote about him, “The Klay Thompson Problem”, you will find an implicit assumption that Thompson will end up being a much better player on the offensive end than Korver. But as this year’s stats emphatically indicate, it hasn’t happened yet.

    • You’re good FB!
      Kyle Korver’s stats are actually quite impressive this season – then I remember that he’s in the cupcake East… Lol!

  13. to complement the curry adjustment/counter-adjustment, we’re witnessing the ‘lee paradox.’ lee’s supposed to be the team’s most consistent source for boards, but from day one this season their transition offense was compromised so the guards and wings would help on the defensive boards rather than sprint out to start the offense. without lee, they’ve held their own on the boards, and not having his touches and playmaking on offense they welcome the transition opportunities. they’ve gained both transition chances and open court spacing for their half court stuff.

    will the coach learn from this and wean the team from the owner’s outmoded orthodoxy? when lee returns, rush will as well, and they could comfortably reduce lee’s minutes 15-20%, perhaps gaining more consistent defensive effort with fresher legs on lee. he’s smart and adaptable enough to fit into more transition offense, and has the green light to take the ball down the court like a point forward if he chooses.

    • Your post brings up the pre-Bogut, w/Bogut dilemma the Warriors have. The team made two radical transitions this year. When the season started without Bogut, the Warriors found success in a faster-paced game with Lee at center. Then injured Bogut returned to the lineup drastically changing the offense for the worse, but Curry’s amazing April pushed them into the playoffs as Lee’s offensive role diminished.

      Then in the playoffs, the Warriors laid an offensive egg in game 1 and Lee went down with injury. This seemed to open the door for Nelliball in game despite the fact that Bogut was still in the lineup. Marc Jackson decided that the only way he was going to win this series was to outrun Denver.

      What we’ve found over the past two games is that the the Nelliball lineup destroys defenses. Clearly Jackson will have to continue to coach this way into next season. But this means having Bogut OR Lee in the game at center, not both in at the same time. Bogut’s toughness has been one of the deciding factors in this series so far (along with Denver’s inability to shoot from distance). How do the Warriors channel this into next season with Lee and Bogut both on the floor as starters.

      • @Moto/Peteb24,
        Couldn’t agree more! No doubt, something’s changed in 2.25 games with David Lee out – and it’s very ironic that the W’s are playing great without their All-Star Center…

        Bogut and Lee – do similar things on offense (almost redundant) – meaning handle, pass/facilitate, pick and roll, good hands/court vision, rebound. Bogut the defensive player, Lee the offensive player.

        Many here have written that Bogut/Lee don’t co-exist well – they might just be spot on! Perhaps one of these players will have to come off the bench!!!

        A roster adjustment/improvement might be needed… Adding in a real stretch 4 (not just Harrison) like a Patterson-type or the development of Draymond Green’s range/shot.

        Landry/Lee works. Bogut/Barnes works. Bogut/Green or Lee or Landry/Green – works if Green can shoot better.

    • What is apparent is that a healthy Bogut, whatever that is, assuming we ever see one, can still only play a limited role with the team, and that role would change with situations within a game, with the different rosters that they face from opposing teams.

      No center can wholly transform a team in the game as it is played today. If Lacob had gotten Howard—and he tried—once you factor in the roster and salary moves necessary to accommodate him, the sacrifices made down the roster, we would have ended up with a team not much different from the Laker lineup we saw a few nights ago.

      • stan van gundy with a limited budget for howard’s ‘supporting cast’ took them pretty far. he’d probably win with howard + curry + role players, though howard’s next employer will find out he’s not the same player he was in Orl before his back problem. we’ll be spared seeing that variation of lacob’s fantasy materialise, thank the hoops gods and the c.b.a., because howard will already be signed to his next mega deal by the time myers has his owner’s campaign chest filled.

        • We have every reason to believe Lacob would have traded Curry to get Howard.

          (I tried to add a link to an AW piece that stated just that, but it wouldn’t go through. ????)

          • From AW’s piece, Yahoo:

            For the Magic to become intrigued with package, two things would likely have to appeal to them: rebuilding around young point guard Stephen Curry; and the Warriors’ salary-cap space to absorb the three years and $34 million left on Hedo Turkoglu’s contract. The possibility of the pursuit could be complicated by questions about the sturdiness of Curry’s surgically repaired right ankle. The Warriors are willing to part with either of their two guards – Curry or Monta Ellis – but teams clearly will watch how Curry recovers from his recurring ankle sprains.

          • everything we’ve learned about howard since those trade rumours confirmed our suspicions about his emotional maturity — taking up .40+ of a team’s cap yet incapable of leadership — and how his modest hoops i.q. and ball skills would limit him on offense without a coach who’d custom tailor a team around him. the bussies are just right for him, just as the sterlings are just right for griffin, because they aren’t the best player on their teams and must acknowledge it. bryant missing an entire season for rehab, or paul departing for greener pastures could of course change that quickly.

          • Howard today: 7 points, 8 boards, 20 minutes—and ejection for two technicals. No class.

  14. Harrison Barnes as a small ball four has helped to completely change this playoff series. The floor is more open. Lovin’ it!

    In 3 games vs. the Nuggets, Barnes is 19-33 (.576%) from the field, 5-10 (50%) from three, 6-10 (60%) from the line, a +15, for a 17 PPG average.

    This is Black Falcon territory…

    Harrison Barnes’ defense? I’m very confident in improvement by next season – he’s still young and impressionable, got the work ethic, what better mentor than RJeff, and has all the physical tools.

    I’m bullish on Barnes.

    • Barnes is certainly showing us that he can shoot the ball. Still many questions about his ability to put the ball on the floor and his defense. Interestingly, he has proven to be a willing passer, although not a good facilitator. As his game develops the floor will open up for him in that regard because of his height and ability to get to a spot on the floor.

      The other thing I have been impressed with is his willingness to work. There have been nothing but good words from the coaching staff and teammates about his work ethic. I believe this work ethic will allow him to develop real footwork as he drives the basket and posts up. He seems to be very serious about the game which is why I don’t like Feltbots continuing references to “The Brand”. Blame the Warriors marketing staff and Lacob for that one, not Barnes.

      Also, Jackson starting Barnes all season long must mean there’s some serious potential there. Jackson is a player’s coach and would not just hand over the starting job to a rookie unless the kid earned it in some regard during practice.

    • in this pivotal game four, green has a far greater impact on the result than barnes, in fewer minutes. plays that aren’t in the box score, like the two offensive fouls he induced with good footwork and positioning, along with his steals created by hustle and reads. unusual for a rookie who doesn’t have flashy shot blocking or speed to become an above average defender in his first year. his post season shooting has jumped two notches above what he showed during the regular season.

  15. While I was waiting to get a haircut today, I saw TK’s piece in the Merc praising Bogut’s role as enforcer, specifically his play on McGee. The move might have brought a kind of satisfaction to many, but JaVale McGee is not a great threat and Bogut’s shoving his hairy butt into McGee did not have much influence on winning the 3rd game.

    There will be teams against whom the Warriors will need physical size and toughness, Memphis for example, but here the issue will be how fast Bogut can move his hairy butt around.

    I should be accurate here. I don’t know if Bogut’s butt is hairy or not. I haven’t seen it.

    TK, however, I suspect does know.

    • we’re fortunate that bogut’s physical limitations necessitate rationed minutes on the court. the coach’s task is to apply those minutes where most needed, of course. when an athlete’s prime comes, and its shelf life, is different for each individual. biedrins’ came just before and just after he signed his big contract, and he was over the hill by his mid-20s. bogut’s decline started when he broke his arm. the ankle rendered it irreversible. the best recovery we can reasonably expect from bogut at this point won’t restore him to a level where he’d consistently help the team win at 30 min. per contest.

      the game entered its critical stretch when bogut left at around 2.20 remaining in the third period, the team behind by 3. landry was the center for about ten minutes, and when bogut re-entered for the final 4.40 or so until ezeli’s critical relief appearance, they were up with a two possession lead. of course it was ezeli who preserved the winning margin, and not bogut.

    • So rgg,

      What you’re saying is we need high speed butt hair, not merely a butt, or hair.

      • Hmm. Interesting concept. I’m going to have to work on this.

        Maybe we could work up a statistical analysis of butt hair speed and compare players across the board and present it at the Sloan analytics conference? I’ve got some ideas for charts I’m sure Yahoo would like.

  16. Anybody catch the Bucks series? I only watched a few minutes of one game and looked at the box scores. It looks like Skiles holds Ellis and Jennings back first half to get the others going, then turns them loose 2nd. half, a strategy I question.

    And it looks like Jennings is the weak link—32% FG, 21% from the three for the series. Is he injured?

    Not that it would have made any difference how they played. But our backcourts, while both small, really can’t be compared.

  17. Andrew Bogut – injured, hobbled, and obviously not 100% – has a +29 for the Denver series in only 3 games. I repeat +29! The Warriors are out rebounding the Nuggets all three games. Without David Lee.

    • We breed ’em tough down under :)

      Bogut is one tough hombre and it’s great to see some intimidation in this roster. Bogut vs Duncan is going to be a crucial matchup…. when we make the second round!

      Nearly tip time… League Pass fired up in my office and the work calendar cleared. Go time. Go dubs!

  18. warriorsablaze

    Andrew “The Myth” Bogut completely DOMINANT tonight.

    • Curry +22
      Jack, Thompson +21
      Barnes +3
      Green +15
      Bogut -2

      • warriorsablaze

        As if single game +/- means anything without context. He’s the only reason we weren’t down double digits in the first quarter.

        Keep holding tight to your anti-Bogut narrative no matter what. He’s been great 3 out of 4 games this series. We don’t go far without him.

        • Karl literally handed Bogut those points on a platter. He was wide open. Still, give him credit for finishing. If they had stuck with that plan, they lose.

          • warriorsablaze

            Yes, I know the drill.

            Klay has a good game he’s a future hall of famer genius; has a bad game it was because the defense focused on him.

            Barnes or Bogut have a good game it’s because it was “handed to them”… have a bad game and they suck.

            I know it’s hard when you spend a whole year building biases, but some of you guys are partisan hacks through and through.

          • “Barnes or Bogut have a good game it’s because it was handed to them.”

            This is exactly what happened. Neither can do much by themselves. All the games prove this.

            Look at the game flow, look at the stats, oh great spin doctor from Oz.

          • Seriously. Look at the gameflow @20 all 2nd. half and follow Bogut’s contributions and effect on the line, the margin of difference. Note especially Bogut’s contributions 4th. Q.

            No one says he isn’t somewhat handy, but his contributions were minor and there are reasons Jackson didn’t close with him.

            Barnes was nonexistent in this game, not just the missed shots, but the flubs and TOs. He didn’t do much at all when the ball got into his hands, except the feed from Curry on the fast break, and this he does very well.

    • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

      They only like to use the + / – when it suits their point. Year after year Monta Ellis has the worst + / – of every team he is on and they blame it his teammates.

  19. Three things set me on edge this game. The first was the coach’s wife’s hideous rendition of our nat’l anthem. The second was the dog show during the half. Was this Guber’s idea? What’s next? Rodeo clowns standing on the sidelines to step in when things get dicey?

    The third was hearing that Curry wasn’t wearing a brace on his left ankle, which he said bothered him the 3rd. game.

    OK, that was interesting. Obviously Karl decided to give up points to Bogut, and give him credit for doing what he hadn’t done much before, finish up close. He’s still worthless three feet and out. Just as obviously 2nd. half, with slower half court offense run through Jack and Denver’s adjustment, this avenue was closed off, and there were 3-4 forced passes to Bogut that led to turnovers. Fortunately this strategy was abandoned.

    The real front court heroes were Landry and Green, both solid, whose points really mattered. Like I always said, Green should pop that three whenever he gets a chance (somebody kick me here). Green’s defense, 4 steals, the boards. The confidence this guy shows as a rookie. Keep it coming.


    Special effects award goes to Jefferson for drawing two technicals in one play. Such a crafty player. I wish he had more to show.

    But Curry. The defense did a good job disrupting the Denver offense and Curry was key here, with his steals and other interference. I’d like to see a string of replays of these efforts.

    Then the shooting.

    • Oh, I forgot.

      Barnes. . . .

      Denver just isn’t right though. This series still surprises me.

    • How about confetti and “Celebration” after a 1st-round game?

      Great game, tons o’ fun. Couldn’t quite put my finger on when the Denver players became convinced they were going to lose, but by the 4th Q there wasn’t any doubt. Their body language said it all.

      Glad to see Bogut look like Bogut, but he was -2 on the game. My personal highlight reel shows a completely dominating performance by… Draymond Green.

    • the team started getting defensive stops after green entered in the third quarter at around 5.20 left. their lead went from five to nineteen by the end of the quarter.

    • The team was stalling 3rd. Q. Denver was closing the gap. The defense, yes, but what a brilliant, brilliant performance by Curry. I am still blinded.

  20. Gameflow (how do they do this so quickly?):

    Note Landry’s stint 3, 2nd.Q and Green stint 4, 3rd. Q, and look at the line fall sharply towards the Warriors lead. And look at that line the first half of the 3rd.Q, when they were playing traditional slow feed the center ball, as the lead declines gradually and nearly evens. The graph tells it all.