Warriors in Six: Warriors 100 Spurs 91– Game 2

No, our eyes didn’t deceive us last game. The newly Nellieball Golden State Warriors are a better team than the San Antonio Spurs.

Jump for the reasons why:         

The Myth of Tony Parker: First of all, the Tony Parker we’re seeing right now is not the real Tony Parker, the guy we saw for most of the regular season. Parker had a really bad ankle sprain a few weeks ago, that he will not recover from this year. He is a step slow.

Secondly, Parker struggles against length. That was proven in last year’s playoffs against OKC. The Spurs looked good getting out to a 2-0 lead, then OKC shifted Sefolosha onto him and swept the Spurs out. Why? Because Parker operates in the confined spaces of the paint. He likes getting into the paint on pick and roll, and pulling up for short jumpers, or continuing for layups. Bogut is contesting his layups, and Thompson and Green are denying his short jumpers. 7-17 in this game.

Third, because Parker doesn’t spread the floor, he is always looking to score two points. As the modern theory of basketball (which more and more confirms the validity of Nellieball) is fond of pointing out, even 59% from two is not as efficient as 40% from three.

Tony Parker is NOT as good a point guard as Stephen Curry.

The Myth of Manu Ginobili: One of my favorite players of all time. James Harden before James Harden was James Harden.

Guess what? He doesn’t exist any more. He didn’t exist all season long. Lowest minutes since he was breaking in, plummeting scoring average. Bad shooting percentage. Even his free throws suffered.

Ginobili’s legs are shot. He has hamstring problems in both legs. He’s slow to the hoop, his jump is gone, he can’t feel his three point shot.

And this once all-pro defender can’t be put on Curry.

The Myth of Low Post Basketball: I don’t want to take anything away from Bogut and Ezeli. They were fabulous on Duncan tonight. But the fact of the matter is that low post basketball, as Mike D’Antoni is fond of pointing out, is the least efficient form of basketball there is. It’s turnover prone, and it converts at under 50%, even in the hands of masters.

It is simply not a match for 40% from three, which the Warriors have been producing regularly — against playoff competition — using Nellieball.

Duncan was 9-20 for 23 points in this game. A nice effort. But he’s playing for two, while the Warriors are playing for three.

The Myth of Matt Bonner: This is a little unfair to Bonner. He’s a fine stretch four, a 44% shooter from three, and a very useful player.

Against bigger players. That’s when Bonner is effective, when he’s matched up against conventional fours and fives that don’t want to leave the paint.

But the Nellieball Warriors are not matching up big against Bonner, they’re matching up small. With Draymond Green. And in this matchup, Bonner is transformed into a terrible player. A liability. Green has no problem covering Bonner at the 3 point line, at running him off his preferred shot. And that’s the sum total of his game.

What’s left is an indifferent rebounder and a wretched defender.

Pop gave Bonner a seat on the pine to start the third quarter, going with Kawhi Leonard at stretch four. This may become a theme.

The Myth of Tiago Splitter: Like sprained ankle Kenneth Faried, sprained ankle Tiago Splitter is not Tiago Splitter. He is very likely not to return to full strength in this series.

Tiago Splitter dominates Carl Landry. Carl Landry dominates sprained ankle Tiago Splitter.

The Nellieball Warriors: Enough with the Spurs, why is it that the Warriors are so darn good right now? Why is it that they are a far more dominant team in the playoffs than they were all season long?

This is familiar territory for the readers of this blog. I believe it’s because they are finally, after three long years, matching up small, pushing the tempo, spreading the floor, and playing pick and roll. They are finally playing the system that allows Stephen Curry’s ungodly talents to flourish.

Nellieball.

A lot of people will point to the fact that the stellar defensive play of Andrew Bogut in these playoffs has been equally important to the Warriors’ dominance. And I will absolutely grant that, right up front.

But even on the defensive side, look what happens when you start the Nellieball four Draymond Green alongside Bogut. All of a sudden, and for the first time all season, the Warriors have two all-world defenders on the court. All of a sudden the Warriors can defend the perimeter, as well as the paint.

Even when the Warriors started Barnes at four and Jack in the backcourt, they were a better defensive team. And no, I’m not picking on David Lee, whose man to man defense (against conventional big men, not stretch fours) is severely underrated. It’s because all season long Barnes has been a mediocre to terrible defender of threes. He’s simply a better defender when playing the stretch-four, because of his quickness advantage.

Simply put, since Lee went out, the gains the Warriors have made in quickness have far outweighed what they’ve lost in size on the defensive end. By a large margin.

On the offensive end — forgive me for recapitulating three long years of argument — but this is what Nellieball has done for the Warriors in the playoffs:

Gotten Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson wide open looks at early offense threes. Klay was 8-9 from three in this game, many of which would have had Marcus Thompson yelling “Noooooooooooooo!” earlier in the season, and ranting in his blog about forcing shots and not running offense.

It’s no longer a secret known only to Don Nelson and a handful of acolytes (Greg Popovich and George Karl). Now it’s the stuff of Sloan Conference papers. 40% from three in the open court cannot be defended. 40% from three cannot be outscored. 40% from three is unbeatable.

What else is Nellieball doing for the Warriors? The spread floor in the half court, of course. And what does the spread floor do? Allow the Warriors to run pick and roll for Curry without the danger of getting blitzed. Allow Curry to create in isolation at the three point line. Allow Curry to bomb at will from the three point line. And something else we haven’t seen since his rookie season under Nellie: get into the lane off the dribble.

Turn Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green into better players at the four, in the playoffs, than they were at the three, in the regular season. Make the Warriors unguardable on the perimeter. Get Bogut wide open dunks, which is his best and only offense. Not counting his supreme passing ability, which is also magnified when the floor is spread.

Klay Thompson: I called Stephen Curry a potential Hall of Famer — to much derision –towards the end of his rookie season. And I called Klay Thompson a potential Hall of Famer — to much derision — at a time of this season when it seemed every Warriors fan was down on him.

That’s feltbot’s brand. To be first, out on a limb. And to be right, every single time.

That, and self-congratulatory masturbation. (Comment 1.)

Mark Jackson’s Adjustments: First, he ditched the Festus at four idea in this game, starting Draymond Green at four. A brilliant adjustment, that worked to perfection in two ways:

  1. Winning the matchup with Bonner, as discussed above.
  2. Allowing Green to switch onto Tony Parker on screens, instead of forcing Klay to chase him. Quite obviously, this helped keep Klay out of foul trouble in this game, and probably kept his legs fresher as well.

Second, to my eye at least, he kept the Warriors in attack mode throughout the fourth quarter, instead of trying to run clock.

Third, although he gave away one possession to Hack-a-Bogut, he got Bogut off the floor immediately, instead of stubbornly resisting it. Next step: anticipating it entirely.

Fourth, when Pop tried to hide Parker on Barnes, he attacked the matchup mercilessly. On the surface, this did not go well for the Warriors. Iso’s and backing down smaller players are the least effective part of Barnes game. He’s extremely prone to being trapped, leading to turnovers and bad shots.

But what it did do is completely gas Parker, if you can trust that shot of him grabbing his shorts under the basket as we went to a commercial timeout.

George Karl was announced as the Coach of the Year today. And it’s hard to argue with the way he had his Nuggets playing before Gallinari, Faried and Lawson got injured. Big late season road wins in OKC and San Antonio with major playoff seeding implications on the line.

Tom Thibodeau has done an extraordinary job with a severely crippled squad. Eric Spoelstra made the radical adjustment to Nellieball, and had the Heat performing at a supreme level.

But there’s been no better coach in the NBA this season than Mark Jackson.

Pop’s Adjustments: First, Pop found a defense in the second half that was extraordinarily effective in containing Curry. Instead of having Danny Green face-guard Curry, and leaving him exposed to Curry’s all-world crossover and step-back, he had Green force Curry side-to-side. Usually to the right, which is a tougher direction from which to square up and pull up for jumpers.

Curry had no alternative but to abandon the three-point line, and drive towards the basket. Where he was picked up and trapped by a bigger help defender.

Curry struggled against this defense in three ways. First, it took away his three point shot. Second, he forced some difficult runners over the defense. And third, he found it tougher to find open teammates.

Now why didn’t George Karl think of that? This is a somewhat worrisome development.

Second, Pop had the Spurs far more aggressive in crashing the offensive boards. Leaving Danny Green on Curry freed up Leonard in this role. This helped get Bogut and Draymond Green in foul trouble.

Pop has one more very obvious adjustment he can make: returning Splitter to the starting lineup, if his health allows. This could radically alter the dynamics between the two teams, simply by forcing Mark Jackson to match up big. It could also put even more pressure on Bogut’s ankle — which didn’t look as good tonight as it did in the previous two games. And it could create foul trouble.

The Series: The Spurs are not fazed in the least by being on the road in the playoffs. I have seen them steal countless Game 3′s after dropping a game at home to inferior teams.

The problem for them is that the Warriors are not an inferior team.

Warriors in six.

35 Responses to Warriors in Six: Warriors 100 Spurs 91– Game 2

  1. FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

    The Warriors passed my eye test after Game 1. I actually went out on a limb and took the Warriors +660 to win the series even though they were down 1-0 as well as +310 for Game 2. I put my money where my mouth was. I guess that over was not such a lock after all. So much for never being wrong. I do give you kudos for Klay Thomson. However neither Klay Thompson nor Steph Curry would be playing like they are if Monte Ellis was still on this team. Trading Ellis allowed Klay Thompson to gain experience necessary for him to succeed this season. Also anyone that doesn’t see the potential that Harrison Barnes has is plain blind. If Monte Ellis and Udoh are so great why are they at home watching the playoffs?

    • If you check the last thread, you’ll see that I didn’t bet the over in this game, and the reasons why.

      • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

        Feltbot-

        Do you honestly think the Warriors would be where they are right now if they had not made the trade?

      • I assume you mean if they had signed Chandler or Asik in free agency, and traded Monta for something else?

        Yes, I do. And not just now, but years ago. Without having to waste two seasons tanking.

        But I’m not taking anything away from Bogut’s current performance. He’s been phenomenal.

        • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

          What I mean is by not trading Monta Ellis period. If Monta Ellis was still on this team do you think they would be doing what they are doing now?

  2. Felty:Great write-up.
    My only disagreement is that anointed Thompson when he was wildly inconsistent shooting and had negative stats by the Warriors having less possessions when he played. His overall shooting percentage was also low.That changed last night. As I believe he had two offensive rebounds, three steals, and only one turnover. Thus providing the Warriors with a net four additional possessions. Plus, he’s playing great defense. Jackson has helped him and Barnes by putting them in the position to obtain OR’s by having them move to positions at the end of plays that allow them to do so. Barnes has two OR’s last night. That’s huge for him and the Warriors.. If Thompson continues to give the Warriors additional possessions and consistently shoots well he should become an all-star.

    • Glad you’ve come around on Klay and Barnes. We all seem to forget that Klay’s in his 2nd year and Barnes is in his 1st year…
      Take a look at what James Harden was doing in his 1st or 2nd year. Our young guys are projecting just fine! Lol!

      And Bogut/Ezeli too – hopefully – when you see the Spurs shot 39 percent at home and out-rebounded??? Unbelieveable!

  3. Thanks FB!
    The W’s closed out a game finally! Probably had a lot to do with Bogut/Ezeli manning the middle for most of the game protecting the rim from Parker and others (no easy buckets) and rebounding/blocking out. Amazing that the W’s should be up 2-0 in this series heading to the Oracle just like in the Denver Series! I’d called that the W’s would break the streak – but possibly win the Series? Unbelieveable! We Believe II!

    Hack a Bogut worked for a little while… Playing Bogut at the beginning of the 4th was great – Spurs wanted no part of the penalty near the end of the game with the accurate W’s free throwers! Bogut and Ezeli manned the paint just fine and the Spurs shot only 39 percent on their home court.

    Klay’s shooting display is one thing – we W’s fans all knew he can do this. I’ve seen this from the beginning (ability to shoot/drive off the dribble) thanks to Donnie Walsh and Jerry West – who both on record said he’s Reggie Miller pre-draft. But solid defense? 14 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 blocked shot? This kid is way more than a one-trick pony! Hall of Fame here we come! Sorry, Kawhi’s a nice player, but Klay Thompson > than Kawhi Leonard in that draft! In Jerry West I Trust!

    Harrison Barnes cooled off from three this game, but is proving that if you leave him unguarded, he will punish you. Those that said Barnes can’t play – are dead wrong. On this team with young stars Curry and Thompson – the sky’s the limit!

    OKC is shot in the leg wounded with Westbrook out. If OKC can take out the Grizzlies and the W’s knock out the Spurs, the W’s have a legitimate shot at the NBA finals – and the W’s have beaten the HEAT IN MIAMI! What a season this can be??? Like the W’s Championship team – with rookie contributors – out of the blue! We Believe II!

  4. The big three (Duncan, Ginobili, and Parker) need to dominate, for the Spurs to advance – and they all look old. No one can tell me guys like Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, or DeJuan Blair can beat the W’s bigs… I’ve seen them all play and they can’t. Now the Spurs backup PGs – have played well in spurts during the season… Only an injury to Andrew Bogut/Stephen Curry can ruin this playoff series for the W’s.

  5. Congrats to George Karl – unbelieveable he’s never won coach of the year! Love him. But if the voting were held today, Mark Jackson would be the coach of the year (sorry Thibs). And some fans thought that he could not coach an NBA team? There were obviously dead wrong. I wonder if the W’s front office/owner told Jackson to play Bogut to closeout a game??? I’d bet on it! Lol!

    Another guy (veteran, vocal PG) who might coach like this soon after his playing days are over IMO? Chauncey “Big Shot” Billups.

  6. No one will ever accuse you of being timid, FB. Great stuff.

    Also a pleasure to go back into your work. Everyone, hit the link on this sentence: “I called Stephen Curry a potential Hall of Famer.” Great work, and dead on. Who else saw this his rookie season?

    • for a number of us the signs pointing to curry’s great future were apparent in his rookie year. even for those who go by statistical markers, there were some pretty clear indicators. after seeing some of the plays he created, almost from nothing like a ball going out of bounds [a perfect blind flip over the shoulder to a 'mate going down court ], the player he reminded me most of was j.montana. not a robust physical specimen, like montana, but great vision, touch on the ball, and feel for the game. also like montana, competitiveness that overcame limitations — never knew from the way curry played from day one that he didn’t expect or particularly want to play in oaktown, or that the roster was largely ragamuffin.

  7. Love-struck article about Draymond Green from his college hometown paper:

    http://www.lansingstatejournal.com/article/20130506/GW0201/305060071/

    “For a while this winter, Green was second-guessing his ability to think around the court. Finally, in March, Jackson pulled him aside and demanded that Green play the way he had at MSU.

    “Be who you are,” Jackson told him, “do what you do.”

    Those simple words turned around a rookie season and extended a playoff run.

    Ever since Green heard them, he said, “I’ve been more comfortable with myself.”

    • it’s very tough for me, but have resigned myself to tolerating jackson and his mind numbing cliches and catch phrases, his proselytizing an antiquated and thoughtless belief system. when confronted by necessity he was willing to let go of his habits and embrace change, and for the most part he stuck with green from the season’s start. didn’t discourage him taking the open shots that rarely fell, and didn’t approve mcguire getting signed to the roster because he knew green was the far better player.

  8. Felt, congrats to you for calling Thompson as a great player early this season despite his (then) poor D, erratic shooting and dumb end-of-game mistakes.

    More congrats to Thompson. Very, very few players can turn around their D as he has this season. Last night was a completely dominant, elite performance, rare for any player, yet alone one so young.

    Even more impressively, it was the result of months and years of hard work, not only natural talent. Kudos Klay.

  9. I’m with Petey. As the buzzer sounded to end last night’s game, it occurred to me that I damned sure better change my ways and start pulling hard for OKC against Memphis.

  10. The Warriors opened this series +750 dogs (7.5 to 1). They are now only +150 dogs.

    After beating the Nuggets in Game 2, the Warriors went from +500 to +200.

    So apparently, there are a few more believers that they can win this series than there were in the last.

  11. Somewhat shockingly to me, the Warriors are -2.5 favorites in Game 3. If you truly believed the Spurs were the best team in this series, you would be all over this line. In my experience, home court means nothing, even in the Oracle, when the best team is down in a series.

    I guess this means that belief that the Spurs are best has waned considerably.

  12. Hilarious Reddit post about the Ws:

    http://dimemag.com/2013/05/awesome-golden-state-warriors-reddit-fake-movie-poster/

    Check out the little Timmy D running for his life at the bottom of the pic.

  13. I think Felty that the biggest congrats you deserve is for pushing for the last two years for the Warriors to run. Finally they listened and the result has us in the second round of the playoffs.

    For those who said they saw the potential of Thompson and Barnes, that potential may not have come to fruition in the playoffs and been delayed for years to come, if Jackson had continued to play his slow half-court power offense. In fact, we may have been eliminated in the first round. And Barnes would not be playing as well as he presently is, but for D.Lee going down and forcing Jackson to play Barnes at PF at times (another great Felty call) .It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see, especially if we ran, that he would perform better. Most of us said that.

    With due respect and admiration, I just wish that those who saw Thompson’s and Barnes potential, would have also said that Jackson was holding back their potential, by not installing an up-tempo offense
    I think there is no reason to put those of us down as we saw inconsistent play by both, and said so.

  14. Even though we seem like the superior team, concerns remain as we only scored 38 points in the second half. And our offensive sets, if you can call them that, looked so disorganized, as compared to our crisp plays run in the first half.

  15. Nellieball only works if you have a beast of a center – preferably 2 in sequence – manning the post. Without that, you end up having the play all sorts of junk defenses against bigs, getting killed on second chance points and basically resigning yourself to single shot offense.

    This is why David Lee is not a NellieBall center for a team that expects to go deep in the playoffs. While he’s a great player, his relative weakness playing big men 1 on 1 defensively and general inability to get a high proportion of really tough rebounds dooms him. Offensively, i get it and it would be cool to watch. But you simply give up too much defensively to be worth it. Sure, you could go full on Paul Westhead and try to create a regular 250 point over/under line. But so far, nobody has actually ever won with that theory on any level higher than high school.

    I think this is the right compromise – 4 spread guys and one seven foot beast with attitude. Call it adapted Nellieball

    • Tell that to the Miami Heat (Bosh at center), the OKC Thunder (Ibaka/Collison) and the pre-injury Nuggets, who were featuring Gallinari at 5 in crunchtime. When the Clippers went on their monster run mid-season, they were playing Nellieball in the fourth quarter with Griffin at center.

      I have never believed that David Lee should be played full-time at center. Just on small units and particularly in crunch time. A defensive seven-footer to start the first and third quarters has always been a staple of Nellieball.

      But I take your point in this regard: The Warriors are poorly constructed to play Lee at center, in that they don’t have great defensive wings at the two and three. That is an absolute must on a team that would feature Curry and Lee in the pick and roll.

      As the Warriors are currently constructed, (a healthy) Bogut might just be the best possible fit. As you suggest.

  16. I think you guys are underrating David Lee. I think we would be even more dominant with Lee. You cant double team Curry on a pick and roll with Lee. Another way of looking at it is that Curry and Klay would get even more open shots with Lee. The Dubs will be serious NBA championship contenders next year.

    I think the reason that they have gone on this incredible run is their insane shooting percentage. As Pop put it when these guys are hot its not much you can do. These guys are making shots regardless of the hands in their face. What else can the Spurs defender do?

  17. Felty: I think the Warriors might be tempted to move D.Lee after their seeing there success without him. The playoffs show that. I would not be surprised if the Warriors now think that both D.Lee and Bogut only address our short term problems and are not long-term solutions.
    But, it the Warriors can get good value for D.Lee, including high draft pick in next year’s draft and another player or players which I think D. Lee would bring, I can see them trading him to improve the roster. They even may be able to shore up their center positions. But the Warriors may conclude they want to keep D. Lee, let Bogut’s contract expire, and sign a new mobile free agent center who I suspect would bring more to the table, and see how much success he will have playing in tandem with D.Lee. before making any decision to trade D.Lee. With their success in the playoffs, the Warriors now have more options.

    In the rest of the playoffs with SA, the real question is whether SA will continue to shoot dismal as the result of the Warriors tenacious defense, or will Pop find away to adjust his offense and return SA to shooting 48% from the field as they did during the regular season? The lowest the Warriors have shot from the field in the two games played is 46% compared to SA’s 41%. That’s a significant gap. I don’t think the Warriors FG% will decline.

    • the folks who are now entertaining trade fantasies around D.Lee can amuse themselves with it since the usual draft speculation will be very muted this year, without a major trade. this draft class is rated as weak anyway. no fault of his own, lee was overexposed at the MIT sloan conference, and if myers does find a buyer the fans will probably be disappointed with the returns.

      they don’t reach the post season if lee didn’t help secure the wins during the regular season. they face a bigger variety of opponents in the regular season, and we really don’t have a basis for confidence in bogut keeping all his parts going in the regular season, with its erratic off days and extended travel.

      how does thinking about lee enhance anyone’s enjoyment of what should be pretty high times for the fans, anyway ?

  18. MOTO: You are so right. Thanks for reminding us we should just be discussing the wonderful playoffs.

  19. Agree moto and frank.. here is the question of the hour – how far can the W’s go. I have seen enough to believe that they can and should beat the spurs. Next up…. Thunder or Griz. Have to like their chances against either one of those options. Memphis would be more difficult to contain their post scoring, but then again, they are shooting for two, we are playing for 3. Thunder have been mortally wounded by the Westbrook injury. Could be very fun. Finally against the heat – could win 2 games max….

    Thanks felt for all the great write ups. Your blog is my first stop when I have some time. I have really enjoyed learning some basketball and you are really the only writer that can give the matchup analysis and explain the why…. Great job all year and it is pretty ironic that the W’s have backed into the style of play you were proselytizing all along… Additionally, with the exception of the Steve blow up, the discussions here have been substantial and enjoyable… I enjoyed most of Steve’s posts he just got off track for a while….

  20. No matter what happens from here on in…

    Congrats to Joe Lacob for an outstanding year.

  21. I join with Buckaroo in commending Felty for writing such an informative and enriching view if the game we all love.

    We should apply the MOTO rule by refraining from discussing the next playoff round, and the round after that, till it happens.

    We should take it one game at a time. Each is crucial. The bookies making us 2 1/2 favorites is an indicator that they think SA is going to go all out and throw everything the have at us. One has the feeling this series is going to take twists and turns as they already have that we never expected.After watching the entire season with it’s ebbs and tides, to see the Warriors rise to playing absolutely exhilarating in which find ourselves having an out of body experience jumping out of our seats with each Curry deadly pass or shot from beyond the realm that any mortal should be able hit with such accuracy that those around us watching our going nuts simply marvel at.and join in our ecstasy.Go Warriors!

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