I’m guessing this was just Mark Jackson experimenting in the preseason — hoping that’s what it was — but this loss was a simple case of playing the wrong lineup in the fourth quarter. It’s really as simple as that.
In the fourth quarter, the Miami Heat sit Anthony and Haslem on the bench, shift Bosh to center and Lebron to stretch-four. And the court miraculously opens up for them.
In the fourth quarter, the OKC Thunder sit Perkins on the bench, shift Ibaka to center and Durant to stretch-four. And the court miraculously opens up for them.
In the fourth quarter, the Spurs sit Splitter on the bench, shift Duncan to center and Leonard to stretch-four. And the court miraculously opens up for them.
And yet here is Mark Jackson, possessed of potentially the most devastating fourth quarter small-ball closing unit in the game, stinking up the floor with Andrew Bogut.
Did you see Stephen Curry get the living crap blitzed out of him by Mike Malone in the fourth quarter? As Jerry West said, when asked about those blitzes last year: “That’s on the coaches.” Specifically, it’s on coaches who play Andrew Bogut in crunch time.
Take a look at the Curry/Bogut pick and roll at 2:00 4th quarter. Curry gets the crap blitzed out of him, and hits Bogut sliding down the lane. Only Bogut forgets to catch the ball. Why? We learned the answer in last year’s playoffs, when Jim Barnett accused Bogut of playing “hot potato” on catches in the lane: Bogut was afraid to catch the ball, because he didn’t want to have to go to the free throw line in crunch time. In addition to arthritis, Bogut has Biedrinsitis.
Now take a look at the Curry/Lee pick and roll at 0:50. Curry gets the crap blitzed out of him, and hits David Lee. Lee, of course, catches the ball easily and storms down the lane… only to run straight into Bogut’s man, Jason Thompson. Why? Why is Bogut’s man standing still as a rock under the basket, waiting?
Because Bogut doesn’t need to be guarded.
Because Bogut doesn’t spread the floor.
Andrew Bogut stinks up the lane for the entire Warriors offense. We learned this lesson, or should have learned it, in last year’s playoffs against the Spurs, when everyone from Jeff van Gundy to Mitch Richmond noted that the difference between the two teams was that the Spurs had centers who could convert the pick and roll, and the Warriors didn’t. And that the Warriors were playing “3 on 5.”
The Warriors were playing 3 on 5 again last night in crunch time. Just as they were playing 3 on 5 to start the first and third quarters. And will be playing 3 on 5 every single moment that Bogut and Andre Iguodala are on the court together. When you have decided to replace Jarrett Jack with Iggy in the crunchtime lineup, you absolutely MUST have a shooting center on the floor. There is no other choice. You MUST get Bogut off the court.
If you want to be able to put the ball in Stephen Curry’s hands and ask him to create, without fear of him getting the living crap blitzed out of him, you absolutely MUST get him a shooting center to play pick and roll with, and spread the floor. There is no other choice. You MUST get Bogut off the court.
David Lee is the best pick and roll center in the NBA, hands down. Stephen Curry and David Lee, if they ever got a chance to show it, would be one of the best pick and roll tandems the league has ever seen. The Warriors have two very capable stretch-fours, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green. And if you truly must have size on the court (which you absolutely DON’T, against the under-talented Kings), then Mo Speights can stretch the floor for Curry and Lee.
The Warriors demonstrated all season long last year what they could do in crunchtime with a Nellieball lineup. Against the best teams in the league. Against the Heat in Miami, for heaven’s sake.
Now, the addition of Andre Iguodala, and the maturation of Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green, promises to make those Nellieball closing units more potent than ever. Unguardable on offense. And yet still long, quick and nasty on defense. A veritable point-differential machine.
If Mark Jackson doesn’t choke.
If he doesn’t screw the pooch on the best — and most dynamic — roster the Warriors have had since the Rick Barry era.
It’s just the preseason, and Jackson is just getting guys in shape, and experimenting. Right?
Because if not — if this game signifies that Mark Jackson believes Bogut’s “return to health” means that the Warriors should try to win basketball games by scores of 91 to 89 — like his old Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks — then one of the greatest crimes against basketball that’s ever been committed is about to take place.