There’s nothing like a Jermaine O’Neal injury to make Mark Jackson a better coach, is there? The Warriors played big virtually every minute of the first two games. But in this game against the Kings, Jackson was forced to give major minutes to Speights and Lee at center, and to Draymond Green at power forward in the second and fourth quarters.
Accidentally causing the Warriors to explode. Oops!
I have nothing against the Warriors playing big, particularly in the first and third quarters. Those are the quarters to meet size with size, force with force. And to save the bodies of your most gifted players for crunch time, and the playoffs.
And — in principle — I have nothing against the Warriors playing big with their second units, and in crunch time, either. Just so long as by doing so they are putting their BEST team on the floor.
As this game indicated, those big teams need to be pretty darn good if Jackson prefers them. Because the Warriors smallball units of Lee or Speights at center, Green or Barnes at stretch-four, Iggy at free safety, the Splash Brothers, and a sprinkling of Toney Douglas on top, are going to be absolutely extraordinary.
As good a smallball squad as exists in the league.
Those Short Sleeve Jerseys: Let’s start with the first thing we all noticed about this game.
Can we just stop this please? Hideous is not adequate to describe these jerseys.
The Warriors looked like a bunch of NASA engineers running around in their underwear.
Bogut: Does it seem odd that premier NBA big man DeMarcus Cousins is a far better matchup for Bogut than DeAndre Jordan? That’s the way of the NBA, where matchups are king.
DeAndre Jordan left Bogut eating dust, running the floor. Cousins is fast for his size, but he never beat Bogut down court in this game.
The quicksilver Jordan went right around and over Bogut for offensive rebounds. But Bogut had little problem keeping Boogie on his back.
And as we saw, Bogut ate the still completely unschooled Cousins alive on the low block. Like Blake Griffin, and Shaquille O’Neal before him, Cousins relies more on bullying than technique down low. Bogut is made for that stuff.
(Memo to Mark Jackson: Bogut is made for Blake Griffin. And David Lee is made for DeAndre Jordan.)
On the offensive end, Mark Jackson opened the game with two straight Bogut postups. The first ended in a right-handed jump hook, the first with that hand this season. Was that for me?
The second was to his preferred left hand. That one was definitely for Cousins, and it just might have made his head explode.
It certainly made Mike Malone’s head explode: I believe I heard the words “No resistance, no fight, no pride” emanate from my TV as I wrote this up.
Great game from the Warriors big man, in the role he was designed for. And pride of place in my write-up.
The Kings: While we’re on the subject of Mike Malone, I might as well mention that I think he’s made every right decision so far in putting his team together. Starting Vasquez, putting Isaiah Thomas in the Manu Ginobili sixth man role, playing them both together in the fourth quarter (as I predicted in my fantasy sleeper posts). Starting Patrick Patterson over Jason Thompson at the four, to spread the floor for Boogie. (It’s not Malone’s fault Patterson hasn’t hit a shot so far this season.) Benching (and soon dumping) Jimmer Fredette. (As the great Bob Fitzgerald noted this evening, Jimmer is not big or quick enough to become JJ Redick. Like Seth Curry, it’s point guard or bust for him.) Starting Salmons and Thornton, and working Macklemore in off the bench (but if this game is any indication, one of those defensive dogs will be sitting before long). Benching MBam. (You can’t play small forward in this league if you can’t shoot. Horrible signing.)
Masterful stuff. And he gives great post-game interview. Used several choice words that would make Mark Jackson’s congregation blush.
Macklemore: If the NBA draft can be regarded as a thrift shop, then the Kings just might have found themselves a leopard mink.
(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Klay Thompson: Why does Mark Jackson so often feel the need to lie to the media? Warriors fans are not fools, and not all of the Warriors media are either.
When asked about Klay Thompson getting no shots in the first quarter, and only 7 for the game in that Clippers fiasco, Jackson stated that he’s not going to “break” his offense to get Klay shots. That Klay has to work to get open, work within the offense, and blah, blah, etc.
I understand that there might have been a message for Klay in that, but there was also nothing but disrespect for his listeners. What utter nonsense.
In this game, after the first two plays were called for Bogut, Jackson immediately “broke” his offense to get a shot for Klay Thompson. On a called play. Third play of the game.
At 7:00 1Q, another called play: pindown, curl, layup. And at 3:30 1Q: post-up of Marcus Thornton, free throws.
At halftime of this game, Curry was asked about the Clipper game, and the secret to getting Klay going. The first thing out of his mouth: “Play-calling.”
I have frequently heard great coaches admit when they’ve made a mistake in a game. Popovich, Nelson, Van Gundy.
Not Mark Jackson. Maybe he should take a lesson.
Curry: It was all going so well there for a while. And then that third quarter….
Hey, 7 turnovers is quite an improvement from 11 though, right? Statphreaks, what’s that in percentage terms?
Quite a few of those 12 assists came on pick and roll, pick and pop action with Speights or Lee, in the 2nd and 4th quarter smallball units.
(Memo to Mark Jackson: Your big team is pretty good. Your small team is great.)
Green: A vintage Green defensive effort, in the role that he was designed for: Stretch-four.
It was obvious how efficient the Warriors smallball offense was in this game, helped by Green’s floor spreading. But did you notice how damn good the smallball defense was? The Warriors smallball team literally shut the Kings down. Quick rotations, quick hands, disruption, steals. Toney Douglas and Andre Iguodala had a lot to do with that, but Green was a monster.
I predicted before the season that the Warriors smallball lineups — particularly Lee at center, Green/Barnes at stretch-four — would lead the team in point-differential. That lineup was +10 in this game. We’re well on our way.
Lee: Ho hum, 15-12-3 in 31 minutes. Incredible pick and roll chemistry with Curry. Running the floor. All that mundane stuff that Warriors fans regard as “serviceable.”
I’d like to point out something not so mundane: His defense while playing center in this game. I mean beyond the fact that the Warriors generated incredible point-differential with him at the position. Let’s look a little deeper:
Did you notice how the Warriors defended the Isaiah Thomas high pick at the three point line? They did it by bringing their smallball centers, Speights and Lee, all the way out to hedge.
And Lee in particular did a fantastic job at this. Used his mobility to prevent Thomas from turning the corner, and recovered in a flash to pick up his man in the paint.
That’s something that Andrew Bogut doesn’t have a prayer of doing, which happened to cost the Warriors dearly against Chris Paul in the last game. Not to mention against Tony Parker in the playoffs.
Something to chew on, haters.
Speights: I predicted before the season that Mo Speights would be a great addition to the Warriors — at center. It didn’t take long for the need to play him at that position to arise, did it?
And as this game showed quite clearly, it’s his best position. He is a far better defender of big boys in the paint than he is chasing shooters out on the floor. He uses his size and strength well down low — doesn’t get pushed around in the box, and rebounds the position.
And on the offensive end, that superb pick and pop ability goes from being of mediocre efficiency when he’s at the four (mid-range twos, meh), to being a creator of super-efficient offense when he’s at the five. Because it’s a Blitz Breaker. It punishes the blitz, and will make teams more reluctant to double team Curry on the high pick.
And it’s not just Curry who benefits from playing with a shooting center, but the entire team. The whole floor opens up when your center is deadly from 18 feet out. Did you happen to see Speights swing the ball to Toney Douglas in the corner near the end of the game? The pass was perfect, and the shot was wide open. (He missed.)
(Memo to Mark Jackson: Speights is a center.)
Toney Douglas: All you worrywarts out there, remember this game. This game is the reason why the Warriors acquired TD. He destroyed Isaiah Thomas (with help from the pick and roll hedging ability of Speights and David Lee). Destroyed.
Do you know how hard it is to do that? Take a look at what Thomas has done so far this season. Take a look at what he did to Chris Paul yesterday. Or what he did in the second half of last season. Isaiah Thomas is a fantastic player, who will compete this season for Sixth Man of the Year.
Toney Douglas destroyed him.
TD can also shoot it a little bit, in the right system. (Running.)
That’s two good games out of three from TD, and I like what I’m seeing.
Barnes: Gary St. Jean let the words “bone bruise” slip out in the pre-game.
I still think it’s turf toe.
Best Passing Team in the NBA: Curry and Iggy combined for 17 assists. Will they lead the NBA as a backcourt? The Warriors combined for 28 assists overall. Will they lead the league in assisted baskets? I predicted they would in the preseason, and the early results are positive.
- Iggy to Bogut alley-oop at 8:20 3Q.
- Lee outlet pass to halfcourt at 3:55 3Q.
- Point-Klay at 10:55 4Q: Drive and dish to Speights for the J.
- Point-Iggy at 9:15 4Q: Drive and dish to Speights for the J.
- Curry-Lee pick and pop at 4:26 4Q: Surprise! No pop — Lee hits Curry on perfectly timed backdoor for the And One floater.
Closing Games: How the Warriors are going to close games this season, without Jarrett Jack, has been identified as a major issue by the readers of this blog, and assorted media members. I happen to believe — relying chiefly on what I witnessed in his rookie season under Don Nelson — that Stephen Curry is capable of being a great closer — with the right lineup on the court, spreading the floor. Others disagree.
But I also feel that the unique makeup of the Warriors, with ultra-high IQ, great passing and great shooting players at virtually every position, may not require a single closer. With the great San Antonio teams, you never knew whether Parker, Duncan or Ginobili was going to take that last shot, and the Warriors just might have what it takes to execute crunch time offense at the Spurs’ level.
As it’s a matter of intense interest, I intend to to shine a spotlight on this issue. This particular game didn’t come down to the wire, but the Warriors did have the ball in their hands to end the 1st and 3rd quarters, and that provided us some initial clues:
- 1Q: Jackson makes a great substitution of Curry for Speights, leaving Green at center. Green and Curry execute a perfect pick and pop at the top of the key, and Green buries the three. That baby was wiiiiiiiiiiide open.
- 3Q: Isaiah Thomas is guarding Curry, and Jackson makes another great call: A Curry elbow iso. Drop the shoulder to knock Thomas on his heels… fade away J…