Don’t have time for a full recap of this Warriors overtime loss to the Grizzlies, but here’s a few things I think are worth noting:
1) The Grizzlies are a really, really good team. They started the season slowly, but here they are at 7-5 after two great road wins against the Clippers and Warriors. I picked them to finish third in the Conference, and I stand by that. At the end of the season they’ll be right there battling for the top seed.
With the Warriors and Spurs.
2) I was hoping that Mark Jackson would cross-match the frontline, and he did — with 5 minutes left in the game. And from that point until the end of regulation, Zach Randolph was held scoreless by Bogut. Not one basket, not one free throw. And also, I’m pretty sure, not one offensive rebound.
Gasol took David Lee low one time, and got a couple of free throws. But that’s it — because the Grizzlies greatly prefer to play Gasol in the high post. To exploit Lee in this matchup the Grizzlies would have to break their offense, which you shouldn’t mind them doing.
So there you have it: A five minute demonstration of what I have been asking for, clearer than any words can describe it.
Mark Jackson may have had good reason to wait until 5 minutes were left in the game to pull this strategy — the thinness of the frontline bench, perhaps. Fear of exhausting Bogut, or getting Lee in foul trouble. Or maybe as Lee put it, he wanted to “challenge” Lee.
If these two teams meet in the playoffs, though, I think you can expect to see a crossmatch all game, every game.
3) I was also hoping to see Iggy on Conley, and we did get that in this game. And it was very, very effective. Particularly in the first half.
4) Barnes was very effective going at Conley in the first half. In the second half, though, when guarded by the bigger Pondexter, he started spinning and fading away. And bricked every shot. 6-14 for the game.
It looks to me like the Warriors are asking Barnes to face up in the triple threat position in the midpost now, rather than pound the basketball with his back to the basket. And that has been FAR more effective for him in the last two games.
Did some good and interesting things at point forward that we haven’t seen before. Rebounded well, particularly in the “small” frontline of Bogut, Green and himself.
Defense, well. I’m frankly baffled by the narrative that he’s a good defender. Bob Myers must be up to his old tricks again, buying bloggers dinner.
Or setting up meetings with Marv Albert.
5) Speights is quite obviously struggling to grasp what Mark Jackson wants from him on both ends — he keeps getting the quick hook.
In my opinion, though, it is not all his fault. I said before the season that Speights is a center and not a power forward. And I think we’ve seen more than enough from him this season to confirm my judgement. Speights struggles badly defensively when at the power forward. Both because he lacks the requisite quickness and foot speed, and because he lacks the uh… acuity to grasp the more complex defensive rotations from the power forward position. If you remember, this was the reason Don Nelson gave for playing Brandan Wright strictly at backup center. (As does Rick Carlisle now.)
Both on offense and defense, Speights is a much better player at center. And I think he could be a very effective player in a small lineup with Draymond Green and Barnes. But we’ve never seen that lineup this season, have we? Speights has played power forward alongside JON and Bogut, and occasionally center alongside Lee.
6) Speaking of Green, he continues to be the Warriors’ best player off the bench. And yet his minutes continue to be severely restricted, as Jackson has opted to play big all game long, every game. He was even going to play the raw rookie Kuzmic in this game, until he broke his finger.
There might have been good reason to stay big when Kosta Koufos took the floor.
But then again, there might not.
A lot of great NBA coaches have proven that there’s something to the idea of putting your best team on the floor, and forcing the other team to match up with you.
7) I’m starting to cringe whenever Bazemore takes the floor now. It is beyond obvious that he doesn’t have the handle or the vision to be an NBA point guard. How much longer can this experiment go on?
Bazemore has the tools to be a very effective 3-and-D wing. Why not let him fulfill his true destiny? Couldn’t the Warriors use a little of that?
8) Before this season started, right after the trade that brought Andre Iguodala to the Warriors, in fact, I wrote that the Warriors would at some point this season greatly miss Jarret Jack’s clutch fourth quarter shooting. I wrote that Iggy could not be relied upon in the fourth quarter, because he’s a poor shooter off the dribble, who shoots less than 40% from midrange. And I wrote that Philly fans got sick of him always trying to be the fourth quarter hero — a role he’s completely unsuited for — to the extent that they booed him out of town.
And the very night that he made his hero shot to beat the Thunder, my take was that I was dismayed that Mark Jackson has made him his closer.
In part due to Iggy’s hot start to the season, I have received not a little pushback for these opinions. Well… now you at least have an idea of where I was coming from. Iggy made a conscious decision to play the hero in the fourth quarter of this game, and called his own number again and again and again.
Laying brick after brick after brick.
Not saying he didn’t have a great floor game — he did. And I’m not saying anything about the last play of regulation — that was on Mark Jackson.
I’m talking about wanting to be the hero. Kobe Bryant. Kevin Durant.
9) The last play: When Iggy rebounded the ball with about ten seconds left in regulation and the score tied, Mark Jackson elected not to call a timeout. He told Iggy to “GO!”, wanting him to push the ball, and look for early offense before the defense could get set.
Under normal circumstances, when coaches like Don Nelson or Greg Popovich do this, I absolutely love it. I am convinced that it’s the best strategy, that it gets you the best shot.
Because those coaches always have five shooters on the floor in crunchtime.
But take a look at what happened to the Warriors. Iggy pushed the ball, and got stymied at the free throw line by Mike Conley. Iggy then stopped and pivoted, looking behind him for his trailer, his outlet, his open three point shooter…
And saw Andrew Bogut, lumbering over half court.
Oops. Mark Jackson needed a timeout, to get Bogut out, and a shooter in.
Jeez, I guess I gave a recap after all.
Some guys just can’t shut up.