Warriors 108 Grizzlies 82: The Crossmatch

David Lee took it to Zach Randolph! 23 points 11 rebounds versus a measly 15 and 6!

Is that the storyline, or is it that Mark Jackson finally got the matchups right? That he crossmatched Bogut on Randolph all game long, giving Zebo absolutely nothing inside?

The crossmatch was made a little easier by Gasol being replaced in the starting lineup by Kosta Koufos. Or was it? Gasol is a high-post player, ideal for Lee to guard, Koufos a low.

Of course the real storyline, as everyone knows, is that the Grizzlies are as decimated as were the Nuggets in last year’s playoffs. They’re not going to win too many games with both Gasol and Tony Allen shelved.

But them’s the breaks in the long NBA season. The Warriors have been pretty unlucky so far this season, and deserve some breaks of their own.

We’ll take it.

Stephen Curry: Curry quite clearly got an earful after the Houston game. In this game, he didn’t look at all for his own offense until the third quarter, making sure to get both Thompson and Lee going first.

15 assists, 1 TO. Yes, he was facing a shell of a team. But it was still a good look.

We may see more of this mindset going forward.

Klay Thompson: Mark Jackson “broke” his offense to get Klay the first two shots of the game, and did that make a difference in getting him going?

Not that Klay doesn’t deserve some blame for his Houston performance. He has been known to disappear on occasion when the opposing team puts a good defender on him, and gameplans to shut him down. San Antonio and Kawhi Leonard come to mind. In Houston, Klay had trouble with the length of Chandler Parsons, and wasn’t aggressive trying to drive around him. The presence of Dwight Howard in the lane might have had something to do with that.

But I think Klay’s disappearances also have something to do with Mark Jackson. When Jackson forces individual offense, it starts with Curry, of course. But after Curry comes Lee in isolation, and then Barnes in isolation. And Iggy is in the mix — he’s received many of the point-guard postups in Barnes’ place this season.

Thompson comes after all of these other players in getting his number called. Jackson is on record as expecting Thompson to get his shots in the flow of the offense. So much so, that there have been games when Jackson seems to completely have forgotten about him. After one such game this season, when Thompson got a total of 7 shots against the Clippers, Jackson stated defensively that he wouldn’t “break his offense” to get Klay shots. And yet that’s exactly what he did in the next game to get Klay going.

Just as he did in this game.

Klay doesn’t yet have the veteran standing of Curry, Lee and Iguodala on this team. He’s a very young player playing on a team with some very accomplished veterans. It wouldn’t do for him to get in their face and say, “Get me the damn ball!” That’s just not on.

And maybe it’s not in his personality to say that. It’s what a superstar would say, though. It’s what Reggie Miller would say, and Klay Thompson is a better player than Reggie Miller. Better at everything.

Andre Iguodala already knows what he has in Klay Thompson. He stated in a postgame interview that “Klay is my favorite player,” and that he’s going to make sure Klay gets fed the ball. And Iggy did exactly that in the early going.

Maybe it’s time that Mark Jackson took the same initiative as Iggy. Because whenever Jackson “breaks his offense” to get Klay the ball, good things happen.

And if Mark Jackson won’t do it, maybe it’s time for Klay Thompson to open his mouth.

Like a superstar should.

More Thompson: Fabulous defense on Conley in this game, though no doubt aided by not having to run around Gasol screens. (Klay’s length and hoops IQ make him a very good defender of point guards who like to operate in the paint. It’s against smaller wings out on the perimeter that his lack of elite athleticism betrays him.)

5 assists. His playmaking ability continues to blossom. Of particular note to me in this game were an alley-oop to David Lee, and a drive and dish to Bogut in the lane.

David Lee: Speaking of “Get me the damn ball!”, I’m pretty sure that’s essentially what the mild-mannered, team-oriented Lee said in his post-game interview. His exact words were something like:

I got 6 or 8 shots up last game… I came out thinking I’m going to be aggressive… I think I can help this team win….

In other words: Get me the damn ball!

The Warriors did a much better job of that in this game. And interestingly, not by giving him the stupid postups Jackson has been torturing him with this season. Lee got his isos further out on the wings, allowing him to use his speed driving to the bucket. And he was hit several times on cuts, and on spot-ups.

That’s how you use David Lee. Assuming, of course, that you’re not going to allow him his bread and butter: pick and roll.

That’s a gripe for another recap.

Harrison Barnes: I don’t know if you noticed, but in this game where the Warriors offense flowed like a crystalline mountain stream, Barnes got virtually no isolations. When the Warriors “broke” their offense, it wasn’t for Barnes, but for Thompson and Lee.

Did a lightbulb suddenly go off in Mark Jackson’s head, or was this just a byproduct of the Grizzlies guarding Barnes with their small forwards, instead of their point guards? If the latter, we can give the Grizzlies rookie coach partial credit for this win.

By “virtually no isolations,” I mean exactly three. And in all three, Barnes turned the ball over in ridiculous fashion. The ball flew wildly out of his hands, in the spasmodic throes of moves he had no idea how he was going to finish.

This makes two straight games in which Barnes has been guarded chiefly by his counterpart at small forward, and two straight games in which his offensive game has been wretched. The games in which he’s been efficient this season, he’s been guarded by point guards.

I don’t intend to pick on Barnes all season long. I think we’ve already had enough of a sample size this season to confirm what I predicted before the season: that those people who were hyped up by his post-season performances at power forward, were going to be greatly disappointed by his performances at small forward in the regular season. I have been countering not a little hype from media members, fans, and yes, the Warriors PR machine itself, by accurately pointing out the true strengths and flaws in Barnes’ game. At this point, I don’t think there’s any need to pile on further.

The fact of the matter is that Barnes has been completely miscast by Mark Jackson and the Warriors brass this season. He has an extremely long way to go to make himself a competent NBA small forward (and I, for one, don’t believe he has the tools to do it). And his post-up offense, intended to punish opposing teams for putting their best defenders on Curry and Thompson, has been grossly detrimental to the flow of the Warriors team offense. Opposing coaches have been setting a trap for Mark Jackson, and he has fallen in head first.

17 points, 7 rebounds. Do you recognize those numbers?

That’s what Barnes averaged in the Western Conference Semi-Finals last season. Playing power forward.

That’s what Barnes is, a power forward. Or more specifically, a stretch-four. It makes him a nightmare to guard. Gets him more open on threes. Opens up his drive against bigger, slower players.

It also helps hide his most glaring weaknesses. Most particularly his defense — he is a far better defender of bigger players. But also his rebounding — because he’s far better using his quickness to get to loose rebounds in a spread floor than he is fighting with the trees in big lineups. And his ballhandling — because power forwards can’t challenge his dribble.

And playing Barnes at the four makes the Warriors team as a whole a nightmare to guard. Spreads the floor. Opens the middle for cuts and slashes, and for pick and roll.

Now, I don’t mean to agitate the contingent led by Ethan Strauss, who came into this season believing that David Lee was “in Barnes’ way” at power forward. That’s simply not the case, because Barnes is way too small to be a starting power forward. His role in the NBA, his best position, is to come off the bench at stretch-four.

Mark Jackson has gone back to pounding square pegs into round holes. Not only with Harrison Barnes, but with this Warriors team as a whole.

The Warriors will not reach their full potential until Jackson takes the chains off their smallball unit.

Mavericks 108 Blazers 106

I can’t resist mentioning that the Mavs stole one from the Blazers in the Rose Garden tonight. Wondering how they did that?

I’ll give you three reasons: 1) Carlisle double-teamed LaMarcus Aldridge, and braved the Blazers’ three-point shooting as the lesser of two evils; 2) Carlisle crossmatched his small forward Shawn Marion onto Damian Lillard, hiding Jose Calderon on Nic Batum.

(Just to mention two things that Mark Jackson didn’t do.)

3) A closer by the name of Monta Ellis. Carlisle got him the ball on the move for the last second game-winner.

(Just to mention a third.)

Coaching matters.

22 Responses to Warriors 108 Grizzlies 82: The Crossmatch

  1. Thanks, Feltbot. I’m still surprised Memphis couldn’t adjust for Klay. He got up 9 shots the first quarter, all good looks, while the rest only got up a few and Curry none.

    Getting off to a good start should be a priority, especially with the nonproductive starters, Barnes and Bogut, the injuries, and the weak bench. And while I have no objection to Curry’s feeding the hot hand, the team should get him involved early when other options are not working to keep the game in hand.

    Where would Memphis have been without their bench scorers, Leuer and Miller? 31 points at high %. 1.8 million salary for the two. This is something the Warriors could have done.

    Proof that +/– stats are misleading: Barnes was +24 for the night, highest of all players.

    Or proof he is a budding superstar. Take your pick. But I repeat Fitz’s comment first half about the Memphis offense: “Interesting they keep going to Harrison Barnes.”

  2. Glad to see the Warriors abandon their dribble offense (way to many turnovers) they employed against Houston and revert to the passing game. Against Houston, they just ran their plays and ignored what the defense was given them.

    Agree with your comments regarding Barnes. Iso’s for him should be abandoned. He also doesn’t have a clue when to drive and when not to.
    He should play the back-up PF.

    He’s game should be either taking a wide open shot, or taking one dribble and going up for his jump shot and he should abandon his going to nowhere which results on turnovers since he’s poor at handling the ball, and putting on three moves before he goes up for his shot. He should drive against slower PF’s.

    Small ball has limited use. Good coaches know how to destroy it’s defenses. If you want Lee, Iggy, and Barnes up-front, I’m not with you.

    Warriors doing quite well with Bogut or JON on the court.

    Glad to see Speights minutes limited to 10 or less, and his effective offense limited to tip-ins and put-backs rather then jump shots and drives.

    rgg: +/- minus are misleading only if you don’t look deeper. It’s not an individual indicator but rather indicates the team’s play with a particular player.

    As +/-only shows how the team played with a particular player on the court and one must consider how the opposition played during the same corresponding time.With Barnes playing with hot-shooting Lee and Thompson, and Memphis not hitting the side of the the barn (they shot 36% from the field ), one would expect the Warriors to have a positive with Barnes on the court, even though his individual offense was just pedestrian. The Warriors great production with Barnes on the court had nothing with his offense nor defense.

    There will be games where a player has great ind. stats and other players performed badly or the opposition performed even better resulting in the player having a high minus even though he played well on offense.

    It’s interesting to note that both Bogut and Lee get about 1 out of every three Warrior contested defensive rebounds in a game. But the good thing is there are on average only three contested DR’s in a game for each player. Given how few are contested, one should not go ga-ga over the number of defensive rebounds each garners, and there numbers also increase or decrease depending on the FG shooting of the opposition.

    • I meant to say +/– “can be misleading,” as is dramatically the case here. Yes, of course, interpretation is everything.

  3. Felt,

    Good call on the crossmatch. Looks like Jackson took your advice.

    Curry too. Only 3 isos for Barnes, so he didn’t do too much harm.

  4. After the Mavs game, Monta said he lives for that final shot. THAT is a closer.

  5. Warriors won’t go anywhere running their offense through Klay. It should be Curry Dlee and Klay. Curry is smart enough to recognize and feed whoever is ‘on’. You do have a ooint though on the HB iso. But which would you rather have, Barnes low low IQ tunnel vision offense or Boguts ugly clankers?

    • Getting the ball to Bogut on the move near the hoop is a pretty high % play, and he seems to be gradually getting better at it. Lee is even better in that scenario, of course.

      Getting the ball to any of them in an iso has proven not to be a high% opportunity.

  6. I really don’t think this game gives us much valuable data. Anyone thinking that we are over the hump with Memphis because of this win is, to put it bluntly, an idiot. No Gasol, no Allen, you can’t earn much respect for a win against that team. Even in Memphis. Even coming off a b2b. At least Lee didn’t get killed.

    • Right, not a win for the ages. Still a win, and it could easily not have been if the offense had been run like it has been in the last few games. If Jackson learned something from this game, it would be a HUGE win for the team. If he didn’t, you’re right, it’s no biggie.

      The flip side of the Bogut-on-Zbo matchup was that Lee matched up with Koufos, a much improved situation for Lee on both ends of the floor.

      • Actually, the Grizzlies didn’t crossmatch. Lee was guarded by Zebo, and scored well against him, as he should. Zebo can’t guard him at all, in the right system.

        • You’re probably right. I saw Lee beat Koufos a couple of times, but that was probably on a switch or something.

  7. “The Toronto Raptors have reached an agreement in principle to send Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

    The Kings will send Greivis Vasquez, John Salmons, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes to the Raptors. The Kings will also acquire Quincy Acy and Aaron Gray in the deal, sources said.”

    I can’t for the life of me think why the Kings would do this deal. They plan on playing Gay and DWill together as interchangeable “stretch forwards”. Meaning they will have two stretch forwards who can’t shoot, defend or rebound…. Maybe Vivek is just determined to put some butts in the seats in Sacto?

    There is one positive side effect for the Kings: the starting pg job is now Isaiah Thomas’. And fantasy owners who took my advice to draft Thomas have officially hit the jackpot.

    For the Raptors, this was clearly a salary dump, as well as a move in aid of tanking. But one very underrated aspect of the trade, is that we’ll now get to see what Terrence Ross can do. I have predicted that he will be a better pro than Harrison Barnes.

    • I suspect the Kings made the move to improve the locker room more than the court game. Isaiah is a natural leader, Gay is an experienced leader, and Cousins could learn from them both. A “change the culture” thing.

    • most of the experts over on lauridsen’s blog sound highly critical of ranadive and d’allesandro, such are the depths to which the gay gunner has sunk. with that kind of consensus, my inclination is to wait and see whether Malone gets the made-over ensemble onto a coherent course, or d’allesandro has further changes in mind ; Sac had probably seen enough of the quartet going to Tor and wanted a different set of possibilities.

  8. Now that I think about it, getting Ross into the starting lineup, and Patterson into the reserve lineup, in place of Rudy Gay, will probably have the unintended consequence of making the Raptors immediately better.

    More tanking is necessary. Could Kyle Lowry be next?

    • With teams trading, what will it take to shop Bogut elsewhere to get a legitimate center. I hear Houston is looking for takers on Asik.

      • Houston would have to give someone else up to make the trade work to meet cap rules, or GSW would have to bundle someone else for Asik + another player. Hard to believe Houston would want to take on Bogut’s contract. It might have been attractive had Bogut’s contract not been extended, since Bogut would have offered an expiring contract and they would have been freed of Asik’s salary next year.

        But Ahab is obsessed with his white whale and isn’t going to give him up. (We know how that story ended.)

      • knick — Bogut serves an important purpose on this Warriors roster. A center who is smart enough and physical enough to defensively handle some of the other slow, plodding, physical centers in the league. He is ineffective against about half the teams in the league, but against the half with slow, plodding centers who used to out muscle the Warriors, Bogut is a good answer. Mark Jackson just needs to figure out when to play him and when not to play him, and things will be hunky-dory.

        Additionally, he has been a presence at the rim and the Warriors seem to be giving up fewer bunnies at the rim with him in the game.

  9. Zach Lowe tries to explain the inexplicable:

    http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/85058/a-new-king-what-the-rudy-gay-trade-means-for-toronto-and-sacramento

    Note the Terrence Ross excitement. His time is coming, particularly if Ujiri succeeds in dumping DeRozan.

    I’m scratching my head trying to think who might take Lowry. He’s a darn good player who just recently edged into the top 10 fantasy rankings (and yes, I recommended him as well as Isaiah Thomas as sleepers). Not too many teams out there looking to get better by trade.

    • Feltbot, doesn’t that description of Gay’s game remind you of Harrison Barnes’ game a little bit? Or a lot?

      • They don’t have to be similar players, as Barnes is smaller and quicker than Gay, and a far better three point shooter.

        But the way Barnes is being mis-used in iso, pounding the ball to hoist up midrange jumpers, yes they are very similar in result.

  10. Charlotte:

    Work reared its ugly head and I missed the first half. Same old story or anything new?

    One way to help a team get into an offensive rhythm is not be able to score yourself. It takes the pressure off their shots and builds their confidence.

    Curry and Klay would be much more effective if they were complementing a balanced offensive attack instead of having to bail the team out when they get behind.

    B ‘n B looked useless second half.

    This one is going to continue to linger. What would this team have been like now if intelligent decisions had been made on the roster three years ago, from the bench on up?

    And on the coach.