The surprising Phoenix Suns present a nightmare matchup problem for the Warriors. I have no idea how the Warriors win this game if Mark Jackson refuses to match up small, as he did in Charlotte.
The Suns have a two point guard backcourt in Bledsoe and Dragic that has been lighting up the league. Literally the best backcourt in the league on many nights so far this season. How can the Warriors match up without starting Toney Douglas?
I assume Jackson’s opening move will be to crossmatch Curry on 5th option PJ Tucker. But I’m not even sure how that will work out, because Tucker is a rugged, rugged customer.
And it won’t help much even if it does work, because Thompson and Barnes cannot guard the lightning quick Bledsoe and Dragic. No way, no how. They’re going to get lit up.
David Lee also has a nightmare matchup, because every single Suns power forward is a stretch-four. Channing Frye to start, and the interchangeable Morris twins off the bench. Meaning that Lee is going to spend the game trying to guard out at the three point line. Meaning that he’s going to get beat on drives, and be lucky to get 6 rebounds.
Bogut won’t have it much better. Not that Miles Plumlee will create a lot of problems in the half court. The way Bogut gets tortured against teams like this is different and manifold: 1) The mobile Plumlee will beat him up and down the court. 2) Bledsoe and Dragic will use the spread floor and their quickness advantage to mount a sustained assault on the rim. When Bogut rotates to challenge them strong side, the weak side will be wide open to cuts and rebounds. 3) Since Bogut cannot come out of the lane to guard the pick and roll, the Suns’ interchangeable point guards will have all the open foul line shots they can eat.
Foul trouble appears inevitable.
On the other end, Bledsoe is one of the best point guard defenders in the league. If not the best. Even better than Patrick Beverly, and that’s saying something: Beverly gave Curry all sorts of trouble last game. If Phoenix blitzes the Bogut high pick as ferociously as I think they will, another high turnover and stalled offensive game is highly likely.
So how can the Warriors win? Heavy doses of Lee at center and Toney Douglas at the point, that’s how.
Lee will have no problem matching up with Plumlee, and can easily run the floor with him.
And for heavens’ sake, use the Lee pick and roll to break the Curry blitz. If they want to double-team Curry, fine, Lee will bury them playing 4 on three from the foul line.
On the other side of the ball, Lee is a far better defender of the pick and roll than Bogut. He uses his quickness and smarts to come out to hedge against the ballhandler, cover the passing angles, and return to his man.
Toney Douglas can at the very least harass Bledsoe and slow him down. He also helps raise the Warriors’ team speed and amps up their three-point firepower.
With Lee at center, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green can match up with Frye and the Morri out on the floor. I’ll say this right upfront: Not a single one of the Suns’ power forwards can guard Barnes.
Now who wins in a three point shooting contest? Now whose big men run the floor better? Now whose pick and roll is better?
Now whose Nellieball is better?
I’m completely dreaming, of course.
What we’re really going to see:
30+ minutes of Bogut. Desperate alley-oops to feed him some points.
Lots and lots of zone, and packing the paint, and praying that the Suns miss their wide-open threes.
Lots and lots of turnovers. By the Warriors, against the quicker Suns.
Lots and lots of fastbreaks. By the Suns, against the slower Warriors.
The Warriors win the rebounding battle, but lose the war.
C’mon Mark Jackson. Prove me wrong.