Warriors 89 Nuggets 81: The Defense Returns

Whether due to injury to Bogut or not, the David Lee at center, Green at 4 unit effectively closed the game over the last 3 minutes, expanding the lead. They would have won the game, as David Lee cleverly pointed out post-game, even if the Warriors hadn’t scored in the final 3 minutes. That’s how good that unit was defensively.            

It’s worth noting that when Iggy got injured, the Warriors defense fell off a cliff, despite Bogut being healthy the entire time. And now, one could argue that when Bogut is removed in the fourth quarter, the defense doesn’t fall off a bit, due to the ability to get another superlative wing defender — Green — on the floor in his place. It might even get better, given the opponent.

Effective defense starts with perimeter defense.

Bogut: interesting how his ankle always hurts more on the road than at home. Going back to last year’s playoffs. If it’s truly starting to hurt him, that’s not a good sign. It will only get worse as the season progresses.

Iggy: Still way below his level to start the season. The fact that the Warriors are nevertheless so much better with him on the court is a total indictment of Barnes’ game. Don’t know how you can avoid that conclusion.

Barnes: is he completely healthy? Because if so, he should be humiliated by his recent efforts. In this game: 0 rb, blks, stls. He does less dirty work in 36 minutes than Green does in 5. And his offense doesn’t come close to making up for it. As we’ve noted, when actually being guarded by SFs, he has no offense.

Lee: Lost in the hoopla over being the best Warrior on the offensive side of the ball, was the defensive performance he put on JJ Hickson. Anyone notice that?

I didn’t think so.

A couple of nights ago Kevin Love and Blake Griffin lit each other up, to the tune of 45 and 32 points, respectively. Anyone remember either one of those guys lighting up David Lee?

Did that thought cross anyone’s mind when they saw that box score for the first time?

I didn’t think so.

Has anyone, in history, every suggested that Kevin Love or Blake Griffin be traded because of their putrid defense?

I didn’t think so.

Before the season started, I predicted that Andre Iguodala would make David Lee a much better defender. No one knew what I meant. Well, it should be clear to everyone now. What makes Lee a good defender is being surrounded by tough and mobile perimeter defenders. He can handle his own man, thank you very much. Yes, better than Love, and better than Griffin.

OK, enough of that nonsense. Who should we trade him for?

The Bench: Bazemore and Douglas got a total of 14 minutes in this game. If Mark Jackson has in mind that Harrison Barnes can play two-guard on a regular basis, the Warriors are going to get slaughtered against the better teams in the league.

If Douglas and Bazemore cannot safely be relied upon for more minutes, it is imperative that the Warriors make a trade for a veteran backup guard.

28 Responses to Warriors 89 Nuggets 81: The Defense Returns

  1. Someone would argue—and probably has—that Bogut’s going out was a break as it forced Mozgov to go out as well the last two minutes, thus easing the defensive burden. I don’t buy that in the least, or that Bogut’s or Mozgov’s presence is important for either team.

    Your counter?

    A greater test on the defense would have been if Faried had played, and I suspect the Bogut and Lee front court would have fared much worse.

    What I want to argue is that the Bogut and Lee front court is not effective defensively against most teams in probably over 75% of the situations they face. With Bogut on the court, they give up too much in range and mobility. All his rebounds, in the overall scheme, don’t offset the loss and really aren’t that significant. The Warriors would be better served with a more athletic and more versatile 4 playing alongside Lee, or the same at center with Lee at 4.

    Then add to that the significant loss on offense with Bogut on the court, much discussed here.

  2. when and where did E.S. Strauss speak for a ‘woeyr fan consensus’ favoring replacing Lee with Speights ? strauss was assigned the espn commentary on the SA visit to oaktown and made it a feel-good human interest piece about all the good guys on the SA bench, the homecoming for Mills, und so weiter. not a word the lacobite media relations could consider critical of the home team.

  3. Jackson’s mismanagement of the bench has been horrific. I have no comprehension of why he doesn’t have the flexibility to insert guys like Douglas or Bazemore into the lineup for 6-minute stretches along with four starters. Why do it this way? To mask their deficiencies while providing rest for Curry or Thompson. Jackson seems to think in terms of 1st and 2nd units, and do mass substitutions, which simply puts the reserves at a disadvantage.

    Additionally, his resoluteness in keeping Barnes as a starter while Iggy was out was hard to swallow because of how well Green played in a limited role. I wish the local media guys would question some of these things and at least try to get into the X’s and O’s of his playing time decisions.

    • Felt, Lee has always been an OK man/man defender. He just doesn’t do the “help D” thing well. Alongside another big – or Green – who does play help D, Lee holds his own. But help D an important piece of a good defense, and Lee does not provide it.

      Lee’s inability to play help D probably has more to do with his physical makeup than his skills or mentality, but it is still an element that a “defensive minded coach” like Jackson would point to as a reason to leave Lee at the 4. I wonder if Jackson ever even looks at the results of his occasional smallball units to see what you pointed out about its success, including its defensive success. Maybe not. He’s not a “stats guy.”

      Also, while wing D makes paint D better, it works the other way round, too. Strong paint D permits wing defenders to play tighter outside. In other words, playing a good paint defender next to Lee helps improve the overall D including Lee’s. But in any case, Lee is not anyone’s “last line of defense,” and since he’s a big, he’s never going to be widely viewed as a “good” defender without that element in his game. When you play Lee, you really do want a good defender next to him much of the time.

      On another topic, it seems that even Jackson sees that Barnes isn’t cutting it, if for no other reason than we’re not seeing Barnes get so many clearout iso’s. It hasn’t cut into Barnes’ PT much yet, but if the trend continues maybe we’ll see the balance of sub PT shift toward more Green and less Barnes.

      On the other hand, Green might not play many more minutes unless Bogut plays less. They rarely play together, possibly because both are perceived to have limited offense. Bogut/Green total 130 min. together this season, as opposed to Bogut/Barnes 435 minutes, or Bogut/DLee 693 min. “Weak scorer” is kind of a superficial take on Green’s offense, of course, but I’d expect nothing else from this coach. Green is shooting .381 from 3 – not bad (vs. Barnes .390), and he helps make the rest of the team better besides.

      • You keep harping on Lee’s help defense, and yet the Warriors team defensive stats with Lee playing with Iggy are out of this world.

        Bottom line, defense is not that important a quality in power forwards. Power forwards rebound, which is frequently incompatible with defense (one is conducted on the strong side, the other on the weak). That’s why Love, Rodman and Barkley are Hall of Famers. Not to mention Dirk, who dominated in other areas.

        Warriors fans’ obsession with Lee’s defense is misguided, in my opinion. Defenders are what you put around your power forward and point guard.

  4. Feltbot, once again you hit the nail right on the head. Thank you. It should be obvious how crisp the offense and defense operates with Bogut out of the way. I’ve watched Dlee since his knick days and he’s held his own at center against the very best of them. Why do you think shaq raves about him so often.
    This team will be much better with him at center and Bogut playing spot min against the Howards and Hibberts of the league. Anyway Merry Xmas.

  5. I’m headed out of town shortly so recapping will be sparse to nonexistent until after the New Year.

    Happy Holidays everyone!

  6. Joyeux noel, you all.

  7. Merry Christmas everyone. Ok, enough with the niceties.

    Is Barnes really this bad? I mean, he’s even worse than I give him credit for.

    Felty, you speculated a while back that he had turf toe. Seeing a quote from Jimmy Butler today that he has turf toe and it’s been bothering him all season and might for the rest of his career. I wonder if that’s what is going on with Barnes and the team (and Barnes himself) just don’t want to make it public. Not really a smart move, because if they eventually want to trade him, they will have to disclose it anyway. One would think.

    • Joe Lacob’s Warriors have a history of non-disclosure regarding injuries. They went to the grave spouting “”Biedrins looks great and is ready to go this year!” When they knew at the beginning he had chronic osteitis pubis. Then of course there was the Bogut micro fracture coverup. And now Barnes’ turf toe.

      You’re right of course that other teams around the league know what’s up. Which leaves only one explanation: Lacob wants the truth withheld from potential ticket buyers, and especially season ticket buyers.

      I’m on record about what that says about his character, and Bob Myers’ as well.

      But what disturbs me more than anything is the absolute complicity of the Warriors media in these coverups. They have been completely corrupted.

  8. The history of the candlestick park deal. Some here might find this interesting.


  9. BarnesBarnesBarnes..Nary a word about Klay? Turf Brain?

  10. FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

    You only here about Klay Thompson when he lights it up. Which as of late is not very often. Since Klay Thompson is Felty’s golden prodigy he refuses to say a bad thing about him. Here sure as hell will knit pick any little thing he can about Barnes though.

  11. from Sun Tzu, The Art of War:

    Thus what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.

    He who understands how to use both large and small forces will be victorious.

    Order or disorder depends on organization; courage or cowardice on circumstances; strength or weakness on dispositions.

    Thus, those skilled at making the enemy move do so by creating a situation to which he must conform; they entice him with something he is certain to take, and with lures of ostensible profit they await him in strength.

    Therefore a skilled commander seeks victory from the situation and does not demand it of his subordinates.

    He whose generals are able and not interfered with by the sovereign will be victorious.

    Now there are three ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army:

    (2) When ignorant of military affairs, to participate in their administration. This causes the officers to be perplexed.

    (3) When ignorant of command problems to share in the exercise of responsibilities. This engenders doubts in the minds of the officers.

    • Make this my pre-game jitters.

      • you can rest assured that lacob has studied Bing Fa, if for no other reason than to better understand his competitors. he seems though to be on a mission to prove he’s das Übermensch, able to see and act beyond conventional expectations.

        the conventional translation of Bing Fa is curious in itself, because it takes the literal and conventional meanings of the words to an aestheticized, almost metaphysical extreme. the prosaic meaning of ‘bing’ is nothing more than soldier(s), or military, or weapons. a simple rendering with no reference to Sun Zi’s masterwork, would be ‘military methods’.

  12. Sun Tzu would Crossmatch Bogut on Blake, Lee on Jordan, and guard CP with Iggy.

    And break his offense to get Klay Thompson some shots.

  13. Interesting article below. It says that old-school coaches (in this case football coaches) tend to call plays conservatively. But when you analyze real-world performance history, sometimes you come up with surprising results, leading to strategies very different from conventional wisdom.

    Real analytics applied to football:


    Notice the emphasis on “point differential.” Sounds like something Nellie came up with.

    • I recently read of a high school coach who never punts, regardless of situation, and is having good results.

      Football is one of the last bastions of having truly uneducated men making important calls in sports. The analytics guys on my twitter feed, many of whom are poker players, are all over this stuff.

      Poker players understand “expected points” extremely well, because when we analyze poker plays, its with something called “expected value.” We tend to shy away from analyzing the actual outcome of an individual play — we call that being “results oriented” — in favor of attempting to analyze what would happen if we made the same play 100,000 times. That’s where the truth lays. Computer simulations aid us in this analysis.

      In defense of football coaches, it could be argued that there is no “long run” in football. There are very few chances to get it right in a football game, or even in a season. And the choices they are making are those that tend to lower the variance in their expectations.

      Not to mention their jobs.

      One simple way to transfer this kind of analysis to basketball: the choice of going for offensive rebounds, or steals. Going for them might increase your “expected points” to a degree, but going for them and failing increases the other team’s expected points well above over the average (because of the ability to exploit an out of position defense).

      That’s what lays behind the decisions of teams like the Spurs to not crash the offensive boards.

      Another way is to analyze the expected points of an early offense three, against the expected points of running half court offense, with post play. The quick three used to be ridiculed. Post play was revered. Now, because of very simple analytics, the league is on the completely opposite course.

      • An article about that HS coach led me to the NYT machine.

        Expected Value Analysis is a long-standing planning tool in finance and business too. Naturally, it’s easiest to use – and most reliably accurate – when there’s good info available to assess risk. Like in a card game or ball game. In those situations, it’s kinda crazy not to do the simple math.

        All of which makes one wonder if anyone at Ws HQ looks at the numbers. If they did, wouldn’t they try to make every game a 3-point shootout?