Warriors 105 Clippers 103: Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Men

I don’t have time for a recap, but this Warriors — Clippers Christmas matchup was too great not to comment on. Apologies for those who follow me on Twitter, this is more of a recap of my timeline than the game itself.

Due to Green and Griffin getting ejected more than anything else, the Warriors for the first time this season went with a Lee at center, Barnes at power forward lineup in crunchtime. A lineup I have been arguing for all season long.

And that lineup brought it home.

Wasn’t it glorious? The Curry/Lee pick and roll, with a spread floor. Elegant. Efficient.

Unstoppable.

It should be noted that mid-crunch time, Jackson attempted to return Bogut to the game. The Clippers immediately went on a run to tie the game, because their smallball lineup spread the Warriors out and got unguarded shots, and the Warriors offense naturally bogged down with Bogut destroying all possibility of pick and roll.

To his credit, Mark Jackson recognized this, and immediately brought Barnes back in for Bogut to finish the game.

Progress?

Harrison Barnes: Invisible for most of the game. DOMINANT in the fourth quarter. What happened?

As simple as moving him from the three to the four.

And forcing the Clippers to try to guard him with their point guard.

Stephen Curry: Has it ever crossed Mark Jackson’s mind that when Curry is struggling against a defense determined to shut him down, he can immediately free him up and get him going with this lineup… earlier in the game?

Because Curry/Lee pick and roll with a spread floor is UNGUARDABLE.

Did you also see Jackson take Bogut off the court and run a Curry/Green pick and roll to end the second quarter? No blitz, Curry easily turned the corner, and fed Lee a dunk.

Maybe Jackson learned something from the blitz that ended the Spurs debacle.

David Lee: You probably think I’m going to rhapsodize about his offense, don’t you? Talk about his double-double streak? His double digit rebounding streak with Bogut?

Or perhaps recap the extended twitter discussion I had with Marcus Thompson over the reason Lee’s been getting his shot blocked so frequently this season, that caused me to miss most of the second quarter?

Nope.

I’m going to mention the gritty and effective post defense Lee played against Blake Griffin. Anybody else notice that?

I didn’t think so.

Klay Thompson: I have been asked by a few posters recently why I have refrained from going off on Klay for his poor performances of late, for which he’s been getting roasted on the other forums.

Those posters got their answer tonight.

The reason, quite simply, is that I know the difference between a bad player, and a GREAT player who’s struggling with his shot and a crap system.

Even with his poor shooting games as of late, Thompson is still among the top 5 shooting guards in the league in terms of overall efficiency. And tonight’s performance was at an allstar level.

Shooting, playmaking, defense (in an extraordinarily difficult and draining assignment), you saw Klay’s entire game on this night. Right down to that last, game-winning block of Chris Paul.

Wake up, Warriors fans. The third-year Klay Thompson is already one of the most elite players to have ever taken the floor in Oaktown.

Or anywhere else.

The idea that Draymond Green should start at power forward: Did you happen to notice what happened to Green when he attempted to guard Griffin in the box?

He got steamrolled flat.

There’s Sleepy Freud’s answer.

Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green: For the record, I loved what they did in this game. We have not had this kind of heart and edge on the Warriors since We Believe.

I don’t know if it was part of the game-plan to get under Blake Griffin’s skin, or if Green and Bogut were simply reacting to his bullying tactics. But it’s worth pointing out that both Griffin and the Clippers around him have a history of collapsing in the playoffs as soon as it’s made clear to him that he’s not the biggest bully on the court.

Loved it.

One question: Why not use Bogut on Blake Griffin to start the game?

This game didn’t need to be this close. Crossmatch Bogut and Lee on Griffin and Jordan. Get a little more Iggy on Chris Paul, once he’s healthy. Play a little more smallball.

And the Warriors own this matchup.

Happy Holidays everyone!

38 Responses to Warriors 105 Clippers 103: Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Men

  1. No question Harrison is better when being guarded by point guards. Is that a reliable strategy though?

    Not sure we can get the opposing starting PF ejected every game.

    • If Griffin hadn’t been ejected, the Clippers would have finished the game playing small with Griffin at center, and Jordan on the bench. That’s been Doc’s m.o. So Barnes gets that matchup regardless.

      But it’s also possible to FORCE teams to match up with you, rather than the other way round. Barnes also proved difficult to guard by conventional fours in the playoffs.

  2. Harrison Barnes played a very good second half of the game. And it wasn’t only against point guards. He scored on drives and jumpers. Evanz, you seem bitter about something . Did he steal your lunch money?

    Jackson almost blew this game both for the reasons Feltbot mentions above and for the crazy strategy from the 30 second left period till the end. Up 2, with the ball and 30 secs left, and we don’t get the ball into Curry’s hands? We let the 21 yr old determine our fate at the top of key? Then we get the rebound with 10 secs left, how about call a to to get the ball into Curry or Thomson’s hands since we know they will foul. Iguadala to the ft line, really?

    • You’re right, the end of the game decision-making was horrible.

      And Barnes did also play some productive minutes at four with Bogut at center. But pretty sure he was most successful against small guards. Matt Barnes tortured him.

    • Loving it! When Draymond Green got the tech – which was nice flop (neck whip) by Griffin, the camera focused on Griffin’s quick smirk once he learned Green was ousted from the game…

      Bad karma for the Clips.

      Andrew Bogut is the Master. Bogut drew an offensive foul on Blake, then got under his skin and initiated the jersey grab/double technical! Later the camera showed Bogut’s face – which yielded a proud, quick smirk on his face!

      David Lee called out Blake Griffin’s flopping in the past…

      And Griffin is now whining about receiving double technicals for nothing? Lol! The W’s own him now!

      Our Warriors are a better team than the Clippers. And I think Chris Paul knows this. If Coach Jackson can spread the floor more… And not play Lee and Bogut together so many minutes. And play more Barnes and Green minutes at PF, not at SF. Coach Jackson should get this by the playoffs. I hope.

      IMHO Barnes only does well against guards if he can back them down – back to the basket in the post/block, not off the dribble so much bc his handle is still weak. Against most PFs, off the dribble. All day. Barnes doesn’t even have to finish, just draw contact and get to the line. Iggy used to do this a lot in Philly, but has changed his game with age. 9 Barnes free throws? Sweet!

  3. “Barnes dominated the 4th quarter,” says Felty. Really. I guess if 1 for 7 for shooting in the fourth quarter is a dominant performance. I just didn’t realize that. And the only basket he made was with Bogut on the court at the beginning of the quarter. Also, remember his shot being blocked twice.

    If this game shows the Warriors should be playing Lee at center and Barnes at power forward, I fail to see it. But, hey, I thought Barnes shooting 1-7 in the fourth was bad, only to be told by Felty that Banres had a “dominant” fourth quarter. Maybe it was Lee and Barnes donimant defense in the 4th that was the difference. Not.

    Bogut is a punk. He should have been tossed, not Griffin. The national announcers said that Griffin should not have gotten a technical.

    • FeltbotsFakeGirlfriend

      Frank-

      Blake Griffin is the punk. His best offensive move is the flop.

      I see Mo Harkless is dominating in Orlando shooting 3/12 in his last 4 games.

  4. An ugly win, but I’ll take it. I’m not sure what was validated, however. If Crawford got going, or if they had Riddick, who scored 17 in the first blowout, it’s a different game, just as the Laker game would have been different had they knocked down some shots. And the Lakers gave Miami a good test—without Kaman.

    The Warriors have to play to their strengths, and their strengths lie in Curry and Klay. And the player they haven’t picked up yet. One of the announcers commented that Curry might be asked to do too much.

    Su Tzu:

    The skillful commander takes up a position in which he cannot be defeated and misses no opportunity to master his enemy.

    I did enjoy seeing Bogut banging on Blake, however. Maybe Bogut can do pickup truck ads.

  5. Frank is right, dominant is too strong a word for Barnes 4th Q performance. I hadn’t noticed he was 1-7, perhaps because his aggressiveness got him to the line 4 times, and his 9 pts matched Curry and Lee for 4th Q honors. How about “successful.” He was +8 for the quarter at PF.

    This gameflow tells the very interesting story of Mr. Barnes, the NBA player:

    http://popcornmachine.net/cgi-bin/gameflow.cgi?date=20131225&game=LACGSW

    -10 when being played at SF, +8 at PF.

    • If Draymond wasn’t ejected, I’d still rather have him in the game in the 4th. The only time Barnes looks halfway decent is when he’s being guarded by point guards, and you simply can’t count on that happening very often.

      • I don’t disagree, and neither, apparently, does Mark Jackson.

        • With Curry, Klay, and Iggy – Barnes nearly always draws the opponent’s worst perimeter defender. And I love this match up in a spread floor. Barnes can dominate offensively in stretches.

          I like Barnes paired with Bogut. I like Lee at C paired with Green at PF. Just getting in one good defender.

          With Lee in the game, I’d like the team to run the pick and roll every single play with Curry/whoever else – Nellie said as much to justify Lee’s questionable defense. Lee needs a spread floor offensively to dominate so he should not be paired with Bogut so many minutes. This is why I’d like Lee to come off the bench – to light up a second unit.

          The starting unit without Lee should still score plenty.

  6. We need to talk more about the first quarter and how Jackson goes to “garbage squad” against the Clippers for so many minutes. Can someone explain how you can put in your 6-10 guys against the Clippers on Christmas? Was he trying to send a message to the starters? Just seemed insane to me.

    • I’ve thought long and hard about what Don Nelson would do to solve the Warriors’ first quarter issues. Quite obviously, the issue is horrible spacing. Lee pick and roll is out, because Bogut’s man stands waiting under the basket. Bogut has no offense of his own — can’t finish PNR, bad low post, can’t play high post because his shots not a threat. The ability of Bogut’s man to play free safety in the lane allows the wing defenders to overplay the three point line. (Doc Rivers noted after last night’s first Q that the Clippers “ran the Warriors off the three point line.”)

      The most obvious solution is to minimize the time that Bogut and Lee play together. Bogut has to be a starter — his chief value is bodying up to the big boys on the front line. But I’m not sure you want to bring Lee off the bench — his size against starting PFs is also useful. Green and Barnes are too small to take that punishment.

      What you could do, though, is take Lee out after 6-7 minutes, subbing a stretch-four. Probably Barnes, he works well with Bogut on both sides of the ball. Then bring Lee back to play center for the second unit, with Green at stretch-four, when you take Bogut out. Sliding Barnes to SF. I think this could be very successful.

      As for minutes when Bogut and Lee play together, one thing I’m almost certain Nellie would try is placing Lee in the corner, and letting him shoot the short 3. This would allow Bogut/Curry PNR with an open floor, and might get Bogut some dunks.

      And perhaps more importantly, it opens the floor for Thompson and Iggy to drive.

      I’m also completely perplexed by Jackson stationing Bogut down low when Lee plays PNR. You have to have him stationed high, with the hopes of dragging his man a couple of feet from the basket, don’t you?

      Either that, or Lee has to look to the pocket pass to Bogut more, when his drive causes the rotation.

      But here’s perhaps the most obvious way to overcome Bogut’s spacing issues: Leave him behind! Push the tempo hard. Get out and run. Get the shot up before Bogut can cross half court.

      Run not just after steals, but after every rebound, and even after made baskets. Beat the opposing center down court!

      I’m damn sure neither Nellie, nor Pop, Karl, Spoelstra, D’Antoni, Hornacek, nor Brett Brown would have this superlative open court team playing at the leisurely pace Mark Jackson has established.

      As for the general bench issue, I’m also perplexed, given their obvious weaknesses, that Jackson is subbing them en masse. They are just not good enough to play as a unit, are they?

      But there are some decent role players, who if played in mixed units with some starters, might raise the level of their game.

      Jackson has done a terrible job to date with his offensive scheme and rotations, imo. There is a lot he can do better.

      • Start Lee and Speights. I don’t know about the 3s, but both have an outside shot, mobility, and the ability to drive that would open up the court. The guards would have another option to pass to, in fact you’d have 5 scorers on the floor. This would work better if Speights got consistent minutes to get into an offensive rhythm. And it would certainly work against a team like Miami (see the Laker game).

        I’m not sure how much they’d give up defensively. And besides, there just aren’t that many bigs who are scoring threats.

        Then build a second unit around Bogut, Barnes, Green, Douglas, plus Klay, Curry, or Iguodala, whatever spells their minutes. This would be a good defensive unit, or should be. It would be a slow-paced unit, but that would be good for burning minutes and holding a lead, given their low scoring. And it might open up possibilities for Douglas and Barnes, both of whom need to be brought out in favorable situations.

        • Starting Speights would probably open up the floor. The problem is, he’s an average NBA defender and I doubt he can handle 30 to 35 minutes per night battling centers on a regular basis. Lacob’s gooey fingerprints (and his love for big centers) are all over the problems the Warriors are having.

          • The goal is to maximize the potential of the roster over the course of a 48 minute game, and do so in such a way that you get more points than your opponent. And if the Warriors got off to better starts and better first halves, they would have many more options for the rest of the game rather than making the starters play heavy minutes. There would be ample time to rest Speights.

            The center has a limited role with limited range, especially the way Bogut plays it, and Lee could coach Speights on the floor. Speights would also be more mobile (and clumsy—he’ll rack up fouls, but he’ll get better). Boards Speights gives up could be picked up by Lee and the others. Whatever defensive loss there was would easily be offset on offense.

            Bogut does have some passing skills, which the starters don’t need. He could look for Barnes and Douglas. He’d have a much easier time dominating with the second unit, thus would get more put backs. And he should find it easier to get open for dunks.

            Of course Lacob wouldn’t go for it.

      • Re Nellie’s offensive strategy with this squad, I suspect he’d go for “all of the above” at various times.

        Trying to get up shots before Bogut’s arrival would cost essentially nothing, since his presence often dictates a 4-0n-5 attack anyway.

        Parking Lee in the corner would be a classic Nellie move, especially if Lee’s longer shot returns.

        Running PnRs with Lee and Bogut (a variation of the “pocket pass” you mentioned), could be a way to capitalize on the pair’s unique playmaking advantages over most opponents at their positions. It’s an edge; Nellie would at least try to exploit it.

        The single thing Nellie would not do is stand pat and let opponents dictate the terms of the contest. The Ws have enough talent to sneak out some wins that way, but nowhere near as many wins, or as easy wins, as they could rack up with more creative offensive plans.

        Doc was right. His team denied Curry and Thompson their 3-pt shots (5-16, .312 combined). An offense designed around getting them open 3-pt looks would yield 10-15 3-point attempts from each. Pitiful.

        I was glad to see the Ws players refuse to be bullied last night. Now if their coach would also refuse to be dominated by his opponent, this team would be really special.

      • Bogut has no offense of his own — can’t finish PNR, bad low post, can’t play high post because his shots not a threat.

        Actually, according to Synergy he’s been fairly efficient on pick and roll.

        • Really? Does that account for the times that Curry gets the crap blitzed out of him, and turns the ball over? What about the times Curry doesn’t turn it over, but is forced into a bad shot or simply dribbles in circles until the double team disappears?

          Does it account for the times Bogut receives the pass, then waits for Curry to come back for a handoff and reset?

          My eyes tell me something different. Like that Bogut doesn’t even attempt to finish a PNR more than once a game.

          • Bogut has finished 33 PNR, so it’s just a bit more than once per game. FWIW.

          • I’m guessing that total is significantly enhanced by Klay’s pindown curls, when he chooses to pass to the rolling screener.

            I have not personally witnessed Bogut finishing many high screen and rolls with Curry, have you? It’s too far a distance for him to travel. And he’s deathly afraid of getting fouled in the act of shooting.

            If he could actually finish a high pick and roll, don’t you think we’d see it more often? All the time, in fact, given that Curry is so frequently blitzed.

            This is one case where Synergy stats don’t tell anything near to the real story.

  7. the sterlings might fit the role as an LA rival with the bussies scuffling, but the woeyrs are hardly the only team from whom they’ve provoked extra portions of animus. Hou should provide at least as good a challenge, and last season’s pre-howard version enjoyed some dominating wins. they went after SA’s pick and roll defense quite successfully last night, and what jackson has bogut and lee doing defensively this season is basically the same as SA. howard has revived his game and has started to mesh with his new ‘mates. will the preacher understand that against some teams, the best defense is to unleash the offense — Hou has the familiar weaknesses of defending the perimeter and transition d.

    • Houston’s combination of size and pace was impossible for the Spurs to deal with last night. Very impressive. Two teams that are both built and coached the right way, that the Warriors will be looking up at if Jackson doesn’t get his act together.

  8. “After a league review of the Clippers-Warriors game, we have come to the conclusion that Blake Griffin should not have been ejected from the game,” NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said in a statement Thursday. “A common foul should have been called on Griffin for initially attempting to dislodge the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut and a technical foul should have been assessed to Bogut for grabbing Griffin by the shirt and wrestling with him.”

    • The league’s description of the event doesn’t account for Griffin’s arm around Bogut’s back, or for him trapping Bogut’s arm.

      The league statement also doesn’t mention Griffin taunting Green after Green was hit with a T.

      It seems that the league is willing to misrepresent the facts to protect Baby-Face Griffin’s marketing sponsorships. How sad.

      • The “Coward” baited the whiner flopper – and Griffin took the bait… Just as Draymond Green took Griffin’s bait. Agree this was all about protecting marketability. And in fairness, Chris Paul gets nearly every call and rarely gets a technical IMHO. Can’t wait for the rematch!

    • The point is these should have been common fouls for both, and I disagree with the technical on Bogut. Let the refs manage the game this way, by calling fouls more closely and letting both be influenced by the risk of fouling out.

      My regret is that we won with Griffin out. Better to do it the other way, with a balanced attack, as Portland did last night.

      I didn’t see what provoked it, but Green’s elbow was just dumb. There’s no way the refs will let that go.

      • Agree that Green’s elbow was dumb, but in a situation like that Griffin is supposed to walk away and let the refs handle things. Instead, he followed Green downcourt yakking at him. That’s why Griffin got his first T.

        Also agree that both of Griffin’s Ts were not mandatory. Technically, the refs could have ignored Griffin’s yakking at Green, and called simple fouls on the incident with Bogut.

        On the other hand, the refs were onsite and Rod Thorn was not. They were in position to sense the degree of animosity on the court, and were (I think understandably) concerned about the game getting out of hand. In their judgment, they needed to take special measures to suppress the potential for violence. Chris Paul’s after-game run at Bogut (trying to yank the ball from Bogut’s hands), was evidence that the refs’ concerns were valid.

  9. Barnes game has nose-dived over the course of the season. Through December 15th, the Warriors were outscored with Barnes on the court. At that time he was a minus 3. With Barnes off the court the Warriors were a plus 11.In the last five games the Warriors have only outscored their opponents once with Barnes on the court and that was against the Lakers who were in a world of hurt. In the Clippers game, the Warriors were a minus 1 with Barnes on the court.

    The Warriors with D. Green have outscored their opponents by a plus 7 and have a slight minus with Green off the court. D. Green is much better than Barnes. Jackson doesn’t seem to realize this or has orders to play Barnes over D. Green.

    Barnes value is dropping like a rock. Get rid of him before it’s too late.

    • Barnes has not shown that he can consistently impact a game. The Warriors seem to think/hope all this playing time he has been gifted will help him develop as a player. He is only a second year player, after all.

      I am not defending him. He is the wrong fit for this Warriors team, especially if they continue to play him at the 2 and 3. He is serviceable at the stretch four at this point.

      A big issue is that Barnes game is not enhanced by Curry’s wizardry. Barnes slow reactions and ball-stopping kill the pace of the offense that Curry works hard for. He doesn’t have the BBall IQ to make plays when they need to be made (like garnering extra possessions, Frank) and doesn’t put himself in position to make these plays, either. Barnes is rarely, if ever ready to catch and shoot when the ball rotates to him. That is a problem.

    • Barnes and Green have both been shooting terribly lately. In the last 5 games, Barnes has shot .270 and Green .240. Barnes’ 3-point shooting has been somewhat better than Green’s, and his FT % has been far better. But you’re right, Frank, neither is a guy we want shooting when they’re on the floor with starters. They’re the guys who opponents want to have shooting.

      Which was why I was disappointed by the Ws play at the end of the Clips game. A professional-quality offensive scheme would have gotten the ball in better shooters’ hands. On the Ws, Barnes got a handful of attempts at a time when he shouldn’t even have touched the ball.

      It worked out. To his credit, Barnes sank his FTs. But the Ws let the Clips dictate who shot in crunchtime. That fact alone shows how weak the Ws’ team offensive game is.

      So I’m not down on Barnes, or Green, or Thompson. Even Curry’s recent shooting has been far below his career averages. They’re all suffering from playing in a weak offensive system.

  10. Tribute to the Christmas uniforms:

  11. Westbrook is getting scoped again and out til after Allstar game. No surprise there. I regarded his early return as borderline insane.

    Will the Thunder continue to overachieve in his absence? I have no idea how they’re doing it.

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