Revenge played a big part in this turnaround Warriors effort against the Suns. Home cooking certainly played a role.
And Mark Jackson deserves a lot of credit. He committed to running Channing Frye off the three point line. He had the Warriors offense spacing the floor much better, and executing far more crisply. And running the ball back at the Suns. Great tempo in this game.
But I think the biggest difference between this game and the game in Phoenix was the ability to put Andre Iguodala on Eric Bledsoe. Iggy is still nothing like himself, one glance at the box score will tell you that. But Bledsoe was nothing like himself either with Iggy guarding him, and that’s all she wrote.
Games like this get me thinking like I was thinking to start the season.
Thinking that the Warriors have the best starting five in the NBA.
Stephen Curry: The difference between Stephen Curry and Chris Paul?
Chris Paul is an extraordinary point guard, who has also been extraordinarily lucky in always being able to play with the most athletic pick and roll finishers in the league. Tyson Chandler, (young) David West, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin.
Stephen Curry is a superstar.
David Lee: The Curry/Lee pick and roll with Lee at center, and a spread floor (Bogut off the court), didn’t begin until 4:55 3rd Q, with Lee beating Fry for a wide open layup. I’ve pointed out to Marcus Thompson and Adam Lauridsen and a host of others, that Lee NEVER gets his pick and roll layups blocked by his own man. When he gets them blocked, it’s by Bogut’s man, camped in the lane and waiting. When Bogut is on the bench, and the floor is spread, the Curry/Lee pick and roll is…
The Suns attempted to guard it on the next possession, at 4:04 3rd Q, but Lee stopped short and found Draymond Green under the basket for his fifth assist.
Unguardable. Because David Lee is not only one of the best finishers in the league, leading the NBA in points in the paint, but also one of the best passing big men in the NBA.
But I don’t want to dwell on Lee’s offense. Warriors fans don’t give a fig that they have one of the best offensive big men in league history.
Did you happen to notice his defence on Channing Frye out at the three point line? In this game, Lee conceded the drive, relying on Bogut in the middle, to focus on running Frye off the three point line. The result? Frye 3-9, 1-5 from three.
Anyone else notice that?
I didn’t think so.
One last point: this change in Lee’s defense had nothing to do with Lee. It had to do with a change in the GAMEPLAN.
Andrew Bogut: His rebounding streak ended, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him look better in a Warriors uniform. He played at an extremely elite level.
It’s always hard to evaluate defensive performances like this, because the addition of Iggy to the Warriors lineup meant that the Suns were just that much slower in their rim attacks, and ability to fast break. But Bogut was special on this night.
On offense, it looks like Jackson made some progress. When Lee was involved, Bogut was up high, drawing his man away from the rim. When Bogut was low, Lee was high.
There is simply no excuse for the spacing issues that have plagued the Warriors in the first and third quarters this season. There are answers, some of which I listed in the last thread (comment 7). Jackson found some other answers in this game.
Klay Thompson: 21 points on 9-11 shooting. That sound you hear is Warriors fans sheathing their knives. And Ethan Strauss hitting the delete button on his piece stating that “the majority of Warriors fans want Klay Thompson traded.”
The problem on this night was on the defensive end. I’m pretty sure that Mark Jackson — who recently stated that Klay is an elite defensive player — doesn’t understand the difference between using Klay to guard small point guards, and using him to guard small shooting guards.
He’s very effective defensively in the paint, using his length to disrupt pick and roll and mid-range jump shots. But he is absolutely helpless trying to guard quick shooting guards out on the perimeter. As we’ve seen with Bledsoe and Redick and others.
Jackson fed Klay early foul trouble in this game by starting him on Bledsoe. It’s possible that he was trying to protect Iggy for as long as possible. But I’m not convinced of that.
I stated before this season that Iggy was the guard, and Klay Thompson was the small forward. That’s not always the correct matchup. Sometimes Curry can guard the small forward, sometimes Iggy is best there. But this game illustrates my point.
Another data point: the iso Thompson got against PJ Tucker at 6:20 1Q.
Small forwards can’t get into Klay’s dribble.
Iggy: Not even close to healthy. Or is it just that he’s not even close to in shape?
Nevertheless, the game changed when he started guarding Bledsoe. He guarded one of the most athletic and explosive guards in the NBA this season strictly on length and IQ.
Harrison Barnes: Zero rebounds in 31 minutes.
Zero rebounds in 31 minutes.
Zero rebounds in 31 minutes.
There were some available. Phoenix’s small forward PJ Tucker, whom Barnes was frequently matched up with, stands 6-6″. He got 12 rebounds in this game.
Harrison Barnes, zero rebounds in 31 minutes. PJ Tucker, 12 rebounds in 28 minutes.
Are you feeling me yet? Are you starting to get why I have been so hard on Harrison Barnes from the very first moment I saw him play?
This doesn’t have to do with youth. This doesn’t have to do with experience. It has to do with HEART.
When Harrison Barnes came into the league, I strongly suspected that he didn’t understand what was required to be a successful small forward in the NBA. And I strongly suspected that he cared 10 times more about his brand then he did about doing the small things that add up to wins in the NBA.
Barnes has done nothing, not last year, not this year, to make me think differently.
Draymond Green: Everything that Harrison Barnes is not. The quintessential “3 and D” player. A gritty, in your face, winner.
With the potential to be more. In this game, we saw him put the ball on the floor and unleash some assaults on the rim. As well as continue to expand his playmaking.
I don’t mind when Green delivers elbows to Blake Griffins’ throat. I really don’t. In fact, I loved it.
And I think the Warriors vets should step up and pay his fine.
Fanboys, close your eyes for a second. Take some deep breaths. Find your happy place.
Now try to imagine Harrison Barnes delivering that blow.