“We’re right there.” — Stephen Curry
I don’t buy the media narrative that the Indiana Pacers are on another level than the Golden State Warriors. While other writers saw nothing but how far away the Warriors are from the 33-7 Pacers, what I noticed was just how close the Warriors are to beating this team with a stick.
In my mind, the Warriors are merely two players away.
Andre Iguodala and Jordan Crawford.
Iggy: The biggest factor that I saw in this loss was Iggy’s inability to impact the game on either end of the floor. This is not even close to the same player we saw at the beginning of the season, nor the player for whom the Warriors paid $48 million for four years. If the Warriors are going to play at a championship level, then Iggy has to play at a championship level. He’s a long way from that right now.
I’m not sure whether his lingering hamstring injury is affecting his shot. I fully expected significant regression in his shooting this season anyway. His extraordinary shooting to begin the year was unsustainable, no matter how great the effect of playing along side Curry and Thompson.
But it is definitely affecting all the other areas of his play, which the Warriors so desperately need. Particularly on defense. In this game, Paul George literally got whatever he wanted in the first half. Prompting Mark Jackson to begin using Klay on him in the second half.
It’s also apparently affecting his rebounding. Iggy is usually quite a good rebounder, but didn’t show up on the boards in this game where wing rebounding was desperately needed. I witnessed one play in the second half in particular, in which Iggy allowed Lance Stephenson to waltz in for an offensive rebound. Stephenson beasted the offensive boards for 4 rebounds.
Klay Thompson was equally culpable in this regard. Iggy totaled 2 rebounds for the game. Klay bageled. While Lance Stephenson totaled 10. This should be an obvious area of focus the next time these two teams meet.
Iggy’s hamstring issue has also hamstrung the Warriors’ offense in ways unrelated to his shooting. Do you remember to start the season how often Mark Jackson put the ball in Iggy’s hands, and asked him to run the offense? How skilled he was at driving the lane and finding Curry and Thompson open? How helpful he was in allowing Curry to get some rest off the ball?
That’s gone now. Jackson is barely putting the ball in his hands at all. The only possible explanation is that the Warriors don’t feel Iggy’s hamstring can handle the load.
One is beginning to wonder whether Iggy will be healthy again this season. Is this an injury that can heal itself while being played on? It’s nice that the Warriors are getting a break in the schedule, but perhaps they should contemplate shutting him down again for a longer time. No matter what that does to the Warriors’ seeding. If he’s not ready come playoff time, the Warriors are toast.
Jordan Crawford: Did the Warriors trade for Crawford so that he could play 13 minutes a game?
Did they trade for Crawford to feed Harrison Barnes in the low post?
What a ridiculous waste of his talents. Spread the floor with Curry or Thompson, Barnes and Green. Run high pick and roll with Crawford and Speights. And watch the buckets rain from the sky.
It is really that simple. With Crawford leading the second unit, there is simply no reason why it can’t be one of the highest scoring in the league.
If Mark Jackson can get himself out of the way. I understand that Crawford has just joined the team, and that the Warriors have had no practice time, and Jackson wants to get him up to speed, and…
Nonsense. All players of Crawford’s caliber know how to run high pick and roll. He knows how to find open shooters. He knows how to get his own shot.
Tom Thibodeau got D.J. Augustin up and running in no time. Mike D’Antoni got Kendall Marshall up and running in no time. Don Nelson had no problem putting the ball in the hands of D-Leaguers playing their first NBA game — when he needed their production.
The Warriors need Mark Jackson to relax and take his hands off the reins. They are desperate for what Jordan Crawford can do for them. And what he can do for them is TAKE OVER GAMES. Like Nate Robinson. And Jarrett Jack.
What’s the holdup?
Klay Thompson: Klay kept the Warriors in this game with his three point shooting. He’s a guy who will be much more successful than Chris Mullin at getting his shot off in the playoffs. He’s got the length, but the way he comes off those screens, turns and fires is simply incredible. He and Curry have the quickest releases in the league.
I was also extremely impressed by his defense on Paul George. Cementing my conviction that he’s a natural small forward.
But he needed to hit the boards in this game. He’s a very good rebounder when it’s needed.
Against the Pacers, it’s needed.
David Lee: During the game, a few Warriors media members were oohing and ahhing on twitter over David West’s game.
David Lee 20 and 12. David West 17 and 5.
I really wonder what it is that makes Lee’s game so incomprehensible to the Warriors media. It’s simply amazing.
Lee was by far the quickest big man on the floor last night, and he used that quickness to great effect in getting to the rim. He also beat the Pacers down the floor for layups on at least two occasions. He’s one of the best running big men in the game, who has gotten to show that talent all too infrequently playing for Lacob’s Warriors.
Unfortunately, Lee uncharacteristically missed a couple of wide-open bunnies, and four free throws, or this game may have turned out differently.
A word on Lee’s defense: Did any one of the great players he was guarding get to the rim last night? He forced David West to either set up outside, or shoot tough fading jump-hooks. He DESTROYED Luis Scola.
And as for Roy Hibbert, Lee forced him into jumphooks as well. Which Hibbert made look easy. Are they easy for him, though? He’s only shooting .465 from the field.
As Mark Jackson says, it’s a make or miss league.
Bogut: This is the kind of matchup that the Warriors signed Bogut for. And after an excruciatingly slow start in which he was beaten numerous times inside and on the boards, he showed up and went toe-to-toe with Hibbert.
I don’t blame him or Lee for the rebounding disparity. On this night, that was on Iggy and Thompson.
Barnes: Something possessed Barnes to compete for a few rebounds last night. I wonder what?
Green: I come down on the side of those who don’t feel this performance was adequate. He was a Warriors’ worst -12 in this game, nosing out Barnes (-10). (Everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Mo Speights was +1.) And while I think Mark Jackson’s second unit offense was significantly to blame, I think Green deserves blame as well.
His effort on defense and rebounding was quite good as usual, but the Warriors need much more from Green on the offensive end. Particularly in games in which he’s giving up significant size.
And I’m not talking about missing outside shots, which happens. When Green puts the ball on the floor, he needs to start making something good happen. Far too often he has resorted to flinging up wild prayers. He needs to find shots that he can actually finish, or pass the ball back out.
As I wrote one time about Coby Karl, when Green drives the lane he looks like the Bug in Men in Black, chasing the cat.
There was progress in one area. He missed one of his two free throws, but this time missed it short. Way short. But still, progress in concept, if not in outcome.
Next step, get it on top of the rim.
The Pacers: Most people believe the Pacers defense starts with Roy Hibbert in the middle. I disagree. I think it’s starts with Paul George and Lance Stephenson, two of the best wing defenders in the league. And George Hill, one of the best point guard defenders in the league. As a unit, they not only run opponents off the three point line, but are good enough to funnel and control penetration at the same time.
If you airlifted Roy Hibbert off of the Pacers, and planted him, say, on the Houston Rocket’s in Dwight Howard’s place, he would look like a different player. He would look a lot like Andrew Bogut recently did against the Nuggets, in point of fact. Small guards would run circles around him.
The best way to beat the Pacers? Cut off the head of the snake. By which I mean, take their primary distributors, George Hill and Lance Stephenson completely out of the game. That’s what the Heat did in their last victory over the Pacers. Chalmers and Cole destroyed the mediocre Hill. LeBron destroyed Stephenson. And the Pacers’ ball movement collapsed, making them unable to run their offense.
The Warriors don’t have the defenders to execute this game plan. Not with Curry on the floor. The Heat were able to shift Wade onto George, but Curry can’t guard either of the Pacers’ wings, as we saw last night. The Warriors need to beat the Pacers a different way.
Mark Jackson: After the game, Jackson found positives in the Warriors’ performance, and said: “When we begin to take care of the little things, it’s going to be scary how good we can be.”
I agree, Mark Jackson.
Starting with you.
Jackson needs to do more to get this Warriors team running. Curry, Thompson, Lee, Iggy, Barnes, and Crawford all excel in the open court. No matter how badly Jackson wants to hang his coat-tails on the defensive end, if he doesn’t realize that this team’s biggest edge is on offense, and in particular in pushing the tempo on offense, then the Warriors will never reach their true potential.
The Warriors are currently 12th in the league in fast break points.
That is absolutely shameful, for a team built like this. That is “unclear on the concept.”
I’m curious, has Mark Jackson ever heard of running after a made basket?
It’s surprisingly effective, against the Roy Hibberts of the league.