The story of this Warriors — Clippers game is that Crawford, Barnes and Green badly outplayed Crawford, Barnes and Green. Check the boxscore if you don’t believe me.
Actually, the real story of this game is that Mark Jackson, for the first time this season, got the matchups right. I’m talking, of course, about the frontcourt crossmatch he served up, putting Andrew Bogut on Blake Griffin, and David Lee on DeAndre Jordan.
The reasons should be quite obvious, from watching this game. Blake Griffin has a wretched low post game. His bread and butter is bullying smaller opponents, and getting free for alley oops. If you put a much bigger center on him, he literally has no inside game. And that makes him quit. I saw Darko Milicic do it to him, for the great Rick Adelman. The rookie Festus Ezeli did it to him last season. And in this game, we got to see a healthy Andrew Bogut do it to him.
After a few humiliating attempts to take Bogut inside, Griffin gave up and began launching from outside. And quite uncharacteristically, he couldn’t miss in the first half. It didn’t matter. It is a major victory to reduce Blake Griffin to shooting long twos, and they won’t often fall like this. If this is how it comes down in the playoffs, it will be Sayonara, Clips.
A few other victories this cross-match produced: 1) Other than on a fast break, no alley-oops for Griffin. Since Bogut never leaves the lane to guard pick and roll, they’re never open. 2) 3 rebounds for Griffin, 1 offensive. He was always outside, wasn’t he? And like all natural born bullies, he’s a quitter. 3) Zero alley-oops for DeAndre Jordan, which is virtually his entire offense. The smart and mobile David Lee has very little trouble keeping him on his back. 4) Saved David Lee’s fouls and kept him fresh to match up with Griffin in the second half.
I predicted before the season that the Warriors would OWN this matchup for these very reasons. We’re now up 2-1 on the season.
I’m probably alone in the world right now in believing that the Warriors will pass the Clippers in the standings, and will be favored if and when they meet in the playoffs.
But if they’re not favored…
It will be a gift from the gods, and I’ll tell you right now that feltbot will be backing up the truck.
Andrew Bogut: This was Bogut’s game. Blake Griffin wasn’t too big, like Boogie or Big Pek. He wasn’t too small, like Ibaka or Hickson. He was juuuust right.
And ran from Bogues like a little girl.
Bogut also made his presence felt on the offensive end. Jackson largely kept him away from Curry and the pick and roll (hallelujah), but when he did set that high pick he moved his big butt down the lane. The way he must, regardless of result (he missed).
Very active on the offensive glass, scoring several tip-ins. Highly effective screener.
Stephen Curry: Steve Kerr and Reggie Miller ridiculed the Warriors fans’ MVP chants when Curry stepped to the line. Really?
Earlier in the game, Kerr raved about how much Curry’s game reminded him of Steve Nash’s. Didn’t Steve Nash win an MVP? Or was it two?
Curry is currently the second best player in fantasy basketball. Something nearly every one of those chanting Warriors fans know, and Kerr and Miller probably don’t. Not real life, of course. But not exactly bullshit, either. That kind of all-around statistical excellence doesn’t come around every day, and usually precedes recognition of true greatness for unorthodox players not blessed with athleticism or jumping ability.
LeBron, Durant, Curry. If I’m starting a basketball team from scratch, that’s my order.
I wonder what Kerr and Miller will be saying about those chants when the Warriors meet the Heat in the Finals?
David Lee: “Blake Griffin puts 27 points on David Lee!” If past is prologue to the future, that’s the headline we’ll get from Adam Lauridson, Ethan Strauss, Danny Leroux and @unstoppablebaby.
Those of us who actually watch the games, though, know that Griffin got most of his points hoisting from outside against Bogut.
And we also know that David Lee pitched a shutout against Griffin in the second half, once Bogut’s foul trouble ended the crossmatch. Bodied him up, absorbed vicious blow after vicious blow from a player who loves to bully smaller opponents. Held his ground. Forced horrible off balance jump hooks.
In the past four games, David Lee has faced the cream of the crop of Western Conference power forwards. 3 All-Stars, Love, Aldridge and Griffin. While playing through a left shoulder sprain so severe it required pre-game pain-killing injections.
He put a 7-18 on Love. A 2-14 on Aldridge. And in this game, virtually bageled Blake Griffin in the second half.
There are two power forwards on the Eastern Conference All-Star team, Chris Bosh and Paul Millsap. Lee put a 6-16 on Bosh, in Miami. And a 3-14 on Paul Millsap, in Atlanta.
Keep propagating your absurd meme that David Lee can’t play defense, all you haters in the Warriors media. Keep publishing your snake oil masquerading as science, Kirk Goldsberry and assorted statphreaks.
There was only one NBA writer in existence — one — who insisted to you before the season started that the additions of Andre Iguodala and a healthy Andrew Bogut would “miraculously” improve David Lee’s defense.
Just like there’s one only NBA writer right now who’s telling you that a real All-Star is staying home this season.
A player who on the other side of the ball put up a smooth 22 points on 10-15, with 4 assists, tonight. A player who happens to be one of the most gifted offensive power forwards to ever play the game. A player whom Shaq calls “unguardable.”
Eh, who am I kidding? I’ve been told by a reputable authority that “a majority of Warriors fans” would rather watch Harrison Barnes get eaten alive by Blake Griffin than watch a Hall of Famer go to war, 81 games a year, 38 minutes a game, home or away, come rain or long needles.
Jordan Crawford: All of a sudden, the Warriors have one of the better bench units in the entire league. As I believe I predicted.
It is amazing what having a real NBA playmaker can do for a bench unit, isn’t it?
He couldn’t get his shot tonight, except for one dagger three. But how about 5 assists in 18 minutes? Pushing the ball on the fast break, high pick and roll, drive and dish.
Steezus have it all.
To a man, the TNT crew seemed amazed that Crawford was willing to create for others. Didn’t they watch him play point guard for the Celtics this year?
I guess that’s what feltbot is for.
Monsieur Barnes: Even though his 3-ball is still not falling, quite good in the flow of the offense. A dunk on a backdoor cut. Quick drives from the three point line when the ball was rotated to him. Allowing that plus finishing ability to blossom.
Still absolutely wretched on low post isos. When in the world will Mark Jackson give up on this ridiculous idea? Barnes is not Kobe, he’s not Melo — and this is inefficient offense even for them. Barnes’ handle is poor, his footwork is poor, and his midrange touch is beyond poor. Why, Mark Jackson? Why? He is so much better in the flow of the offense. As is the team.
One good moment out of low post iso: Barnes hit the cutter when doubled. That’s a major improvement over last year.
On the defensive side of the ball, his fourth plus performance in a row since I compared him to the French. His length bothered both Redick and Crawford (as did Klay Thompson’s).
8 rebounds, 5 tracking down long offensive boards. Why can’t he do that on a consistent basis?
Oui oui, monsieur.
Iggy: As far as I’m concerned, Iggy’s not playing well enough to hotdog.
Mark Jackson hid him on Matt Barnes and Jared Dudley in this game, when you’d think the Warriors would be better served by having him chase J.J. Redick.
Steve Kerr noted during the game that Iggy was “playing centerfield off of Matt Barnes”, lurking in the passing lanes.
I’d prefer to think that was Jackson’s reason, but there may have been another.
Mo Speights: Blood is dripping all over the Bay Area, from bitten tongues.
There was only one NBA writer in existence — one — who was highly pleased by the Speights signing in the offseason. One.
One — who has been insisting that he is a highly talented player throughout his struggles this season. One — who told you he is a center, not a power forward. One — who told you he was out of shape to start the season, confirmed by Fitz in the last game. One — who told you his struggles were being compounded by being played out of position by Mark Jackson. One — who told you his struggles were being compounded by having to play without a point guard. One — who told you he’s one of the best big man shooters in the NBA, and that his shooting percentage would come back.
Now, I know as well as anyone that Mo Speights has his problems and limitations. You will very rarely, if ever, get anything resembling a perfect game from him. OF COURSE. He’s a bench player! A legit 6-10″ 255 lb. player with his athleticism and shooting ability, if he were the genius that Warriors fans want him to be, he’d be a freakin’ starter in this league, wouldn’t he? Anyone out there get that?
One of the more egregious Warriors media members snarked on twitter after Speights missed the second of his three point attempts, and I didn’t bite my tongue in responding.
Can you possibly imagine what would happen to the Warriors second unit if Mark Jackson allowed Speights to park himself in the corner for short threes? If Crawford could run high pick and roll with Green or Barnes, with a wide open floor, and Curry or Thompson spotted up?
Can you imagine?
I know Danny Leroux can’t imagine that.
But my readers can.