We got a look at the Shadow Warriors in this victory over the Bulls. By which I mean the seldom-seen lineup combinations within this Warriors roster, the true full squad within the #fullsquad, that GM Joe Lacob, Spokesmodel Bob Myers, and interim coach Mark Jackson would strongly prefer to keep hidden from view.
I’m referring of course to the one big + four smalls, and even five smalls units that worked to perfection last night in blowing out a bigger, rougher and tougher Chicago Bulls team. I’m referring to the gloriously talented Nellieball units contained within this extraordinarily versatile Warriors roster, that have the power to transform this Warriors team from pretender to contender.
We’ve seen these units beat the Heat. Twice. In their own gym.
We saw what they can do against the rough and tumble Bulls last night.
The Warriors defense didn’t miss a beat. Rim protection was replaced by swarming pressure defense. Disrupting the pick and roll. Creating turnovers. Closing out on three point shooters. Getting back on defense. Forcing the Bulls into the trap of uncomfortable and inefficient offense to exploit mismatches — low post isos — that Mark Jackson has too often fallen into himself this season.
And on offense… what a transformation. The ability to get out and run, what this Warriors team does best. 17 fast break points to the bigger and slower Bulls’ 7. Early offense threes.
In the halfcourt, Curry was unleashed because blitzing was not an option. Curry/Green pick and roll. Curry/Barnes pick and roll. Curry/Iggy pick and roll.
With a spread floor.
Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes wide open for threes. Because, pick your poison.
Last night, the Warriors have it all.
Will Mark Jackson take a lesson from this, or is he only capable of being a good coach when his bigs are taken from him by force?
Curry: Currently leading the NBA in assists. Is it still a thing to call him not a real point guard?
2 TOs last night. Did any of them come in the fourth quarter, when the Warriors were playing all-out Nellieball?
Something to consider: Sometimes turnovers are caused by lack of talent or inattentive play. But sometimes they’re caused by bad offense. Bad coaching.
The more the Warriors get out in the open court, the fewer turnovers they will have. The more the Warriors can break the Curry blitz by spreading the floor, the fewer turnovers they will have.
The more Nellieball, the fewer turnovers.
Iggy: I saw a hop in his step I haven’t seen in some time. Perhaps he’s getting better, or perhaps it was the urgency of the situation.
The steal and slam, yes. The badly needed 8 rebounds, yes. The crunchtime minutes at power forward (funny, this, one day after I admitted we’d probably never see that happen under Mark Jackson).
But equally as important as the defense, in my opinion, was the return of Point-Iggy. We saw a bit of everything last night. A drive and dish to Klay. That monster Green dunk over Noah? Iggy in the high post, working a Green/Curry pindown.
I recently saw a stat on the Warriors record when Iggy scores 10 or more. Far more important in my mind, is the Warriors record when Iggy gets 6 assists or more.
Jackson has been reluctant to put the ball in Iggy’s hands since his return from injury. Hopefully, that’s behind him now.
Barnes: At one point in this game, Barnes was 0-6, but leading the Warriors in plus/minus at +16. Draymond Green Jr.?
Not quite. And to a large degree, simply a reflection of Barnes not being forced to play on Jackson’s big units, which failed miserably, and being able to play on the smallball units, which succeeded spectacularly.
But don’t discount Barnes’ effort in this game. He did solid work on defense and on the boards, and contributed to this win.
It was nice to see those 4th Q threes fall for him. Because he’s been struggling. Because they came in the flow of a beautiful offense.
And because, on this night, he deserved them to fall.
How much longer can Mark Jackson refuse to play him at his best position?
Crawford: Lots of pick and roll. A beautiful spin-fake, drive and dish. A beautiful feed to a cutter off of a low post iso. A beautifully run fast break.
Some crunchtime run alongside Stephen Curry, in an ultra-small lineup.
A monster clutch three.
Speights: It would be fair to accuse me of having an obsession with Mo Speights. But it would be fairer to accuse me of having an obsession with coaching. Because I view Speights on the Warriors as a fascinating case study of how important coach and system can be to a role player’s worth.
I’ve noted previously the uptick in Speight’s plus/minus results since the addition of Jordan Crawford to the second unit. I have also argued strenuously that Speights is a center, and not a power forward. Never, ever a power forward. Because first and foremost, he can’t defend that position. And secondly, because in the hands of mediocre coaches like Mark Jackson, he doesn’t help space the floor any better than Carl Landry did.
It’s just one night’s data, and not dispositive of anything, I understand. But let me add it to your consciousness:
Speights was +4 last night.
He was -4 right off the bat, when Mark Jackson inexplicably brought him in to play power forward alongside Jermaine O’Neal. So -4 at PF.
He was +8 at center.
Let’s break that down further. He was -2 at center against Taj Gibson and Bulls smallball.
And +10 matched up against legitimate centers. +8 against Noah. +2 against Mohammed.
Contrary to what some posters think, the above is not an expression of my “love” for Mo Speights. I simply believe he is an interesting piece to the puzzle. A guy who can contribute to the second unit when used correctly. And I really, really want to see him used correctly.
I see in Mo Speights a litmus test for a head coach:
Any coach who insists on playing him at power forward, after having him for 50 games, should be fired.
Any coach who compounds his error, by playing him alongside a 35 year old Jermaine O’Neal, should be fired at halftime, and handed a Keith Smart Lifetime Achievement Award on his way out.
And any coach who does both of the above, without having the sense to move Speights out behind the three point line…
Should submit his resume to Joe Lacob. He’s got a good shot to be the next Warriors head coach.