Anyone satisfied with this win? I don’t like to quibble with wins generally, but the noise surrounding this one was pretty loud. Steve Kerr and Chris Webber absolutely killed Mark Jackson’s stagnant iso-heavy offense in their TNT commentary last night. And that was nothing compared to what I saw on Twitter from the Warriors media.
The Rockets are far from a good defensive team. They have Howard in the middle and Beverley at the point, but have no wing stoppers. And they are right in the middle of the pack in defensive efficiency with a DRating of over 105.
The Warriors made them look like defensive monsters last night, putting up all of 89 points in regulation. Mark Jackson failed to exploit any of their weaknesses. In fact, largely played right into the Rockets’ hands.
Walking the ball up the court. Getting outscored 23-13 on fastbreak points. I was astonished to see the Warriors continue to walk the ball up the court even in that Green at center lineup against Asik in the second half.
Playing smallball against the out of shape Asik? Great idea. Walking the ball up against him? Are you kidding me? Has Mark Jackson ever even heard of running after a made basket? He should, because he’s seen it done against Bogut and O’Neal virtually every game.
Playing utterly inefficient ISO basketball with Lee, Barnes and O’Neal against a set half-court defense anchored by Dwight Howard. Seriously?
Is this really the team that Sloan Conference attendee Joe Lacob wants the Warriors to be? The team that LEADS THE LEAGUE in ISO offense?
The team that despite having the most gifted offensive roster in the entire league is currently 13th in offensive efficiency? 9th in fastbreak points?
Does Andre Iguodala benefit from slowing the pace? Steve Kerr certainly doesn’t think so. Nor does Jim Barnett.
Does Harrison Barnes benefit from playing small forward in the half-court? Only someone who didn’t watch last year’s playoffs could think that.
Do the best early offense three point shooters in the league benefit from the smothering they’re currently getting in the half-court?
Mark Jackson got the win in this game, yes. But it smacked to me of a bailout. The genius of Curry. The injury to Harden. Did this game have to play out the way it did?
Joe Lacob, is this the identity of the Warriors?
O’Neal: The block heard round the world! Terrific, inspiring throwback defensive performance. It may be going too far to say that it saved the Warriors season — I still believe their easy schedule down the stretch will carry them higher than people believe — but it was beyond doubt timely.
Nonetheless, I think Jackson overplayed him in this game. The Warriors scored a pathetic 18 points in the fourth quarter, losing the quarter by 4, and allowing the Rockets to take it to overtime. Which the Rockets very well may have won, if Harden hadn’t hyper-extended his elbow.
McHale totally won the matchup battle with Mark Jackson down the stretch last night, moving Parsons to the four in the fourth quarter, pulling David Lee out of the lane. Which had the effect of not only spreading the floor for the Rockets offense, but completely destroying the Warriors rebounding.
Do you know how many rebounds David Lee got in the 17 minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime, in which he played every minute? Zero.
That’s right, 14 rebounds through the first three quarters. Zero after that. While the Warriors were outrebounded 15-7 in the 4th quarter.
How did this happen?
Kevin McHale outcoaching Mark Jackson was how. McHale going SMALL while Jackson stayed BIG was the reason. Because McHale succeeded in pulling the Warriors’ best rebounder out to the three point line, spreading the Warriors out, and isolating the much slower O’Neal against Howard on the boards.
What could Jackson have done differently? End the game with his best lineup.
This season, the lineup of Lee at center, Green at four, Iggy, Klay and Curry has an ORating of 125 and a DRating of 95. While being played primarily in crunchtime.
Allowing Green to cover Chandler on the perimeter, and scramble back to help with the rebounding.
Allowing Lee to remain in the paint, to do what he does best on defense: rebound.
And on offense, allowing Curry and Lee to pull Howard completely out of the lane to guard the high pick and roll. Ripping out the underpinnings of the Rockets defense. Opening the floor for the Warriors offense.
And allowing the Warriors to RUN.
You think Lee can’t handle Howard in the middle for 5-7 minutes in crunchtime? I know differently: I had floor seats when he shut down Howard, man to man, for an entire second half, a few years ago. BEFORE Howard hurt his back.
Take another look at that 95 DRating for the Lee and Green frontcourt. To put it in perspective, the #1 ranked Indiana defense has a DRating of 93. The #2 ranked Chicago defense is at 97.
There is more than one way to play great defense. And having two world class defensive wings like Green and Iggy in the game, centered by one of the best defensive rebounders in the league, is one of them.
Now take a look at that 125 ORating, and ask yourself the questions that Mark Jackson failed to ask last night:
Can Dwight Howard and the defensively mediocre Rockets stop Curry/Lee pick and roll?
Can they stop the fastbreak?
Basketball is a two-way sport, and the name of the game is not defense, but point-differential.
Lee: Instead of pick and roll at center, Lee was fed a steady diet of isolations and postups at power forward, at which he is decidedly less efficient. A big reason for this is that the Rockets can set their defense, and Dwight Howard is lurking behind Lee’s own man. Which forces Lee to go fast, and generally spin away from the middle.
The second reason is that when the Rockets guarded Lee with smaller players, like Harden, he lost his main offensive advantage: his speed. Harden successfully disrupted his dribble, and made it hard for Lee to initiate his move.
Do you know how I’m always saying that Lee is most effective against bigger and slower players? Case in point.
Nonetheless, a huge game from Lee, in a yeoman-like 45 minutes.
It could have been huger, with a better coach.
Curry: Not a closer? Once again, Curry pulled Mark Jackson’s fat out of the fire with that brilliant last second drive and left handed finish high off the glass over Howard’s outstretched arm.
And may I be so bold as to ask why Jermaine O’Neal was in the game for THAT play? What purpose does he serve on THAT play?
Give Dwight Howard someone to guard? A reason to lurk in the lane? Give Curry a higher degree of difficulty for the highlight reel?
I don’t think there’s a coach in the league that would have O’Neal in the game in that spot, other than Mark Jackson.
SPREAD THE FLOOR. Sheesh.
A very gritty performance by Curry against an all-league defender in Patrick Beverley. Did you notice how reluctant Curry was to allow Beverley to force him to give up his dribble? How skillful he was in drawing him into fouls?
Did you notice only 2 turnovers? And zero in the last game?
No thanks to Mark Jackson, whose offense is putrid, and should be using Iggy and Klay to bring the ball up the court much more often.
Ethan Strauss suggested on Twitter last night that Curry should just say no to Mark Jackson’s insistence on ISO basketball. Because Curry holds the power in the Warriors organization.
So preaching open revolt against the coach? That should go over well in the interview room.
It’s also not a bad idea. Magic Johnson would approve.
Barnes: Now that the rookie-sophomore All Star abomination, the Slam-Dunk abomination, and the trade deadline have all passed… and now that the Warriors have two legitimate NBA guards to play on the second unit… and since Mark Jackson has proved completely unwilling to play stretch-fours when he has any other alternative… there are very few legitimate reasons to play Harrison Barnes. He’s going to go back to sitting on the bench in fourth quarters. As he did last night.
As we’ve seen throughout last season and this, Barnes is completely unable to impact an NBA game from the small forward position. Inefficient on offense, invisible on defense.
One of my favorite moments of last night’s game came just as Barnes took the floor. The TNT boys were discussing Barnes’ struggles, and Mark Anderson said:
Mark Jackson says he has complete confidence in Barn— AND HARDEN BURIES A THREE!
Far from the first facial I’ve seen Barnes take in his career, but the first that made me laugh.
Mark Jackson is of course still insisting on ISOing Barnes on offense, but he has made a significant adjustment. Barnes is no longer receiving the ball in the low post with his back to the basket, which invariably results in an off-balance fall-away turnaround jumper (or a turnover) completed at about 25%. Now Barnes is facing his defender up, and trying to drive around him. Which invariably results in Barnes moving sideways across the lane and attempting a floater, completed at about 30%.
Watching Barnes attempt to dribble against NBA defenders is like watching a dying fly throw itself at a window pane. Left, right. Left, right. Buzz.
Iggy: Once again we learned something from TNT that should have been reported weeks ago by the Warriors media. Iggy still has pain in his hamstring. It bothers him, for some reason, more on offense than on defense. But now that the stretch run is upon us, he intends to go all out.
Point-Iggy was back in last night’s game, thank heaven. He will be badly needed in that role down the stretch, with Curry getting blitzed at unprecedented rates. And Mark Jackson unwilling to alter his fourth quarter rotation to bust it.
Am I the only one perturbed that the Warriors media is owned lock stock and barrel by Lacob, Inc.? That the only breaking injury news we get comes from national outlets?
Well, if nothing else, it keeps Dr. Felt employed.
The Steve Blake trade: Hard to argue with this move. The Warriors got a quality backup point guard for nothing. In addition to running the point well, Blake is a good three point shooter, a good defender, and an all-around hard-nosed competitor who earned Kobe Bryant’s trust and admiration.
His acquisition comes with a few interesting implications, however, one of which we again were forced to learn from the TNT crew: The Warriors were dissatisfied with Jordan Crawford’s decision-making.
1) Blake is going to be running the second unit. Which augurs less running with small units on the second team, and more halfcourt play with big units. Exactly what Blake excels at. And exactly what this Warriors team should not be doing.
2) Crawford is going to return to playing shooting guard, which makes you wonder why the Warriors acquired him in the first place. (And in fact, it was rumored on Yahoo that the Warriors shopped him after acquiring Blake.) Crawford is a distinctly below average shooting guard: Bad three point shooter (last night aside), bad defender.
Crawford showed the potential this season to become a good second unit microwave and playmaker. A ball-dominant sixth man.
The Warriors don’t care for him in that role. Which in my mind, has negative implications for the second unit’s style of play. We’re staying big, and we’re staying slow.
3) Barnes and Crawford are now in direct competition for minutes. Given the political climate, that spells trouble for Crawford, regardless of the matchup.
4) Matt Steinmetz, who has been harping all-season long over the Warriors failure to truly replace Jarret Jack (as have I), and who still believes that Curry is more of a shooting guard than a point guard (as I most emphatically do not), tweeted yesterday:
OK … next issue for Warriors: Who ain’t playing when they finish games with Blake-Curry backcourt?
Hmm… Steinmetz is quite the pot-stirrer, but there might be something to this. I could see this happening in certain situations.
The Warriors have added desperately needed depth to their bench. But not without some implications for team chemistry.
Big Baby, Earl Clark, etc.: Are the Warriors interested in adding frontcourt depth? Some big men are coming available through buyouts. I predict Big Baby goes to the Heat, although the Warriors are rumored to be showing interest. Marcus Thompson correctly points out that Earl Clark would be a better fit for the Warriors.
But would Mark Jackson even play a stretch-four? Ahead of Green or Barnes? Hard to believe.
And even if he did get him, he’d probably station him in the paint, like he does Mo Speights.