Clippers 111 Warriors 98: Dead Horses

I’m not going to harp too much on the outcome of this game, because as the game wore on, it became apparent that the Warriors didn’t have the horses to go the distance. Actually, it was apparent as early as the first quarter, when Mark Jackson pulled Stephen Curry at 4:14. No way he does that if Curry’s 100% — he’s been playing the entire first quarter this season. And as even 5 yr. old Warriors fans know — better than anyone, in fact — no Stephen Curry, no win.   

Also contributing to the loss was the fact that Bogut didn’t show up. If you couldn’t tell that with your eyes, let some boxscores be your aids. In the two home wins the Warriors have against the Clippers this season, Bogut went for 10 points and 14 rebounds, and then 14 points and 17 rebounds. Last night, 6 and 6.

If you don’t know by now, Bogut is not a player who travels well. He’s not a road warrior. His home and away splits are atrocious, even in the playoffs.

It’s possible that travel affects his body. He got off the long plane flight from China in the preseason with a sore back, and it’s not a stretch (cough) to assume that all plane flights are tough on his back and assorted other elongated parts.

Or it’s possible that he simply hates playing on the road. He certainly complains about it enough on Twitter.

And playing on a back to back of course compounds the problem for Bogut. All big men struggle on back to backs, and Bogut more than most. His bones need rest.

Put it all together, and you get a 6 and 6, and a Warriors loss.

Other factors in this loss: This was not just a statement game for the Clippers, but a game they probably viewed as a must-win. Given the remaining schedule, a loss to the Warriors would have loosened the Clippers grip on the four seed, and one thing I’m certain they don’t want is to give the Warriors home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

You could tell how badly Doc Rivers wanted this game by his rotations. He played Blake Griffin the entire second half, and Chris Paul all but three minutes.

That option was simply not available to Mark Jackson on this night. His horses were tired and beat up, and at least in Bogut’s case, dreaming of the barn.

Jackson was forced to rely heavily on his bench, and this game exposed just how wide a gap exists between the Warriors retooled bench and the Clippers retooled bench.

And just how wide a gap exists between the Clippers professional front office, and the Warriors amateur front office.

While Doc Rivers (the de facto GM of the Clippers) added championship pieces at the trading deadline, in the form of Danny Granger, Big Baby Davis and Hedo Turkoglu, Joe Lacob (the de facto GM of the Warriors) added mismatched parts and fingers in the dike.

The Steve Blake and Jordan Crawford Backcourt: The moment of exhilaration provided by the romp against the Mavericks’ undersized and defensively horrible second unit backcourt didn’t last long, did it? Blake and Crawford came crashing down to earth in this game, combining for an 0-11, and 1 assist.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t just a bad game. It was a solid indication of what the Warriors are going to get from this backcourt in the playoffs. As I have been hinting since the acquisition of Steve Blake was made.

Let’s start with Crawford (and apologies for covering old ground). I was initially upbeat about this acquisition, because Jordan Crawford, when played at point guard, is just the sort of playmaker the Warriors needed to jumpstart their second unit. A guy who could breakdown opposing point guards off the dribble, and at 6-4″, shoot over the top of them. And a guy who can find open teammates when he’s doubled.

He’s also a guy who’s good at pushing the tempo, and running a fast break. Which is what you want when you’re playing a Nellieball second unit with Draymond Green at the four, isn’t it? (Isn’t it, Mark Jackson?)

But unfortunately, Crawford is no longer playing point guard for the second unit. The acquisition of Steve Blake has pushed him to the two. And as I have been repeatedly emphasizing recently, Jordan Crawford is a lousy two guard. In the regular season, much less in the playoffs. As last night (and his entire career) indicated, Crawford is very likely to get DESTROYED in the Western Conference playoffs. If he even sees the floor at all. I suspect that Mark Jackson will be forced to tighten his rotation to leave Crawford on the bench.

Why? First of all, because Crawford is undersized for a two-guard. He simply will not be able to get his mid-range shot off against opposing two-guards in the playoffs. Willie Green ate him alive last night, blocking his shot twice. And Green is 6-3″! Against the 6-5″ and 6-6″ players Crawford will be facing in the playoffs it will be… exceedingly tough.

Secondly, because Crawford is a distinctly mediocre three point shooter, shooting just 31%. Isn’t that what Draymond Green shoots?

And third, because unlike Draymond, Crawford can’t defend. While I’ve been impressed by how hard he is working on the defensive end since joining the Warriors, he’ll never be a plus defender at the two-guard. As noted, he’s undersized. And he doesn’t have a stopper mentality.

Can’t score, can’t defend. Is that a winning recipe for a two-guard?

And now, on to Steve Blake. Blake is a good, solid point guard, who has been a godsend to the Warriors second unit. Mainly because Jackson trusts him enough to actually play him at the point guard. Which was not the case with his three predecessors at the position this season, Toney Douglas, Kent Bazemore and… Jordan Crawford.

Blake is fully capable of playing the way that Mark Jackson wants to play on the second unit. Walking the ball up the court, feeding the ball to Jermaine O’Neal, or Barnes, or Klay in the post. Or taking a high pick and driving the lane, looking for an open teammate.

But what Blake is NOT capable of doing is creating shots for himself. He cannot break ankles and get to the rack. He cannot work himself into the lane and get a high percentage mid-range jumper, ala Jarrett Jack (and Crawford).

Don’t underestimate the importance of this limitation in Blake’s game. It was the main reason that the Clippers were able to dominate the Warriors second unit last night. Where was the Warriors’ mismatch? Jermaine O’Neal or Draymond Green on Jordan, Griffin, Davis? Barnes on Granger? Crawford on Green? The Warriors needed Blake to create for them.

Last night, and against playoff defenses as a rule, the Warriors’ second unit will be desperate for a point guard who can create his own offense. Who can light it up off the dribble. Who can force the defense to react, and get his teammates open.

That’s simply not Steve Blake. Blake was actually perfect for the Lakers, playing with Kobe Bryant. Bryant would of course dominate the ball, allowing Blake to float on the perimeter. When he received the pass, boom, three point shot. Or, if his defender closed out hard, drive and dish against an already out of position defense. That’s Steve Blake.

Perhaps you’re asking yourself, well, why can’t Jordan Crawford play the Jarrett Jack role? Play the point guard, and move Blake off the ball?

The reason is this: The Jack/Curry backcourt worked because Jack could attack the mismatch. If the other team put their best defender on Curry — which they always did — then Jack could attack the worst defender, usually the point guard.

But when Crawford and Blake are played together, the other team will always put their best defender on Crawford, and hide their worst on Blake. Always. And Blake simply can’t exploit the mismatch.

What’s the solution? In my mind, when the Warriors second unit gets stymied the way it did last night, the solution is to bench Blake, and use Crawford at the point.

AND RUN. 

Unfortunately, that would require a different coach and a different system.

And a different front office.

Curry: Get well soon, kid, the Warriors aren’t going anywhere without you.

Unfortunately, as with Iggy earlier, the Warriors can’t afford to rest him.

Thompson: The recent trend of aggressive offensive performances continued in this game. And it was extremely interesting to note that the Warriors broadcast devoted a segment to just this fact, providing graphics showing the decreasing role of the three point shot in Klay’s game since the All-Star break.

So I guess I’m on to something here. Either that, or someone on the Warriors’ PR staff has been reading me.

Even more impressive to me than his offensive performance, though, was the defense he played on Chris Paul. The last time I checked, Klay Thompson was leading the league in miles run per game. (A new stat brought to us by SportVu, or somesuch.) You’d only have to watch this game to understand why. Thompson shadowed Paul everywhere on the court. Over screens, under screens, cutting off drives, refusing to bite on shake and bakes, using his length to deny over the top passes and the midrange pull-up. Holding Paul to 5-15 shooting.

It was absolutely extraordinary to watch. Klay Thompson doesn’t do this with athleticism. He does it with his brain, which unlike his feet, is lightning quick. Thompson is one of the highest IQ defenders I have seen in my entire life.

A basketball genius, and a rising star.

Barnes: Before I start ripping Barnes, I owe it to him to point out that he’s been playing much better as of late on the defensive end. He’s been working hard, and it has payed off in several recent games. I also note that he’s been using his athletic ability to go for far more shot blocks than he has previously. Something that has been a bit of a bugaboo for me.

Now to the ripping. Unlike Klay Thompson, Barnes is an extremely low IQ defender, who’s never seen an upfake that didn’t lift him off his feet, or a crossover that didn’t break his ankles.

Last night, he was repeatedly taken to the cleaners by an old man on one knee. Not tall enough, or willing to get close enough, to bother Granger’s shot. Not quick enough — or, like Klay Thompson, smart enough — to keep Granger in front of him.

If the Warriors and Clippers meet again in the playoffs, this matchup will be key.

Bogut: I ripped on Bogut above. Now for some praise.

In the last few games, Bogut has shown far more aggressiveness in rolling to the basket. And he’s found a very reliable finish in that little floater he’s tossing up.

This is an extremely positive development for busting the Curry blitz.

Lee: Almost single-handedly kept the Warriors alive in this game.

I posted this in the previous thread, but I feel the need to repeat it here. Do you know who the number one best defender of the pick and roll among Western Conference power forwards is? That’s right, none other than David Lee, at .94 ppp.

I wonder if Professor Goldsberry will bring this up at the next Sloan Conference? Or if Adam Lauridsen or Ethan Strauss or Tim Kawakami or Danny Leroux will ever mention this in a post?

Anyone willing to take 100-1 against?

Memo to Mark Jackson: On the rare occasions you go to the Lee at center, Green at PF lineup, how about pick and roll? For the love of Mike, not post-ups, not isos. Pick and roll.

“Whenever the Warriors post up Biedrins or Lee, they are doing the offense a favor. Stephen Curry and David Lee are among the best pick and roll players in the league.”

Do you remember who said that…?

YOU SAID IT, ON NATIONAL TV. Back when you were doing something you were competent at.

Iggy: Looking more and more like himself. But didn’t get to that magic 6 assist number, so the Warriors lose.

O’Neal: This is a terrible matchup for him. Why did Mark Jackson find the need to go to him in the post? There’s no edge there against this team. The Warriors need a different option.

I wonder, hypothetically speaking of course, would a stretch-five have any value against this Clippers front line? A guy who could not only stretch the floor to pull Jordan out of the lane, and create openings for Crawford, Barnes and Green, but also rebound and block shots and stand up like a man in the paint? A guy who never backs down from a fight, as we saw recently against Tyson Chandler?

Could a guy like that have any value against DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin and Big Baby?

Yes, I’m still going to beat this dead horse. I’m referring, of course, to the name that must not be spoken, MOKUR, the bane of Warriors fans’ existence, replacing their previous bane, David Lee.

MOKUR, who shot above 50% in the previous two Warriors wins against the Clips (O’Neal wasn’t available), but who now languishes in banishment on the Warriors bench.

The player whom Mark Jackson utterly failed to develop at his true position.

Just like Kent Bazemore.

36 Responses to Clippers 111 Warriors 98: Dead Horses

  1. Felt, great analysis, but just wanted to mention that the Blake/Crawford problem isn’t as much about the who as the how. There’s no reason Crawford couldn’t initiate the offense, with Blake as an off-the-ball shooting option. Or using Blake as PG, there’s no reason he couldn’t initiate early offense. He’s no speedster, but neither is Curry. It’s the system.

    Totally agree with your take on the Clips’s recent acquisitions v. the Ws. Rivers added savvy, reliable talent across the board. Known quantities. After all the wheeling and dealing this season, the Ws added just one guy like that, Blake. Crawford doesn’t count. His real (only?) talent is as wild card. Not a cog.

    Inserting a stretch C could have helped a lot last night. That means playing either Speights, or DGreen @ C with a smallball lineup. It’s pretty clear that neither approach was in the plans. Jackson never does seem to have a Plan B, and he refuses to mix and match lineups to adjust to game conditions. Tweaking the matchups is for cheaters and wimps, I guess. Jackson is especially inflexible in tough games, when he should be at his best.

    I wish Jackson were sneakier, or smarter, or something. You know, coach to win. Moral victories are what losers claim.

    • The Warriors tried to initiate offense with Crawford last night, and he got eaten alive.

      As mentioned above, the reason why the Warriors can’t use Crawford to initiate offense with Blake on the floor, is that Crawford will be covered by the other team’s best defender, usually a player bigger than him. Crawford can’t get his midrange shot off over good defensive two guards.

      Also, the object of a good offense is to attack the other team’s weaknesses, not it’s strengths. The best way to exploit Crawford’s ability to initiate offense is to play him with Curry or Thompson. That will get the worst defender on him.

      As for running more with the Blake/Crawford backcourt, I couldn’t agree more. On most nights in the playoffs, it will be the only way to get this particular second unit a good shot.

  2. thanks again felt boss. since 4’s who can shoot 3’s are popular now (and green despite lip service from the coach is barely used as such), has anyone seen Mirza Teletovic play ? a native of Mostar (Bosnia) who survived its terrible siege as a kid growing up there, he made his pro debut at 17, and got over to the Spanish league a few years later. never drafted by an n.b.a. team and is now in his second season for Brk at the age when many players peak, 28. career high score vs. Dal this season and a key contributor last night in the win over Mia. Brk is mocked by many for its player budget but apparently found a free agent at a reasonable tariff. we have yet to see what exactly made lacob/myers/schenk invest draft picks into kuzmic and NN.

    • I saw your post on the last thread moto. Kidd’s done an amazing job in an extraordinarily difficult and complicated situation. The lineups he’s come up with have been very interesting. Pierce and Teletovic at stretch 4, Livingston at point forward, DWill off the ball, etc. Tough, tough defense, which I didn’t think possible with this team. Who woulda thunk this would wind up a Nellieball team before the season started?

      If you want to credit a mentor for Kidd, I think it would have to be Carlisle, for whom Kidd played point forward on a Nellieball championship team.

      Teletovic is an interesting piece, deadly three point shooter, good rebounder, but with major defensive issues. I think Nellie would hide him at center.

      • I did see the Miami game, remarkable. And amazing that the Nets are 3-0 against the Heat this year.

        Kidd is my coach of the year, hands down. Took several injury disasters on the chin, weathered a horrific start, a media firestorm and devastated morale to rebuild his team on the fly in a completely different style. Not sure I’ve ever seen it done before, and certainly not with this kind of success.

        Hornacek second. Special mention to Dwayne Casey up in Toronto.

        • those three are indeed compelling coaching tales. over the next two or three seasons we might be treated to another in Bos, where ainge gave stevens a six year deal, conceding that he’d get a very rough initiation by necessity, and not likely to sign him for less. what stevens did at Butler earned him tenure-like security through 2022.

          back in oaktown, would not surprise me to see lacob and myers give the preacher an extension past next year, unless a compelling alternative unexpectedly pops up in their radar. if the situation continues to be unstable in NY, they can always trade him there.

        • Agree, great turnaround by Kidd without their 2nd best player in Brooke Lopez and best player not recovered yet, also weathering Lawrence Frank fiasco etc..

          My vote though goes to David Joerger. How many people even know his name, he is Memphis coach keeping team together and into playoffs when 2 or 3 starters missed most of the season. Oh, don’t think anyone want to play Memphis in 1st round.

  3. Very informative Mr. Feltbot. All the FO/Coach had to do is use what they had, and they had it made — Crawford at point, Bazemore at 2 and/or 3, Mokur at Stretch-5, some small ball with Curry & Lee PNR. Barnes can even help in some situations, though he certainly should have been traded before the dead-line.

  4. Klay Thompson Watch ( after FB’s prediction that he is turning the corner)

    26 pts on 19 shots, 1 rbd, 1 asst, 1 stl, relentless defense

    Another FB win. Per FB’s arguments about previous scoring the record now stands at 4-0-1. Looking good so far. It’ll be interesting to see how he closes out the season.

  5. The below is by Tom Meschery and seems to me to be close to Felbot’s free throw shooting instruction, written in poetic format:

    Every day I loved
    to sharpen
    my shooting eye,
    waiting
    for the touch.
    Set shot, jump shot,
    layup, hook –
    after a while
    I could feel
    the ball hunger –
    ing to clear
    the lip of the rim,
    the two of us
    falling through.

  6. I believe I am in error as to the author of the above poetry.

    The poem appears on Tom Meschery’s blog and attributed to Carl Linder.

  7. Paging Mike D’Antoni…

    • Warriorsablaze

      While I’d love for this team to have a competent offensive system, why do we want to go from an only defense coach to an only offense coach? How about someone who cares about both ends?

  8. I gave a more thorough than usual Twitter recap tonight…

    Went 21 tweets deep.

    • cosmicballoon

      Felt, this game had me scratching my head. Why did the starters have such an easy go in the first quarter and then struggle for the rest of the game?

    • lacob and myers were probably hoping that barnes would show sufficient promise and they could seriously entertain and maximize trade offers for thompson. without first round draft picks to deal, they haven’t too many other attractive assets they’d be willing to liquidate. barnes played 41 min., and a stretch in crunch time when the preacher was trying to approximate the very successful lee-green-thompson-iguodala-curry lineup. this was a very good game for thompson and family. lacob and myers have also put priority on size but not speed and quickness, with big investments in the vets bogut, lee, iguodala, who won’t be getting faster.

      • cosmicballoon

        6 pts, 5 rbs, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 blk. +7? All the Warriors starters except for DLee at -13 were positive, with Iggyand Bogut at +12 and +13.

        This to me is a classic indication that Jackson is not integrating his subs with the starters correctly at all. When the sub’s are shooting well, the hockey line change works. When they are not, the offense completely stagnates and we get what we saw last night. Jackson’s poor rotations and inability to correctly match up are going to be the reasons the Warriors lose in the playoffs this season. The actual make up of the roster is fine.

        What a gross game. Outside of the first quarter, maybe the worst we’ve seen this season.

  9. cosmicballoon

    I absolutely hate Harrison Barnes’ offensive decision making. He rarely makes the correct basketball play, all the way down to making entry passes into the post.

    • did anyone catch Barnett’s critiques of Barnes ? going by comments on another blog, he didn’t adhere to the lacobite media guide for the young player.

      • yes, he’s gotten increasingly frustrated with Harrison, but this was the first time he seemed genuinely perturbed

        How does Barnes get 41 minutes and Draymond 28?

        • cosmicballoon

          And Iggy — as good as he is on defense, if he is not going to take a shot for an entire quarter (3rd), then what is he doing on the court? When Barnes and Iggy are on the court together, it’s almost painful to watch Curry have to create everything. Iggy seems to be getting healthier, but he has pretty much stopped trying to get to his spot on the floor with a purpose of scoring. This could be on Mark Jackson, or it could be on Iggy. I am not sure.

        • one of the savants on lauridsen’s blog added barnes’ 41 min. + 7 from crawford = 48 thompson’s, though 41 is close to what the preacher would give thompson in a game like this. of course, most of the minutes barnes would also get didn’t go to green in this game. on a certain level, the minutes reflect how much the coach and organization value a player, and in the case of players on rookie contracts, they also influence the value of the critical second contract. barnes is getting set up to make millions more in his career than green.

          • cosmicballoon

            Harrison Barnes isn’t set up for a big deal yet…and the playoffs are not likely to help him this year like they did last. At this point, Green and Barnes are about equal in terms of their next contract, IMO. Green’s top 5 points allowed per 100 possessions will get him a contract. Barnes hasn’t proven anything yet, and I sure hope every team in the NBA is aware of this.

            How Barnes is earning PT is beyond me at the moment. The 41 minutes mean that Jackson sees him as a replacement for Klay. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      • warriorsablaze

        Any one have a link to a transcript? I keep seeing comments about a Barnett Barnes rant but haven’t been able to see/read it.

  10. I’m just curious.

    Did anyone catch Jackson’s postgame comments on the loss? Does anyone know what he was trying to do?

    • warriorsablaze

      I didn’t catch them, but I’m sure he was trying to throw the players under the bus for their effort while taking no responsibility himself for his rotations/strategy/etc….as usual.

      • Dead on. We got the “didn’t give enough effort” talk, a.k.a script b.

        No mention of the friggin white elephant black falcon. No mention of Dion Waiters +18 in 10 minutes against the alleged “defense” of Barnes and Crawford.

        No mention of Draymond (18 points+9 rebounds+mayhem) outplaying Bogut, or the fact that he might be the only one on the team who could really guard Spencer Hawes. Or that DG wasn’t used to guard Hawes.

        I don’t expect (or even want) a coach to trash individual players by name. And I don’t demand mea culpas from a guy who’s clinging to a job. But Jackson is 100% predictable during the game and after. And because he is, he got beaten by the 2nd worst coach in the NBA.

        41 minutes for the white elephant black falcon. 6 points, 0 defense. Is it time for the team to promote him as 6th man of the year? That would be no sillier than including him in the AllStar voting.

  11. While I don’t totally disagree with you that Crawford is hampered when guarded by a taller player, his problems playing either PG or SG are more fundamental. As he sometimes takes it to the rim when
    opponent players are waiting for him, or he takes shots from
    places he does not appear to have shot from in practice, and he often takes inappropriate and off-balanced contested shots.

  12. Did anybody catch the Kyle Anderson stat line vs. Arizona yesterday? 21 point, 15 rebounds, 5 assists. How this guy is ranked #25 by DraftExpress is beyond a mystery to me. I think he’s competing for ROY with Jabari Parker when it’s all said and done.

    • fuzzy dunlop

      I think it really depends on where he ends up. He basically plays the point at UCLA, correct? I’m not sure he’ll get the opportunity to be the primary ball handler in the NBA. Very interesting player though, maybe a Hedo Turkoglu with even better vision and feel for the game?

      • He’s literally a point forward. I don’t know how else to describe him. He rebounds like a PF. He’s got insane reach (9′) and wingspan (7’2.5″) and those measurements are from 2012!!!

        • fuzzy dunlop

          Wow, I didn’t realize that. His steal numbers are really encouraging too for a guy who supposedly “can’t defend on the next level”. Shows that he actually puts that length to good use. Looks like a steal.

  13. Anderson a star. Very smart but not quick. Father a coach. Played for Bob Hurley at St. Anthony in New Jersey.

  14. fuzzy dunlop

    Talk about a team beating its coach.

    -Does Jackson know what TS is? EFG? I wish I was joking. Watching Thompson eagerly call for the ball-with teammates pointing to him as well- and repeatedly shoot contested long 2s over Lillard or whoever was downright infuriating. Jackson’s infatuation with ISOs and post ups will quite simply doom the warriors. He doesn’t seem any closer to “getting it” either.
    -I feel like warrior fans should be paid to watch Harrison Barnes play basketball at this point. He’s not the worst player in the league (or on this roster) but he’s bad in ways that are uniquely frustrating. The anti Draymond Green. Yuck.
    -The warriors have a spacing problem. Part of that is on Jackson but part of it is on the players. Iggy and of course Bogut to varying degrees can’t or won’t shoot. And Lee is at sub 35% on mid range Js+can’t shoot threes. For all the words wasted in this blog about the supposed squandering of Speights, the straightforward, obvious spacing solution is replacing Lee with a stretch 4. But I guess we just can’t do without his… Pick and Roll defense.
    -Credit to Thompson for stepping up his play. I hope I’m wrong about his long term ceiling.