Warriors 113 Blazers 112: Nellieball in the Nick of Time

It will go completely unreported by the mainstream press, but it was Mark Jackson’s opening defensive game plan that nearly sunk the Warriors against the Blazers in this game.        

For the first time all season, Jackson brought Andrew Bogut all the way out of the lane to defend against the high pick and roll. Bogut was hedging out at the three point line! If you didn’t notice this in the flow of the game, it’s worth going back for a second look, because it is a major development in the Warriors’ defensive philosophy. M-A-J-O-R.

Unfortunately, this was absolutely the wrong game in which to employ this strategy. Not because Bogut can’t do it — that was disproven in the second half. But because it hung David Lee out to dry.

Allow me to elaborate: Bogut actually did a fine job showing on the high pick. He stopped Lillard and the other ballhandlers cold, and at the same time prevented them from shooting their favorite shot: the pull-up three. But Bogut was not quite as good at retreating back to the lane in time to pick up the roller, Robin Lopez. Virtually all of Lopez’ 14 points came off the pick and roll.

That’s where David Lee comes in. It was Lee’s assignment to rotate over to help on the rolling Lopez. Was this a fair assignment? Was it an assignment that Lee could reasonably be expected to carry out?

NO, IT WAS NOT.

Why? Because David Lee was being asked to guard the Blazers’ Nellieball power forward Dorell Wright all the way out in the corner, at the three point line. He was caught in no man’s land. There is simply no way in hell that Lee can guard DWright effectively, and still rotate in time to beat Lopez to the basket.

And that’s not Lee’s fault. David Lee is one of the most mobile conventional power forwards in the game. Something that is reflected in the fact that he is the best power forward in the West at defending the pick and roll. There is not a conventional power forward in the entire league that could have carried out Mark Jackson’s assignment. It was impossible.

Mark Jackson’s game plan to start this game was utterly ridiculous. His attempt to match up big against the Blazers’ small ball was utterly ridiculous. Asking Lee to guard a deadly three point shooting small forward in itself was ridiculous, even apart from giving him dual responsibility to help Bogut on pick and roll.

Did you happen to notice that Bogut and Lee finished the first half with 2 rebounds apiece? Two apiece! It’s not hard to understand why: They were both guarding out at the three point line!

Good lord.

And on the offensive side of the ball, the game plan was just as bad. Walking the ball up the court. Trying to run halfcourt offense to get Curry and Thompson open against a much quicker defense that could switch every screen. Trying to create mid-range twos out of ISO offense.

While the Blazers were running everything back and shooting wide-open threes in early offense.

Just mind blowing incompetence.

I know you’ve read me on the subject of Nellieball and the true identity of this Warriors roster ad nauseam, and your eyes are starting to glaze over, if not roll back in your head. So allow me to give you another voice, to let you know that far smarter basketball minds than myself are in agreement with me on this subject.

Here are a few in-game tweets from Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob), one of the savviest NBA analysts in history, who risks and makes millions of dollars every year betting on the sport:

Game in and Game out, Mark Jackson does more to hamper the GSW offense than anything the other team does.

Curry has 27 since MJax let him loose in the 2h. This is fun. Please stop over coaching him on offense.

Key to that GSW run – they rarely played with 2 bigs on the floor at the same time.

The Second Half: With the Warriors down 17 early in the third quarter, Jackson finally pulled the plug on his big lineup, and countered the Blazers’ Nellieball with Nellieball of his own.

With the expected result.

Why expected? BECAUSE THE WARRIORS HAVE ONE OF THE BEST NELLIEBALL TEAMS IN THE GAME, IF NOT IN HISTORY. (Just ask the Miami Heat.)

With Lee out, and Draymond Green in his place at power forward, all of a sudden Mark Jackson’s defensive game plan made sense. When Bogut left the lane to hedge the pick and roll, Green could fulfill the assignment to both guard the corner three, and cover Bogut’s ass in the lane.

And with the floor spread on offense, the Splash Brothers suddenly became unguardable, and started to light it up.

+4

The Warriors then played a remarkable 8 minute stretch of pure smallball, without a center, bridging the third and fourth quarters.

+10

Brought Bogut back in to play with Barnes at PF for 4 minutes.

+5

And then finished the game with Lee at center and Barnes at PF.

+7

And once again Mark Jackson’s fat was out of the fire.

I wonder what would have happened if he’d waited until the Warriors were down 19 to match up with the Blazers, instead of merely 17?

The Better Game Plan: It may shock you to read this, but I have no problem bringing David Lee off the bench when the Warriors are facing a Nellieball starting unit. In fact, if you don’t want to start Lee at center, I think it is absolutely mandatory. As has been proved time and time again this season, including in this game. Bogut and Lee together can’t guard Nellieball.

If Jackson had started Barnes alongside Bogut, and brought Lee and Green off the bench together, the Warriors might have won this game in a blowout. Great coaches have this kind of flexibility. Particularly in the playoffs.

Curry: I did my best writing on Curry years ago, when he was a rookie. I’m best writing about things that no one else can see, fighting, needling, trolling, making an argument.

Now that everyone can see it, I think the best thing I can do is simply make like a great baseball announcer calling a walk-off homerun:

Shut up and let the crowd roar.

Thompson: I’ve been doing quite a bit of arguing about Thompson this season, but I sense that’s about to end as well.

You can see it now, can’t you? The basketball genius? The perennial All Star in the making?

Continuing the trend that started after the All Star break, Klay took it to the basket with relentless ferocity. Numerous tough makes in the paint. Plus 6 free throws. (Is that his career high?)

(It’s a quibble, but he should be a better free throw shooter, and I can’t help but feel his quick release has something to do with it. You don’t need a quick release at the free throw line!)

Gary St. Jean rhapsodized about Klay’s newfound aggressiveness, and postulated that he has turned a corner in his game. So I guess it’s safe to pile on my analysis now. This is real, folks.

Klay doesn’t deserve total credit for Lillard’s 8-22 performance — Mark Jackson used Bogut to help take him out of the game. (For once, a blitz on someone other than Curry!). And yet, his defense was extraordinary.

Lillard burned him once in crunchtime on a backdoor cut. But when he tried to beat him off the dribble to end the game… Klay sent him away. Genius in action.

Klay carried the Warriors on both ends of the court in this game. While playing, like Curry, every minute of the second half.

Lee: As bad as Lee looked trying to execute Jackson’s ridiculously flawed opening defensive game plan, he looked absolutely great on defense while playing center in crunchtime.

Why? Because he’s the best power forward in the Western Conference at defending the pick and roll, that’s why. He came all the way out of the lane to guard the pick and roll at the three point line, and prevented the three point shot. He blanketed the ball handlers, in particular Wes Matthews, whenever they drove. And he had no problem recovering to guard the Lopezasaurus.

Lopez had 1 point and 1 rebound in the fourth quarter.

Bogut: Is Jackson preparing Bogut to leave the lane to defend pick and roll in the playoffs? That would be quite a development.

And a positive one, so long as Jackson has learned that he can’t do it against a Nellieball opponent, with Lee at PF.

And so long as it doesn’t kill Bogut’s ankles, as it may have done in this game.

Green: In a season of great performances, this was one of Green’s finest. You want to talk about a Swiss army knife player? In this game Green was often the center, guarding the point guard!

How good has Green been this last month? This good: with a focus primarily on defense, and getting only 23 minutes a game, he has been the 68th ranked fantasy basketball player in the league. He can’t help but fill up a stat sheet.

He’s also been shooting over 40% from three.

And .818 from the line. As I predicted he would. (Feltbot’s Law.)

Barnes: You would think that the second half of this game would be one in which Barnes would shine, wouldn’t you? A wide-open Nellieball contest, lots of minutes at stretch-four (and even stretch-five).

Nope, he was awful. And it’s not even the offense that really bothers me. It’s the defense. Late several times on rotations (he doesn’t have Lee’s excuse). Constant brain-dead fouls.

Basketball doesn’t come easy to the Black Emu.

Mark Jackson: A final word on the Warriors’ coach. You may have noticed that after the game he threw David Lee under the bus rather than cop to a ridiculously bad game plan. And you may have noticed that he benched Lee for most of the second half, opting for Green at center ahead of him. And even after Green fouled out, Jackson brought Bogut back in, leaving Lee on the bench. It was very clear to me at this point that Jackson was preparing to scapegoat Lee for this loss, if that’s what it turned out to be.

Would Jackson have brought Lee back into the game at all, if Green hadn’t fouled out, and Bogut hadn’t gotten injured? We’ll never know the answer to that.

Just as we’ll never know whether the Warriors would have won this game if Bogut had closed it out. Though I have my suspicions, and the fresh and painful memory of the Raptors game to go by.

The playoffs are right around the corner. It’s getting late.

“At the end of the day” is rapidly approaching.

Will Mark Jackson ever figure out how to deploy his extraordinary roster?

70 Responses to Warriors 113 Blazers 112: Nellieball in the Nick of Time

  1. “Here are a few in-game tweets from Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob), one of the savviest NBA analysts in history, who risks and makes millions of dollars every year betting on the sport:”

    This is a bit disingenuous if you don’t show the tweets where he’s ripping into David Lee (which is most of the time he comments about the Warriors).

  2. fuzzy dunlop

    Lee at center is a gimmick because he can’t protect the rim. He’s going to have to spend the overwhelming majority of his minutes guarding 4s, many of whom can step out and shoot the three. And he’s awful at it.

    I think you’re going way overboard on Thompson as well. He’s obviously playing better but “perennial all star”? He can max out as an elite 3 and D player. I’d be satisfied if he were to match Wes Matthews’s production.

    • Klay hasn’t just improved his shooting. He’s shown a post game that has become reliable since the Indiana game winner and he has been driving and finishing more at the rim, not to mention the additional freethrow attempts. He’s showing he’s a lot more well rounded on offence and not just a good outside shooter. His numbers on offence since the all star break are certainly at an all star level and yet I haven’t even begun to talk about how good he’s been on defence!
      With Kobe and wade on the decline the only other shooting guard is and will be better is harden…

      • fuzzy dunlop

        Well Joe Johnson has made 7 all star games (Seriously, let that sink in) so I guess anything is possible, but for the record his numbers post all star break-small sample size alert- really haven’t been all star worthy. Like I said, he’s definitely been playing better, but he’s much closer to being a league average SG than he is to challenging Harden.

  3. Fresh Donutz

    You are so full of yourself that it makes what I learn about basketball from you almost not worth learning.
    And you are implying that Jackson understands his faulty game plan and premeditated a podium hit and run of Lee in game?

    • Lee guarding D Wright was announced by St. Jean in the pregame. That by itself was a disaster in the making. Lee couldn’t possibly stay with Wright.

      Adding in the requirement for Lee to provide help D in the lane made the coach’s defensive game plan complete nonsense. Lee does OK guarding low-post 4s and 5s one-on-one, but he has never been especially good at help D. Never. Even when his primary assignment is in the low post.

      It doesn’t take a genius to see all that, just a coach who pays attention to the abilities of his players.

      Jackson attaches more status to starting than most pro coaches do. It’s like he’s willing to lose games so he doesn’t insult his guys. He should take a page from Popovich’s book. Duncan and Ginobili don’t sweat it when others start in their place. Being pros, his players understand the game, and they know Pop is going to put them in position to win, not dump impossible assignments on them (and then trash them after the game).

      • fresh donutz

        Yeah, I’ve noticed Jaskcons affinity for what basically adds upto political line ups. Or maybe salary based lineups. With no change to these save for injury or flu bug. I would love to see more finesse when it comes to our coaches line ups.

        • cosmicballoon

          +1 Hat and donutz. It’s unclear what his motivations are.

          That being said, he will probably start Jermaine O-Neal at 5 in the next game if Bogut is unavailable, which means he is stuck in conventionality, rather than mired in politics. He believes in continuity over skill level and playing the guys who have earned respect, over the correct match ups. It’s boneheaded.

          Hopefully someone in his ear can analyze why the Warriors had success with the Nellieball lineup and convince him to use it more frequently, especially when the other team dictates it.

  4. No, he never will.

  5. Felt, Great analysis and great observation especially on Bogut’s at high pick.

    I have to disagree on Lee though when you said it is not his fault on D. It is his fault if he wanders in no man’s land on D. Yes, he can’t guard both of Wright and also come back and guard Lopez, but how about guarding one of them, guarding neither in a possession is bad defense by him Lee. Credit to Lee though for still being productive when his number was called in the end after long rest.

    • When someone is tasked with an impossible assignment, failure is not their fault. It’s a boss’s screwup. That’s true anywhere, anytime, in any job.

      Realistically, Lee might have tried to cover Wright OR he might have tried to provide help D in the paint. If Jackson knew his stuff, he wouldn’t have put Lee in that position.

      It’s a credit to Lee that he tried to do both – soft coverage on Wright in an attempt to also back Bogut in the paint – while not going public on how completely asinine that assignment was. All props to Lee, a team player.

      As a fan, I wouldn’t mind if Lee blew the whistle on his coach. As someone who admittedly despises the stupid fuckhead Lee works for, I’d even encourage it.

      • our boss here the feltmeister is in a small minority (along with lee himself probably) placing the responsibility for lee’s predicament in the opening quarter with his coach ; most fans on the other blogs go back to their comfort zone of lee trade fantasies (to Min for love has been a favorite for several seasons whenever love is healthy). we don’t know what lacob and myers are seeing, and can’t tell if they understand how valuable and irreplaceable green is.

        • Perhaps, they are so aware of Draymond’s value, that they are tanking it purposely so that he does not get offered any kind of value when he becomes an RFA.

          Um, probably not.

          • With or without coaching direction, Green knows where to be and what to deliver when he gets there. Last night he collected 8 rebounds, then personally rushed the ball up the floor for early offense, precisely what his team needed to be successful. Every single time he did that, he was the first guy up the floor. His teammates lagged behind. Every time.

            I don’t imagine Jackasson was thinking “contract situation” at those times. He was probably begging for divine guidance or meditating on the comfort level of his underpants or something. Whatever he was doing, he sure didn’t take a coaching hint from Green. So no, I don’t imagine Jackson gives much thought to Green at all, except as an emergency last-resort answer to how-can-I-save-my-ass what-the-hell-should-I-now kinda thing. Not that Jackasson could ever admit that, of course.

      • Yep, coach is at fault too but Lee has to close in on his D. Check this video at 16 secs, there could be about 50 3PTrs scored on Lee this season with the same kind of D. He stays too far to become a factor on D in these possessions. He was bad on defending Lopez also. So, may be coach was right to bench him yesterday but like I said before, credit to Lee for being ready and come back strong to end the season.

        http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:10620964

  6. Mark Jackasson has the sweetest job in the world. A boss who covers for him, employees who believe they can’t not cover for him.

    All Jackasson has to do to keep his job is let his employees do their job to the best of their ability. And they do it! And they’re awesome! Curry and Thompson delivered an entire clinic on the furthest limits of human performance last night. Lee and Bogut ate shit and kept their mouths shut about his stupidity. Green played the game smarter than Jackson can even comprehend. Harrison Barnes, the White Elephant Black Falcon/Emu, didn’t, for once, cost him the game. As for the rest of the crew, while NONE of them felt free to shoot, even when they should have, none felt free to speak up.

    What a sweet job. No matter how much Jackasson fucks up, he can’t lose, even when the team loses. Sign me up. I want that job. Hey, I couldn’t do worse. Actually, few people on the planet could do worse. Except maybe Keith Smart.

  7. Klay Thompson Watch (since FB predicted he was turning it around)

    27 pts on 19 shots, 4 rbds, 1 stl, 2 blocks

    No surprise here as FB wins another one to go 5-0-1. Is it my imagination or has Klay’s defense improved also? (From darn good to flirting-with-elite.)

  8. There are some compelling arguments here, but on looking at a game replay, they appear to be largely fictional.

    I happened to read this post as a League Pass replay was starting, and watched the whole first half looking for “Jackson’s opening defensive game plan” of Bogut “hedging out at the three point line” on high P&Rs. I suppose it’s possible I missed something, but I didn’t see it once. In any event, it’s wrong to say the strategy “nearly sunk the Warriors” or “hung David Lee out to dry,” because during the 14-2 run where POR built their halftime lead, Bogut wasn’t on the floor. (Lopez was, against Lee & Green.)

    OK, I figure, maybe Feltbot meant the opening minutes of the second half. And sure enough, Bogut came out to the three-point line once… to no ill effect. The ball stopped in the corner, and Bogut recovered to Lopez.

    However, Lopez then set another screen, and Bogut stayed back to cut off the ballhandler, who then passed to an open Wright. Lee wasn’t trying to cover Lopez, who had drifted to the baseline on the other side of the floor; he was just trying to pack the paint and crept in too far to recover. Same thing on the next Wright three–at least Lopez was rolling to the hoop this time, but Bogut was a step away & Klay was right behind Lee.

    After the second Wright three, Jim Barnett commented, “The Warriors are overhelping.” I suspect that remark was directed at Lee.

    • I saw those defensive sequences same as you.

    • It’s true I may have misreported how far Bogut came out in general. He only came out to the three point line on a few occasions (something I’ve never seen before, have you?). However, he was extending at least to the foul line to hedge on most PNRs — a major change that would have helped greatly against Tony Parker in last year’s playoffs. And that extending continually got David Lee in trouble, trying to decide whether to stay with his man or give help.

      You’re mis-remembering the opening play of the third Q. Bogut extended, Lopez beat him to the hoop, and Lee rotated too late, fouling and giving up and AndOne. This was the play that stuck in my mind.

      Btw, Bogut threw his hands up in disgust at the late rotation. Think that might have had something to do with Lee “overhelping” on the subsequent plays?

      Post-game, Jackson said his players were “selfish” on both ends of the court. On defense, selfish generally means failing to rotate and give help. I think we can assume that comment was directed at Lee as well.

      So which was it? “Overhelping” according to Barnett, or “selfish” according to Jackson?

      Whichever it was, the gist is this: Bogut and Lee don’t defend Nellieball well together. They get stretched out all over the court, are not very effective guarding smaller players out on the perimeter, and are frequently out of position to give help or rebound. They are continually caught betwixt and between.

      Was the fault with David Lee, as Mark Jackson and most posters have it? Was it a question of effort? Would Kevin Love have done any better guarding Dorell Wright’s threes? Tim Duncan? LaMarcus? Blake?

      Do you want those guys away from the basket?

      Personally, I think the problem had much more to do with the fact that it was a terrible matchup, as it would be for any conventional PF, and that Mark Jackson solved the problem with his lineups in the second half.

      There is a reason why Greg Popovich always matches up small against Nellieball. Jackson should take heed.

      • I’ll confess, I didn’t pay much notice to the times Bogut came up near the free throw line, since I was misled by someone’s claim that he was coming “all the way out of the lane” and keeping Lilliard et al. from shooting pull-up threes.

        But either way, the premise of your post has collapsed. As I noted before, you can’t blame Portland’s first-half run on Bogut’s defensive positioning, since he was on the bench at the time.

        And even accepting your argument about the opening of the 3rd quarter, Jackson recognized the problem after a handful of possessions and made the kind of change you recommended by benching Lee barely two minutes into the quarter.

        Once you discard the false claim that the Bogut/Lee combination dug GS a hole in the first half, you’re left with Jackson making a relatively quick and assertive decision when trouble arose at the beginning of the second half.

  9. For me , the game’s significance was Bogut’s ankle injury. The wince of face conveyed severe pain. By the trainer not removing his sock as he sat on bench we were not able to see the amount of tape applied to his foot. Bogut appeared in great pain. Not sure that even cordizone shot will help that much. he definitely needs some down time. Fear of falling out of the playoffs may result in his playing more than he should.

    • He came back for last possession for rebounding. So, think he should be okay otherwise, Jermaine would have come. But, may be he does need rest and dubs can afford to rest him next two games.

    • Frank, bogut has already missed games due to a marked adverse reaction to cortisone, so that is an odd comment indeed.

  10. *************
    A day after the Warriors’ Draymond Green helped spark a comeback win at Portland, coach Mark Jackson was mentioning him in the same sentence as LeBron James.

    To Jackson, the only other player who could compare with Green in being able to legitimately guard all five positions was the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player.

    “Those two guys have the size, the strength, the knowledge, the competitive spirit in my opinion to do that,” Jackson said of James and Green, who he said was a “genius basketball-wise.”

    “It’s a tremendous luxury.”
    ******************

    http://www.insidebayarea.com/warriors/ci_25362292/warriors-draymond-green-draws-lebron-comparison

    • The overall IQ on this basketball team is incredible. We should be dominating.

    • jackson’s capacity for media hype helped get him the job and keeping up his chops won’t hurt if he ends up relocating back east. his comparison however does neither green nor l-b-j justice, they’re such different players. fairer to say, when james attends to the gritty details and makes plays that help his ‘mates look good, it gets noticed and praised, but from green it’s assumed he’ll give them every possession on both ends like his career depended on it. green has another role l-b-j gets exempted from, the enforcer, the hard nose, sharp elbow, territory marker, and provides coaching on the floor, while l-b-j can trust in spoelstra.

  11. I just watched the Thunder dismantle the Bulls in Chicago by forcing Joakim Noah to guard Ibaka in the corner, leaving the middle wide open.

    It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it?

    • Well, Ibaka is shooting 46% on mid-range jumpers this season, so he is clearly a real threat. David Lee is shooting 34% on mid-range shots. Why would Noah ever bother to cover him out there?

      • fuzzy dunlop

        +1
        The way he’s been shooting this year, Lee is a liability in terms of spacing at the 4.

      • Lee isn’t the Warriors’ stretch-five…

        • Oh, boy. You’re talking about Speights again? I think you’re the last Warriors fan who wants to die on that cross.

          • Why not? Speights is a good mid-range shooter. And maybe he could bury the 3-ball as well. (He’s a good free thrower.) Using him that way would be another match-up tool in the Warriors (potential) arsenal.

          • fuzzy dunlop

            It’s Mokur now, get with the times. He’s one of those guys whose appeal grows exponentially the further one is removed from having to watch him actually play basketball. I’d say he’s 5 more DNPs away from becoming Dirk Mowitzki.

          • cosmicballoon

            Mokur/Speights has show flashes of brilliance this season. But much of his time on the court has been garbage time, or he has been played at 4, where is is below average. Much like was the case with Bazemore, Speights has not been put in the proper situations by Jackson to succeed. We actually don’t know what Speights would do as a spread 5 because he has never (or very rarely) been played at that position.

            Feltbot, the critique of your supposition is that Speights has not shot the 3 particularly well (he has a jump shot, not a three point stroke like Dirk or KLove) and in the time he has played, he has taken a lot of midrange shots and is shooting .421. Additionally, he’s 8 for 27 on threes this season (.296). His one strength has been his free throw shooting (83 percent). His numbers say that he’s a gunner who doesn’t actually make much. If he took more shots, his percentages might slightly increase. However, for the Warriors are not willing to take that risk.

          • There’s something about watching Speights that bugs people. Maybe it just seems that he’s out of position a lot, especially on D.

            But the numbers show Speights has the same career shooting % as Jermaine O’Neal (.466), even though he averages longer shots.

            This season Speights’ rebounds per 48 are slightly better than Lee’s (13.6 v 13.5 for Lee). [Special note: Bogut is 3rd in the league this season at 18.0! Jermaine is at 17.7!] Draymond gets 10.9/48, but he’s not always playing as a big.

            On D, in protecting the rim Speights is right in the conversation with the other Warriors Cs:

            From NBA.com, Warriors Cs Opponent FG% at Rim

            Jermaine ONeil 44%
            Andrew Bogut 44.6
            Marreese Speights 47.3
            David Lee 48.3
            Draymond Green 50.6

            http://stats.nba.com/playerTrackingDefense.html?pageNo=2&rowsPerPage=100&sortField=FGP_DEFEND_RIM&sortOrder=ASC&filters=

            So as much as Speights just plain bugs a lot of people, his numbers say he’s a decent backup. And his shooting (potentially) adds an element to the Ws offense that the other bigs simply do not bring.

            It seems to me that the real issue for using Speight’s is that his long-range shooting is a benefit that the Warriors 2nd unit has not capitalized on. They simply don’t have anyone who’s willing and able to attack the rim except Crawford – and Speights+Crawford have logged very few minutes together.

            Speights ain’t as awful as he looks to a lot of people. My 2¢.

          • Thanks for those numbers, Hat. No one seems to credit the fact that Speights is an above average rebounder and rim protector at center.

            His shooting numbers this season should be thrown out. He played almost the entire season without either a point guard to get him the ball, or an established system. He was one of the top 5 best midrange shooters in the league last year, and seasons like that don’t happen by accident. Speights can shoot it.

            Fans can’t get over their impressions of him bumbling around out of position in Mark Jackson’s wretched schemes, which I admit, have made him look awful at times. And they’re unwilling to use their imaginations to visualize him in a spot-up or pick and pop stretch-five role, in a Nellieball system.

            To which I say, hey, Bazemore looked awful too. Roles matter.

            Mokur!

    • Hat,

      Speights also is poor finisher at rim because he is out of shape coming into camp. It is difficult to root for a guy who comes to camp out of shape. It is not very difficult to draw offensive foul on him when he drives. His eFG% is worst in the team, that is bad for a big guy. Best hope for warriors is that he comes in shape next year with improved shot to be in rotation. Team can use him next year with ONeal retired or a year older.

    • Why settle for Mokur? Let’s trade Mark Jackson for Andrea Bargnani.

  12. felt and others, Which is a better line up for dubs. Bogut+Green or Lee+Green. My vote would be for Bogut+Green which would be even better than Bogut+Barnes of last year playoffs.

    • Go to nbawowy. com and you can get some numbers. But the answer to your question varies greatly with the opponent and the time in the game.

      We already know that against some teams, Lee/Green is a very effective finishing unit, and Bogut/Barnes (last year) is a very effective starting unit.

      I have my doubts about Bogut/Green on the offensive side of the ball. Those doubts are compounded if Iggy is in the lineup. Bogut/Green + 3 shooters should be pretty good though.

      I would like to see more Bogut/Barnes when Warriors are facing Nellieball — Bogut erases some of Barnes defensive/rebounding deficiencies, and Barnes can help the Warriors get out on the break and spread the floor.

      Lee/Green also has great chemistry, for obvious reasons. That lineup has been great on BOTH sides of the ball.

      • felt,
        Green’s is hot of late. In his last 5 games, he is shooting at 51.6% from field and 40% from 3, 82% FT, 5 rebs and 10PPG in 20 mins per game. If he can keep with this pace in addition to the intangibles he bring, I think he is not a liability on offense anymore and makes Bogut+Green a better line up than Bogut+Barnes or Lee+Green, I think.

      • This season Bogut/Green have only played 131 minutes together w/out Lee. The team ppp with that combo is 1.074, opponent ppp .981, for a spread of .093.

        Lee/Green w/out Bogut have totaled 401 minutes together. Team ppp with that combo is 1.133, opponent ppp=1.019, for a spread of .114.

        For 100 possessions, the greater ppp spread of the Lee/Green combo translates to an improved point differential against opponents, but only by about +2 pts. over the Bogut/Green combo. For my money that’s a wash, especially with such a small sample size, varying combinations of other players, etc.

        To be honest, I’m surprised that Bogut/Green measured up so well, especially with so little time on the floor together. With more playing time, Bogut/Green would likely get more effective. On the other hand, Lee adds more diverse scoring options and a faster pace than Bogut. Which front line combo would work best would have to depend on the opponent, time of game, etc., as FB says.

        • Thanks for the stats Hat. In playoffs facing off better teams, I think Bogut at pivot as better rim protector and better rebounder to Lee might be better. I am afraid teams might be able to take advantage of Lee, who by all accounts is not a rim protector. Iggy, Draymond and Klay are good defenders but Bogut there is making them and them great defensive team.

          In the end, I think match ups should decide but we all know that Lee+Bogut will start the game under this coach but hopefully Lee+Green or Bogut+Green finish the game and NOT Bogut+Lee.

          • Again Hat, thanks for the numbers.

            I keep hearing about this rim protection stuff. Who’s more mobile? Better at getting back on defense? Better defending the pick and roll? There is more than one way to quantify defense. And there’s a lot of evidence this season that Lee with Green and Iggy is a damn fine defensive unit.

            I don’t need to ask who’s better on the offensive side of the ball.

            Which is an important question, because the name of the game isn’t simply defense, isn’t simply offense, it’s point differential.

            Lee/Green has a better point differential than Bogut/Green. That means bottom line it’s a more effective lineup, rim protection or not. Period. (I disagree strongly with Hat on this, +2 is HUGE in point differential terms.)

            And it should be pointed out that Jackson literally only plays Lee/Green in crunchtime, at the most difficult time of the game to be effective.

            Case closed.

            Not to say that Bogut/Green couldn’t be very effective, especially to start 1st and 3rd quarters against Nellieball teams. It would have been much more effective than Bogut/Lee against Portland without Aldridge.

    • felt, As impressed I am with your analysis, I am surprised by how much you undervalue the rim protection. Basketball becomes too easy for opponents if you don’t have a Bogut there. Bogut goes to bench, next possession Chris Paul drives to hoop for layup last game. As much as you like Nellie ball and how Nellie would have coached seeing Barnes as stretch 4, this is what Nellie had to say about it in one of those TK’s interviews with Nellie.

      -Q: Yep. But that was as a small-ball 4. Do you think Barnes is better off as a power forward?

      -NELSON: Not with what they have there now, with Lee… They’ve got a nice big team now. Lee would be your power forward. I’d probably use Lee as a back-up center as well. Match-ups… guys that can play more than one position, I always wanted those guys.

      Also, this is what George Karl had to say about Bogut in playoffs,

      “Bogut had missed six chances to play against Denver in the last season and a half while recovering from an ankle injury. So Saturday was a reminder for the Nuggets — whose game is based on getting to the rim — on how hard it will be to counter a shot blocker good enough to turn a game.

      “His effect is defensively,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “How he’s covering our pick-and-rolls, how he’s clogging up the paint, how we have to attack him. We don’t want him standing in the middle of the paint. We want him to have to move laterally. We had one play where Anthony Randolph went right by him. We had a couple plays where we see that his feet can be attacked. But if you’re going to let him be a tree in the middle of the paint, he’s damn good.””

      Sorry, not trying to rip you or anything but if you digest few more facts, hoping you will give even better read.

      • You apparently haven’t digested my opinion expressed over several years about the appropriate roles of Bogut and Lee, nor even Nellie’s opinion expressed above.

        Of course Bogut is extremely valuable as a starting center. He should always start, and play around 30 minutes. But he cannot effectively close games, because he can neither score nor shoot free throws in crunchtime.

        Of course Lee should not start at center, because he takes a pounding at that position. However, he is a far more effective closer at center than Bogut, because he allows the Warriors to play 5 on 5, he’s great at the foul line, and his shotblocking shortcomings are compensated for by increased team mobility and tough defense on the wings. He’s better than Bogut in crunchtime, and his stats have PROVEN that over the last two years. The Warriors’ closing Lee/Green lineup has been the Warriors best lineup, by far, over that time period.

        When Don Nelson says he would play Lee at backup center, he means exactly what I just said. He would CLOSE with Lee at center, just as he closed with Nowitzki in years past.

        He would also give Lee 2nd quarter minutes at center to run the opposing team out of the gym, but that’s another story.

        This is not something revolutionary or weird, it’s nothing but common sense. It’s also nothing that Greg Popovich and Erik Spoelstra haven’t been doing for years, following in Nellie’s footsteps. They may start with Splitter and Oden, but they will finish with Duncan and Bosh, and a stretch four.

        Hope you were able to digest this.

      • FB, the sample size of 100-odd minutes for Bogut/Green is too small for us to trust the data, especially since I didn’t hold the rest of the lineup constant. It even included a few minutes with JON playing with the two of them. I think a 2% difference in point differential is well under the measurement error here. Otherwise, well, heck yeah, two more points wins games.

        Harry, the “small” lineup with a Lee/Green frontline has saved the Ws bacon numerous times this year. You’re right, the shot blocking, rim protection and rebounding are all worse. But when it’s been used this year the Ws’ scoring improved more than their opponents’ scoring. It’s not a lineup that would always work, and it would probably be guaranteed to break down Lee and Green. But in small doses it has worked well.

        Earlier I looked up all the bigs’ rim D figures, and was surprised to see that Lee was well within the mix. Bogut’s opponents score at a rate of 44.6% at the rim. Lee’s score @ 48.3%. That’s about an 8% difference, and it is a big difference – but only at the rim. I haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure Lee does better than Bogut everywhere else. Bogut’s defensive effectiveness drops off damn quickly the further out he’s asked to cover. Lee is quicker and more mobile, and this year he’s been mostly effective on D. He’ll never be a shot blocker, but neither is Green. Like Green, Lee is a position defender. He relies on his speed and footwork, not his vertical reach.

        • Hat,

          While you are right about the small sample size I think you could look at the point differential differently. The leader in point differential is San Antonio with a + 7.3 Golden State comes in 7th at +4.6 Toronto is 10th at +3.3. 2 points worth of differential is substantial. See the whole list at: http://espn.go.com/nba/statistics/team/_/stat/team-comparison-per-game/sort/avgPointsDifference

          • It’s surprising how well regular-season point differential tracks with postseason performance. That list you linked to is likely to be the playoff finishing order, more or less.

            I have to admit I just did a quick-and-dirty comparison above, though. I didn’t keep the rest of the lineups constant. I also don’t think Lee/Green is a starting lineup, or that Bogut is a game finisher. Situations make a difference. So I don’t trust the comparison myself, and think 2 points is smaller than the margin of error in my sloppy analysis.

          • Hat, it’s not surprising at all. NBA is easily the most predictable of the four major sports.

          • EvanZ,

            On average. But wouldn’t average point differential be less reliable as a predictor of wins the wider the standard deviation in a team’s scoring? 4 losses by a point v 4 losses by 40 points each return very different results in average point differential. Both yield the same record with the same talent, but a different choice by the coach as to when to give up and pull the starters.

            On that basis, the Ws might be a lot better than their average point differential indicates, right? Or am I missing something?

          • Hat, where variance of point differential comes in to play is against underdogs.

            All else being equal, if your team is the underdog, you’d rather have greater variance in point differential. If you are the favorite, you would rather have smaller variance.

            The analogies to gambling and finance are obvious, and I’m sure Feltbot could wax philosophic about such things.

            Don Nelson’s underdog strategy relied on high variance. Mark Jackson coaches like his team is always the favorite (low variance ISO/POST as opposed to high variance outside shooting).

        • Unfortunately, if your isos and post-ups are far less efficient than your “high variance” strategies — and for the Warriors they are — then you can throw variance analysis right out the window.

          And y’all are talking so far over Mark Jackson’s head right now it’s ridiculous.

          But not, I strongly suspect, over Nellie’s.

  13. Toney Douglas got the start tonight for the Heat in Wade’s absence. Don’t know whether he guarded Jack or Waiters, but I’m guessing Waiters, since Chalmers usually takes the point guard.

  14. Bogut out with ankle “inflammation.” Very surprised the Warriors allowed the use of that word, rather than sticking with “sprain.” Doesn’t bode well.

    The ankle held up far longer than I thought it would. He’s had a nice run.

    Might be worth shutting him down until the playoffs, if the Warriors can hold the fort down.

    Pretty terrible timing with Iggy going out at the same time though.

  15. Go Mokur!

  16. Go Mo!

    A good lineup around Speights makes all the difference in the world.

    The first half lineup of Speights, Crawford, Blake and Lee and Barnes or Thompson and Green wasn’t bad at all, and we saw the results. Second half Barnes and Green were in with the first three and they faltered. There weren’t enough scorers/facilitators to open up the floor, and Barnes, of course, is a drag. The last minutes he played with the scrubs.

    I’d like to see him play more minutes with Curry. Curry would draw more defenders and open up possibilities for shots or drives or free looks under the hoop. They haven’t played much together at all.

    http://popcornmachine.net/cgi-bin/gameflow.cgi?date=20140318&game=ORLGSW

  17. @ EZ #12.

    EZ, I don’t think I made my point very well. Here’s the thing: we take avg. point differential as an indicator of performance, and turns out to be a fairly solid guide to the final playoff rankings for any given season.

    But we take avg. point differential as a measure of performance, so non-performance-related factors that skew the number would tend to invalidate its accuracy as a performance measure, right?

    We’ve seen Mark Jackasson thrown in the towel on games this season as early as mid-3rd Q, resulting in blowouts. Those big negative scores gets factored in to the team’s average point spread.

    We’ve also seen MJax let a big lead dissipate by running his weak 2nd unit in Q4.

    Wouldn’t both those coaching decisions tend to invalidate average point difference as a pure performance measure? Is it possible that the Ws are better than their ranking on average point diff.? Would it be a more accurate performance measure if we simply tossed out the blowouts, or discounted the loss margin? Just wonderin.

    • You’re point has merit, and yet these outliers seem to even out enough over the course of every season to make regular season point-differential the best forecaster of the future champion in existence.

      More particularly, yes, it’s possible that the Warriors are better than their point-differential. Especially if Mark Jackson proves more willing to make the necessary adjustments in the playoffs than he has been in the regular season.

      • ” regular season point-differential the best forecaster of the future champion in existence.”

        Dang. That says the Clips make the conference finals. I hate those guys. And the Ws finish about like they did last year.

    • Hat, I got your point. Of course, who’s to say MJax changes his ways in the post-season?

      At any rate, if I were a betting man (and I’m generally not), I wouldn’t simply use team point differential. I’d probably rely more on something like RAPM and just project playoff minutes. That would mostly alleviate the issues you mentioned, although it won’t make MJ a better coach!

      • So assuming MJax playoff coaching is consistent with his regular season coaching he’ll get essentially the same from every player in the big show, and their regular season RAPM reliably predicts their performance. OK.

        That would also explain how the Ws made it past the first round last year, better than last year’s point differential ranking would have predicted. A big, unpredictable change in lineup/strategy made the regular season a less accurate model for predicting playoff performance.

        Unfortunately, barring injury, MJax is one of the most predictable coaches in the NBA. Assuming everyone is more or less healthy, that means no playoff surprises this year. By the numbers, it’s one series and out.

        • party pooper

          • We grumps call ourselves realists.

            If we’re going to use past history to predict future behavior and results, we have to go all the way on that. Jackson starts The Starting Five. End of Q1 Jackson subs in the 2nd unit. Early Q2 Jackson has panic attack and re-inserts starting 5. No strategic adjustments until halftime.

            Q3 Jackson starts The Starting Five. End of Q3, subs come in, panic ensues, Bogut sits, Warriors run small, Curry (or Curry/Thompson) takes over the game and Ws win. Or not, and Ws lose.

            Where’s my chisel, I’ll just chip all that into stone right now.

          • I’m not disagreeing. That’s why I though using average point differential in the first place made sense. It is what it is.

  18. Toney Douglas started again last night, put up some good numbers, and looks like from the box score limited Brandon Knight as well.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=400489964

    MJax is a motivator, which is not an insignificant contribution. And he can be credited, I believe, for the improved defense thru that motivation effort.

    But is he a hard worker? Does he study the films and take the time to figure out how to use his guys to their strengths and develop plays or a system to do so? I have a feeling his statement “I’m a flow guy” extends to his personal work effort as well.