Huge win for the Warriors in what can aptly be described as the first playoff game of the season. Both teams desperately needed this game.
The game was so big, that Mark Jackson actually let the Warriors play. He is, in general, a much better coach when his big man options are limited. But he’s also to be credited for limiting the isolation offense in this game, and trusting his great passing team to create.
One big only, Draymond Green at the four.
Pick and roll after pick and roll after pick and roll. Relentless, all game long. (Wouldn’t it be nice to see this with David Lee playing?)
Scoring centers, busting the Curry blitz.
Jordan Crawford, taking over the second unit offense.
My version of the Warriors true identity.
Curry: Have the doubts about whether he’s a closer been answered yet? For my money he and Kevin Durant stand alone at the top of the league in their ability to create their own shot at the end of a game.
What about the doubts about whether he’s a point guard? We haven’t heard a lot about Curry’s turnovers lately. Last night he had only 1, against 10 assists, while playing through the most ferocious blitzing of the season. He was doubled on virtually every high pick.
O’Neal: A beautifully efficient game, and the biggest reason for that is that Mark Jackson used him primarily in pick and roll, rather that posting him up. How many times was he found completely unguarded under the basket?
The biggest difference between O’Neal and Bogut is that O’Neal WANTS THE BALL in the lane. He’s a willing target for the pick and roll.
The second biggest difference is that O’Neal is willing to take the ball to contact. Seeks it out, in fact. He wants to get to the line.
What a contrast to Bogut. We all know the deal there. Like Andris Biedrins, Bogut is mortally afraid to go to the line. Which sometimes causes him to avoid rolling in the pick and roll. Sometimes causes him to play hot potato when he gets the ball under the basket. And definitely lead to him developing that running floater he’s been shooting, rather than powering to the hoop.
O’Neal busted the Curry blitz last night, to the tune of 20 points. Convincingly demonstrating what having a scoring center can do for Stephen Curry’s game, and the Warriors.
If I were Mark Jackson, I would have some very interesting decisions awaiting me in the post-season. Particularly in crunch time.
Thompson: While struggling to get it going, took it to the rack relentlessly. And then, as we saw, came alive from three in the biggest moments of the game.
And what a floor game. Guarded Monta Ellis for most of the game. Made plays for others off the dribble (5 assists). Rebounded.
I happen to think Klay has a real talent for rebounding, despite his low totals. I think his defensive assignments, which generally take him away from the basket, are primarily responsible for those low totals.
I’d really like to see what he could do playing small forward. Take last night, for instance. Is there a good reason to have Klay guard Monta Ellis, and Iggy guard 5th option Shawn Marion? Mark Jackson does realize that Iggy is both smaller and quicker than Klay, right? And despite Klay’s talent for guarding point guards, that Iggy could guard Monta better?
It’s possible that Jackson is simply protecting Iggy’s hamstring. But I don’t think that’s it. Even before Iggy was injured, Jackson preferred him at small forward in matchups where I think Iggy and Klay should have switched assignments.
Monte Poole uttered the All-Star word last night. Others will follow. We’re watching a great player come of age.
Green: Speaking of fabulous floor games. Green did a bit of everything last night. Defense, rebounding. Hit his only three.
After getting torched by Nowitzki from three in the first half, he really tightened the clamps in the second half, continually running Dirk off the line, and forcing him to give up the ball.
But what was most impressive to me last night was his role in busting the Curry blitz. Green frequently made himself available in the lane, and from there made several great passes to O’Neal under the basket, and Klay cutting to the basket. 6 assists.
42 minutes last night, to Barnes 13. Has Mark Jackson finally come to his senses? Has Joe Lacob finally averted his baleful glare? Has Draymond Green finally beat out Barnes to assume his rightful place in the Warriors’ rotation?
I wouldn’t be so sure. When Bogut and Lee return, and those power forward minutes dry up, the only way to get Green 30 minutes will be to play him at small forward, and sit Barnes for good.
See that happening?
Mokur: 9 rebounds in 17 minutes. Even if you hate how he looks offensively, recognize.
Like O’Neal, Mark Jackson used Speights frequently in the pick and roll. With mixed results. Mokur’s forays to the rim can only be described as adventurous, with a wild array of (attempted) finishes, when he’s not stripped on the way.
For the hundredth time, I’m going to question why Mark Jackson is so insistent on playing to Mokur’s weaknesses, and not his strengths. Mokur is a pick and pop player. One of the best big man shooters in the NBA, over a period of several years. Why won’t Mark Jackson trust him to shoot?
It would not only help Mokur’s game, but the Warriors game as a whole. Wouldn’t letting Mokur shoot on pick and pop help open up the entire floor?
I wonder what Mark Jackson would do if he had world champion Mehmet Okur himself. Force him to post up? Roll to the rim?
Here’s the great Jim Barnett at 8:25 4th quarter last night, in a slightly different context, after Klay was forced wide on a drive because of a cluttered lane:
If they take Speights out of the middle and bring Nowitzki with him, Klay Thompson can drive on Vince Carter and score.
Love you, Barnett. And shame on Joe Lacob for pushing you out.
Crawford and Blake: Am I mistaken in thinking that Blake was used mostly off the ball last night?
Enough to make you question the entire Bazemore for Blake transaction. If you weren’t already.
I’m just not sure that Blake is a very good second unit point guard. Those guys, ideally, should be uptempo playmakers. Sixth men. Like DJ Augustin, whom the Warriors apparently passed on.
Blake simply can’t make anything happen off the dribble. He’s not quick enough to get in the paint and finish. And he’s simple to guard in pick and roll — switch and stay with the big man.
Jordan Crawford is a good second unit point guard. A sixth man, who looks for his own shot, but can find open teammates.
Unfortunately, he’s now out of position, and being guarded by the good defender.
Barnes: 13 minutes? Zero shots? Zero isolations?
The time for puncturing the hype and the myths is over.
Words are no longer required.
This fight’s been called.