Got the opportunity to join my buddy Micah Brown courtside for this Warriors — Clippers game 6. Micah goes back to the days of Bill Russell and the Cow Palace, is one of the Warriors’ longest season ticket holders and most loyal fans, and knows everything there is to know about the game of basketball. No one in the world I’d rather take in a game with.
Pace: After regressing in the last game, the Warriors once again picked up the pace in this one. They even pushed it a couple times after made baskets, Curry memorably going coast to coast after a Jordan dunk one time.
14 fastbreak points is not enough, though. If the Warriors are going to win game 7, they’ve got to get out and go.
Officiating: In Mark Jackson’s defense, it is really hard to run when a game is officiated as tightly as this one. All of the foul calls slow the game to a crawl, with the ball being inbounded, rather than rebounded.
This was a horribly officiated game, on many levels. Whatever happened to the concept of a playoff foul? Of letting the big men play in the playoffs?
It should be noted that calling the game this tightly works strongly against the Warriors’ interest. As the smaller, short-handed team, they are badly in need of leniency when wrestling around the basket. And as the team which relies on the fastbreak and the open court to free up its superstar, the endless trips to the free throw line are deadly.
Most sportswriters severely underrate the impact that officiating can have on a playoff game. Coaches and players know better, but can only mutter about it under their breaths. The style in which game 7 is officiated will go a long way towards determining its outcome.
Don’t think the league office doesn’t know this.
Turnovers and the Demise of Pick and Roll: A very big reason why the Warriors managed to win this game is that they only turned the ball over 8 times. Curry himself only had 2.
It was clear from watching him that this was a point of focus — he took far less risk, in particular in splitting the double team.
But note that Mark Jackson made a major adjustment to help Curry avoid turnovers. Less pick and roll with David Lee, meaning less pick and roll involving the extremely long DeAndre Jordan. And more pick and roll with not only Draymond Green — who sticks his picks longer than Lee, because he’s less of a roll threat — but also with Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala.
Curry was still blitzed, but as he mentioned post-game, he found it easier to turn the corner, and also to pass over the top.
I’m sad at the early demise of the Curry/Lee pick and roll, though, and the far less efficient offense that has resulted. Doc Rivers has been conceded this battle. Too easily? I wonder whether a different head coach might have found better adjustments. Or been able to live with the turnovers.
A coach like Mike D’Antoni, for instance.
4th Quarter Isos: I didn’t hate these last night. Context is everything, and in this particular 4th quarter, Curry/Lee pick and roll was unavailable.
Klay Thompson and Jordan Crawford were the primary targets. Klay was clutch over Redick. Crawford failed to hit his shots over Collison. But note how successfully he backed down Collison, to create 10 footers for himself. And note that, unlike Harrison Barnes, Jordan Crawford is normally extremely efficient from midrange. This is his wheelhouse, and I am all over Jackson’s decision to use him this way.
Speaking of Barnes, he got the final iso of the game, and I was all NoNoNoNoNoNo YES! And he buried those free throws. Nice job, Mr. Barnes.
The Press Conference: Did you all catch this extraordinary bit of Mark Jackson theater? “This team won’t be here next year.” “Someone’s lying.”
I can’t say I’ve ever seen a coach make a playoff game all about him in quite this fashion. Extraordinary. And it appears from this performance that Jackson is utterly certain that he’s finished on the Warriors.
I can’t wait for the game 7 performance.
(On a side note, and for what it’s worth, I was seated directly across from Joe Lacob last night, and his body language was absolutely terrible. He seemed completely morose the entire evening. I understand he’s mourning the latest collapse of his signature signing. But even so….)
Draymond Green: Because of the struggles of the headliners, Curry, Klay and Lee, it was apparent to all that this was his game. Another monster performance.
From my courtside perspective, his rebounding was spectacular. Because frequently, as the ball neared the rim, I couldn’t even see Green. My view of him was completely eclipsed by the bigger Clipper bodies in the paint. But then, as the ball came off, Green would suddenly soar into sight, and snatch the ball out of the air. It was incredibly dramatic, and the crowd around me went nuts every time.
Green doesn’t have the hops of Charles Barkley. But he has his knack of being the first off the ground.
And maybe just a little of his toughness.
David Lee: I also got to witness at close quarters the battle royale between Lee and DeAndre Jordan in the paint. David and Goliath, indeed. Jordan got his rebounds in this game, but Lee did a terrific job of keeping him away from the offensive boards, and the alley-oops. And took a hell of a beating in the process.
He was of course denied the opportunity for payback by the shift of the Warriors offense away from him.
If you’re going to compare Lee and Green by the defense they play on Blake Griffin, you must start by recognizing that Mark Jackson helps Green with double teams, but hangs Lee out to dry in single coverage.
And why is that exactly, Mark Jackson? In particular, why did you do that in crunchtime, when Lee had 5 fouls and was a sitting duck? Griffin has not exactly been efficient in beating the Warriors’ double teams. In fact, you could say he’s been extremely inefficient. So why not double there?
It could be that Mark Jackson has been influenced by three years of watching David Lee play extremely good post defense against Griffin and Love and Aldridge.
But I don’t think the David Lee we’re seeing right now is the same guy we’re used to in the regular season. I think this David Lee is playing on one leg.
It would be nice if Mark Jackson found a way to keep him on the court.
Klay Thompson: Where did he go? I think Mark Jackson forgot to call his number last night. Jackson tried to rectify that at the start of the second half, calling an iso, and using him as Curry’s pick and roll partner. But he was already ice cold.
Thompson’s size is a big edge against the Clippers’ undersized backcourt. Jackson needs to remember that in game 7. 4 shots in the first half is not enough.
Iggy: Hit a big crunchtime shot, but the Warriors aren’t paying him $12 million to play JJ Redick even. He needs to DOMINATE this matchup, and that simply didn’t happen in this game.
And he needs to give his free throws a chance to go in. Every one of Iggy’s missed free throws last night bricked off the back rim. This has nothing to do with form. It has to do with brains, and Feltbot’s Law. Short is better than long.
Does no one on the tattered remains of Mark Jackson’s coaching staff know this? Maybe Draymond Green can whisper the law in his ear. Green has figured it out.
Mokur: 12 and 6 with a block in 12 minutes. +5. Hate on, haters.
If I were Mark Jackson, I would seriously contemplate starting Speights in game 7, to bear the brunt of Blake Griffin’s opening wrath. He’s not afraid of Griffin, and doesn’t give him an inch.
Easy boys, I’m not suggesting limiting Draymond Green’s minutes. Just adjusting where he gets them.
To keep him on the court, capisce?
As for Mokur’s shot, I must confess he’s not worthy of the name I’ve bestowed right now. I got a close up look at his shot last night, and it’s a mess. He’s squeezing at the top, aiming it. His free throws remain beautiful rainbows, but his outside shots are errant darts.
Let it go, Mokur! Let it fly!
Barnes: The injury to O’Neal forced Barnes into more minutes against the bigs. And although that’s a tall task for him, I thought he performed admirably. In general, I much prefer him defending big than defending against guards. He’s so much better as a stretch-four than as anything else.
Jermaine O’Neal: Sorry to see him go down. But it’s not like it was unexpected, going against this frontline.
He gave his heart and soul to this Warriors team this season, and far more great play than we had any right to expect. Signing him with the expectation that he could be the primary backup center, and last out the season, was extraordinarily naive on the part of Joe Lacob.
Although not nearly so naive as trading for Andrew Bogut, and re-signing him for 3 years and $36 million.
The Sixth Man: Did you happen to notice that Jordan Crawford was brought into the game to play POINT GUARD, while Steve Blake was benched? Regular readers of this blog know that I have been arguing for this move since… well, since the day the trades were made.
And did you happen to notice that the bench unit had a positive +/- for the first time since… well, since the first time?
Jordan Crawford can create off the dribble, Steve Blake cannot. Crawford can exploit mismatches. Blake cannot. Crawford can push the tempo. Blake cannot. Crawford can EXPLODE. Blake cannot.
I wrote before this series began, that if Mark Jackson wanted to give his team a realistic chance to win, he must take the reins off Jordan Crawford.
AND RAISE THE VARIANCE.
This will never be more true than in the upcoming game 7.
The Warriors have had a 6th man ever since midseason. Mark Jackson and the godawful, misbegotten, Kent Bazemore for Steve Blake trade turned the Warriors 6th man into their 9th man. Buried him.
It appears that in this, the likely next-to-last game of the season, with all his lumbering centers unavailable to him, and Nellieball the last recourse, Mark Jackson finally saw the light with regard to Jordan Crawford.
But just in case, I’ll frame one last plea to him, in terms I think he might understand: Mark Jackson,
LET YOUR PEOPLE GO!