As the Cube Turns: Warriors 110 Spurs 99

This may have been a great win for the Warriors players. It may have helped their psyche a bit, to see the chinks in the armor of this great Spurs team. And boy are there chinks. Chinks you could drive a tank through. Chinks so big that you wonder if the World Champs will ever get healthy and organized enough to become a factor come playoff time. 

But let’s face it, it wasn’t a significant win in any other respect. On a tough road back to back, after leaving everything out on the court the previous night in a tough loss to the Clippers, the Spurs simply didn’t show up for this game.

Not the Real Spurs: I half expected Pop to rest his starters out of the gate, but he waited until the second half. Is that what he’s been doing in nationally televised games this year? I haven’t been paying attention. Maybe that $100,000 fine last season had an effect.

At any rate, not the real Spurs. TP and Duncan could barely move, and weren’t interested in trying. Danny Green — who along with Duncan has been carrying the Spurs this year — has a sprained ankle, which forced him off the court early in the first quarter to get re-taped. Splitter still hobbling. Belinelli and Mills trying to work themselves back. As is last year’s MVP, Kawhi Leonard, who is fighting through a bad ligament injury in his wrist which kept him out a month and has severely affected his shooting. Except against Harrison Barnes, of course.

Not the Real Popovich: It’s very easy to tell when Greg Popovich is serious about beating the Warriors, isn’t it? He tells you by how he matches up. In the playoffs it will be Leonard on Klay, Danny Green on Curry, and Tony Parker hidden on Harrison Barnes. Remember?

Didn’t see it.

And he will play The Popovich Defense, the single best defense ever devised for containing Stephen Curry. If you’re interested in knowing what it is, check out my recaps of Games Two and Three of the Warriors-Spurs playoff series of two years ago. My Game Three recap in particular contains the blueprint for how Pop will attack the Warriors, when he is serious about beating the Warriors.

He wasn’t serious last night. Pop is just too crafty to show his hand in the regular season to Steve Kerr. Particularly on a night when he doesn’t have his horses.

As the Cube Turns: It may have been difficult to gauge the relative strength of these two teams by last night’s game, but there were nonetheless some interesting developments to note. Steve Kerr made a very significant adjustment to his Lacob’s Cube. Did you notice?

For the first time all season, Kerr brought David Lee into the game early in the first and third quarters, to play with Stephen Curry. Up until last night, Kerr has waited until the start of the second quarter, when Curry left the court, to bring Lee in.

And for the first time all season, we got to see Curry and Lee play pick and roll with a spread floor. We even got to see, for the first time all season, David Lee get to play some center with Draymond Green as his wingman, in the lineup that devastated the league the last two seasons.

The pick and roll didn’t kick in, in earnest, until the third quarter. And wasn’t that when the Warriors blew the game wide open? Why yes, it was.

Was this a one-off? Did Kerr make this move because he didn’t like the way Draymond Green was matching up against the Spurs big front line? Or does this signal a permanent shift in the Warriors rotation? Stay tuned.

Boris Diaw: If Kevin Durant were healthy, I would expect the Warriors first round opponent to be the Spurs, not the Thunder. But since Durant’s foot is not healthy, and may never be healthy this season, I’m not so sure.

But if it so happens that the Warriors face off with the Spurs in the first round, you can expect to see a heavy dose of Boris Diaw. As was evident last night, he presents a nightmarish matchup problem for the Warriors. He overpowers Draymond down low, and pulls David Lee out to the three point line.

Great, great player, and smart, smart, smart.

A championship piece. Pop picked him up for peanuts.

Rebounding: Is it worth noting that in a game in which they didn’t show up, the Spurs outrebounded the Warriors?

Is it worth noting that the Warriors are 20th in the league in rebounding rate this season? Pulling down only 49.3% of available rebounds? (Last season they were 10th in the league, at 50.8%.)

Is it worth noting that with Warriors opponents shooting only 42.2%, their rebounding rate is even worse than it seems? Defensive rebounding opportunities have literally been raining down on the Warriors’ heads this season.

The Warriors have sacrificed rebounding for starting-unit Nellieball, we all know that. And it has worked like gangbusters. In the regular season. Can this style win in the playoffs, when the game slows down, and the opposing coaches start to game-plan? Can it win against the monsters of the West?

I believe it can. Have always maintained it can. And still maintain that it can, even if I quibble with Kerr about when and how it should be deployed.

But is it worth noting that in the past, all the major Warriors writers vociferously maintained that Nellieball can’t win in the playoffs? (Every single one of them. At the top of their voices. It was literally a point of religion.)

And is it worth noting that Joe Lacob always maintained the exact same thing? In fact, didn’t he call it “The Sins of the Past”?

Some very amusing things are going on in Warriors land right now. There is an ideological divide between management and the coaching staff. The Warriors writers have changed herds.

And the Sins of the Past are marching towards a championship.

74 Responses to As the Cube Turns: Warriors 110 Spurs 99

  1. Here we go. Thanks. Hope you’re right about the change, though I’d be more optimistic if we saw it against a fully charged Spurs. And we may not.

  2. Is it just me or does Parker look like he gained weight?

  3. This juxtaposition is misleading (although it may have been accidental):

    We even got to see, for the first time all season, David Lee get to play some center with Draymond Green as his wingman, in the lineup that devastated the league the last two seasons.

    The pick and roll didn’t kick in, in earnest, until the third quarter. And wasn’t that when the Warriors blew the game wide open?

    Just to be clear, Lee and Green did not play together in the third quarter. Lee’s “wingman” as “the Warriors blew the game wide open” was Harrison Barnes.

    It was a notable change in the rotation, though — and, for the record, one that I specifically predicted a few days ago:

    Eventually, though, the rotation will tighten up. In particular, I think you’ll see either Speights or Lee drop out, and the other play almost exclusively at C, as Barnes picks up more minutes at backup PF.

    • Incidentally, someone asked Kerr after the game about this exact scenario — Barnes taking over backup PF minutes, and Lee/Speights having to compete for playing time at backup C — and Kerr confirmed that was the direction he was going in.

      He credited both Mo and Lee for how well they’ve played (and added that he’d like to be able to play Ezeli more), but said the team is at its best when either Draymond or Barnes is the PF.

  4. Didn’t realize the Spurs had a complete team of doppelgangers. Amazing really. Don’t think the Ws players did either, but I bet they feel good, regardless of the tainted victory.

    • The key players, of course, did very well. If you want to be critical, and of course I do, the unit that closed out the last half of the 4th. quarter put up negative numbers. Note the +10 for Joseph, Williams, and Bonner, who played the whole quarter:

    • the SA coaches train all twelve guys to run the same plays and options with any personnel. if they import a new guy and he can’t adapt he gets cut or shipped. their development also increases the value of their players, like their draft pick g.hill, or the bargain free agents green and mills. of course they have reconstituted vets as well, belinelli and diaw. health and fitness will be their big obstacle this season. they also have more investment in medical, conditioning, physiotherapy staff than any team.

  5. Lee played 8 possessions with Speights but not Barnes or Green

    12 poss with Draymond but not Speights or Barnes.

    13 poss with Barnes but not Draymond or Speights.

    • Also worth noting: The possessions with Barnes and Speights were played with Curry at point. The possessions with Green were played with Livingston at point.

      So I was perhaps a little overenthusiastic in my post about sighting the Warriors’ best lineup. It didn’t happen.

      • over the season, when barnes is on the court and curry isn’t, they’re at a deficit, with a singular exception (only 40 min. of barnes’ 1500+), livingston, iguodala, speights, thompson. by one factor, if not for his shooting, barnes is similar to ezeli — both are dependent on the four other guys having superior ball skills.

        • +100 That just about sums up Barnes for the Warriors. He did play one of his 5 best games of the season last night….including stepping into a passing lane for a steal.

  6. Karl in Sac:

    You might well ask yourself why Karl wanted to join this train wreck of a team in particular?

    I think the answer lies in the singular vision of its owner, Vivek Ranadive, to run, run, run. A match made in heaven.

    • good to hear cousins shut the naysayers up with their speculation they’d be incompatible. one very visible test for karl’s impact — how much they (including cousins) improve transition defense.

  7. footnote to the UT-OK trade — k.perkins not in UT’s plans at all, getting a buy out with Cle his likely next stop. UT apparently didn’t want kanter sticking around after June and would get nothing at that point when he signs elsewhere, making the little remaining from the deal better than nothing.

  8. Felt, your post just fussed on Lee and resounding, not I how warriors won.

    Warriors won the game in 12 minutes stretch from end of half to start of 3 rd quarter with starters and no Lee.

  9. Enes Kanter goes for 10 and 13 against Al Jefferson in his first game as a Thunder. DJ Augustin chips in 12. OKC beats Hornets on the road without Durant.

    • Think Brooks will pull a Kerr and bench Durant when he returns?

      • I know you’re joking, but the real question is whether he benches Steven Adams when he returns. Kanter can not only play, he can shoot, and he’d do wonders for the Thunder’s spacing. Can you imagine Westbrook and Durant with an open middle of the floor?

        I’m really worried about Durant. Wouldn’t be surprised if he has to shut it down for the season.

        • A lingering foot issue is just about the worst thing for a 6-11 forward who has to play defense on the perimeter. Durant should take a month off right now and hope his ‘mates can make the playoffs without him.

          • They said it was expected pain from the surgery, but you have to question any official report you hear about health.

    • Thankfully the Warriors are running transition offense before getting into half court sets.

    • Actually, a levelheaded assessment by Smith.

      “It was tough from a mental standpoint. You start second-guessing yourself and your talent to a certain point.

      You have to question any system that is not built around available talent. Hard to believe anyone would want to go to the Knicks now anyway, but also to play under this system. Jackson always started with superior talent at the other teams. This may be the final word on the triangle.

  10. I’ve always wondered about this (it’s that time of year). Are fines assessed for technicals tax deductible—a business expense?

    • those fines might be turned over to charities, and become deductible as donations. if you can afford the accountants most players can, they’ll probably find deductions for you.

  11. Don’t know if you remember me at one point saying that the Rockets were missing Isaiah Canaan at backup pg. I saw something in him early in the season. Sam Hinkie has just made him the starting pg of the Sixers.

  12. When my brother first told me Kerr was the Warriors new coach I just scrunched up my face.
    Steve Kerr!!?!? He sounded like MJax redux, albeit paler, a TV guy without previous coaching experience, and another ex-player I didn’t like back in the day. I had really been hoping Stan Van Gundy would be the guy, and was ticked at Lacob for being such a little emperor. SVG now 17-10 since starting to put the team he wanted out on the floor. I believe he has full control over personnel decisions, and it’s interesting to wonder what would be going on with the Warriors right now, if the Lacobs et al had been capable of ceding a bit of control and letting a guy like SVG have a shot at his cube. But I guess it wasn’t meant to be. And yes, I am hyperaware the Dubs are 43-9…

    Kawhi Leonard is a great defender. Maybe Klays worst match-up. It’s like hes got 8 arms coming at you. Of course the Spurs will be tougher in the playoffs. Pops the master and they’re the Champs until someone knocks them off. Wouldn’t want to have to win more than ONE game in San Antone in a 7 game series. So if we butt heads against them at least we’ll have four of seven at home, if it goes that long.

    Alec Guiness born in 1914. Had a brain fart wondering if he was still alive, cause he was pretty old even in ’77. I gotta admit only other movie I saw him in was “bridge over river Kwai. Pretty standard but entertaining. He’ll always be Obi-wan to me, tho he disparaged the role. He cut a % deal of the directors take and it made him mucho dinero.

    • Full control over personnel—you have to wonder if Kerr hasn’t been given a directive from above over the play of youknowwho. Holiday, however, was a Myers and Lacob Jr. joint. Kerr had to have stepped in with Barbosa. And of course he had no say over other picks, made before he took the helm.

    • Alec Guiness will always be George Smiley to me…

      • ?
        I don’t like to Google everything. I’m gonna ponder over this for a bit, see if it comes to mind.

        • john le carre, cold war British MI-6 novels, made into brit t.v. mini-series, not feature films and probably why you missed them. first was “Tinker, Tailor…Spy”. gary oldhmam portrayed the same character in the recent film.

          guinness was also quite good in a number of brit crime comedies, in a film version of a graham greene novel (also cold war stuff), and another highlight in his serious stuff was “Tunes of Glory”.

          • Somewhat in this genre is a nifty fiction tale, “Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman”, written by a Brit (Horning?). I read it years ago. Moto, you’d enjoy it. Its a simple story of two friends, Bunny and his rakish pal Raffles. Don’t google it or you may ruin one of the best endings to a story you’ll ever read.

  13. Possibly of interest, Draymond Green goes off on Matt Steinmetz over tweet:

    • warriorsablaze

      Steinmetz is a clown… so there’s that.

      Rarely does he have analysis that isn’t routed in basketball ideas from the 50’s… he led the internet in “Curry’s not a pg” garbage a few years ago… he’s had to walk it back heavily over the past 2 seasons.

    • Nice advice from both, perhaps of relevance here:

      Steinmetz: Don’t make common mistake of confusing objectivity with hate.

      Green: if your going to be objective dissect what you’re watching before you do…

    • too many fans and pundits refuse to grasp the notion of auction value. they’ll understand it when it applies to something inanimate like a piece of real estate or a (sometimes forged) painting, but not with elite level athletes. it only takes one team out of the thirty to value d’mond at 50 m./four years, and that will be his ‘worth’, the other mind games and whinging about budget and lux taxes are moot.

      steinmetz b.t.w. advocated drafting green before all the combine scouting, as did riley of course. butler in Chi is another player who stayed in college longer and still didn’t convince most of the ‘experts’.

  14. Self-promotion time, if anyone is interested:

    Actually I wrote this about five years ago, when Jobs was alive, but it has recently reappeared. I try to come to terms with living in Silicon Valley, and, of course, fail. It might stir some thoughts from others about living in the place, and I’d be curious to hear them.

    I don’t like saying “the Silicon Valley,” which I understand is correct. Will take opinions here as well.

    • ++ rgg. Just read it all on my phone. I like your writing style and the free flow association it leaves me with
      Doesn’t make me wanna relocate to Cupertino, but now I feel like I kno the town a bit. Shades of SF, too, though I’m in GGP right now and it’s beautiful. Gonna have to skip Dubs game

      I Remember taking COBOL at CSUchico. My Chinese friend wrote all my programs and I wrote all his sisters English assignments! It was interseting becuz her English was so bad I had to intentionally butcher the essays. Still think about u, Eva. Think cobols a dead language anyway. I’m too old for cutting edge tech geekiness and the nuts and bolts bore me to tears anyway

      You mentioned your novel before and I was curious how it did. My bro had one published with Ballantine, with full page ad campaigns in the USA TODAY and local papers, etc but it bombed. He always griped that it was common knowledge that the publishers ripped off the authors re royalties. He still gets a check for 10 or 20 $ in the mail now, 15 yrs later.

      • Thanks for reading, rzzz. I’d be curious to see more essays like it just to get a feel for this place. I don’t make it up to SF much now—used to hang out a lot—and may not recognize many places.

        Publishing is just a mess now in so many ways, overcrowded with submissions and fickle. They just won’t take a chance with anything, and I want to push. Instead they look for what they think they can market and demand lowest common denominator work. I got great reception for my first novel, where I pulled out all the stops, but agents and editors were frank they couldn’t get it through. I couldn’t get many to even read my second. Am debating a third novel, but it would be a waste of time.

        My other beef is that there haven’t been many novels the past decades I especially want to read. Literature is dead.

        Publishers have a real problem, though. It’s just too damn hard to get anyone’s attention to plug a book.

      • Chad Harbach wrote this essay about the writing scene:

        Harbach wrote The Art of Fielding. Did anyone here read it? He got a hefty advance and was plugged like crazy. Looks like fluff to me, from what I’ve heard and read. Not curious to read it.

  15. warriorsablaze

    Curry out tonight with a sore ankle from last game (gulp). Interested to see what Kerr does. Does Iggy get the start as the pseudo-point guard or does Livingston get the nod?

    • warriorsablaze

      …. and it looks like Livingston.

      This game is likely to be an offensive bummer. Hope we can still grind out a win.

    • probably livingston. iguodala is actually the floor leader when reserves are out there, and kerr probably wants to minimize the time livingston plays without thompson on the court to balance the spacing.

    • They just showed a replay of his injury. He only landed a bit hard and awkwardly, but didn’t roll the ankle. You have to wonder if it hasn’t been tender for some time.

      • warriorsablaze

        Kerr told one of the beat writers earlier today that it was a foot, not the ankle… so I guess we’ll just have to wait for more info to trickle out.

  16. Should be very interesting with Livingston starting. Unfortunately, I can’t watch live.

    • warriorsablaze

      It’ll be interesting to see if we can generate any offense. Gonna be tough to win if any of Lee, Klay, Barnes, Iggy, or Green struggle on that end.

      Without Curry warping the D, Klay, Barnes, and Green especially will be looking at tougher looks.

      • bloodsweatndonuts

        How do you score with Livingston and Bogut together? It’s going to be 3 on 5 with Roy Hibbert being able to camp out down low to guard the paint if either Bogut or Livingston get close enough to the bucket to attempt a shot.

        Hopefully I’m oversimplifying.

        • warriorsablaze

          I can’t watch the game… but it seems they figured something out in the first quarter…. 40 pts on 57% shooting. We’ll see if they can maintain.

        • No, you were totally right and hit the nail on the head.

  17. Pacerz:

    Thought Klay might yet have pulled this one out. And against the Pacers, without Curry, maybe they eke out a win.

    You see the advantage of Kerr’s passing system. It essentially takes the ball out of Livingston’s hands and allows the team to function nonetheless. But on a night without Curry, they have to find their other offense. Iguodala was about it, who did fine and was aggressive. Barbosa had a burst, though needed more spacing from other players to be effective.

    The other thing that might help keep Livingston on the floor is a scoring center, and this would have been a game to get Bogut going. But they didn’t go to him until a few times second half and he turned down what opportunities he had.

    Barnes cannot finish when someone is in front of him. He takes his eyes off the basket every time. Didn’t even draw a foul.

    6 shots for Lee.

    I don’t understand why they haven’t gotten Holiday going all those games where they had leads. He might have stepped up.

    Speights has bailed them out in the past. 3 minutes.

    There just aren’t other options on the bench.

    You would have loved the organ music, rzzzz.

    Scared to look at the game flow.

    • Kerr is blaming the loss on execution. . . .

    • cannot play SI and bogut at the same time. Kills the offense. Been loving stuckey forever. If he was even 6’5 he’d be an all star. How much would it have cost to get him as your backup PG?

  18. Giving Kerr & Gentry/Adams credit, they must be seeing what they have in Livingston from all angles… Not sure what else you need to see, and we’re not privy to what’s been going on in practices (have mo and holiday been sucking?)…

    In any rational utility maximizing universe, assuming you have no curry and your starting 5 matchup starts with hibbert, you gotta go:

    Bogut, Draymond, Iguodala, Thompson + Whoever that’s not Livingston (Barbosa prob can’t guard the 1, so if Klay’s not guarding the 1, Holiday’s length is useful, and he can shoot past the freaking freethrow line)

    2nd five I’m thinking SI and Dlee PNR with felt’s suggestion of Mo in the corner and Barbosa + HB. Run some plays on this squad for HB to hit the corner three. (He had 27 min in this game and I only saw 2 or 3 corner threes attempted).

    Kerr/Gentry’s offense sucked this game, period.

  19. I’m ticked off too Feltbot.
    I didn’t see the game but my brother gave me a detailed recap. I trust his opinions on the Warriors more than any writer or media sourse.

    Barnes follows up his rare “good” game by disappearing, on a night tailor-made to show his worth and skills, with no Steph. But it was Klay vs Goliath.
    He’s one of the worst starting 3s in the league. He’ll tease u with a hilite, but doesnt do anything consistently well. Like hit a 3 when we need it.

    I’m used to think it was all Net chatter, but now wonder if there reaally is an edict from above to start him. Do kerr, Gentry and adams see something in him? I don’t..
    I’m aware we’re 43-10, but would HB start for for Pop or SVG? :/

    F no

    • Fair criticism but everyone not named Klay including coaches share the criticism too.

      • Barnes was -15. Worst on the team tonight. I think Kerr must be preserving Lee. 12 rebounds in 18 minutes…What would he have done in 28 minutes?

        • How about not playing offense only players like Barbosa and Lee together and non scorers like green, Iguodala, Livingston, Bogut not play together and play Holiday instead of Rush and play Speights at C, not Lee.

    • the numbers strongly suggest that barnes has little effect on the game if curry isn’t on the court.

    • It’s not so much his missed shots, though as I said above he doesn’t finish well when faced—look at his eyes, his lack of concentration. Rather, it’s the shots he doesn’t take. I’ve forgotten when, but in one possession he was in the corner guarded by a larger defender, and Barnett made the comment Barnes should be able to drive on him. He didn’t

      In many ways, his performance wasn’t that different from the other night. That night he was given openings for the most part. Tonight, he had to create his own. The whole point of this system is that they pass until they create opportunities. But with Bogut a non-option and Green covered, Barnes has to step up instead of passing off. He should have been the second option or third. At least drive and get free throws. Zip tonight. Nada.

    • Get your brother on the board, rzz!

  20. But of course it takes new players a long time to adjust to a new system:

    Don’t mess with chemistry.

    • Did you watch the game ? So, you think going by box score that Reggie Jackson with 7-18 shooting helped Detroit won the game.

      • That’s an average night. I would have gladly settled for a similar line from Livingston. He isn’t capable of it.

        • Are you serious ? Sorry but have to say this, you have veryu limited basketball knowledge and you try to apply what little knowledge you have while watching the game hoping for warriors to play the way you can understand. That means, you will never enjoy the game when warriors winning or losing though you seem to enjoy ‘I told you so” when warriors lose the game.

          • Where am I off? Seems to me you’d step up with something better—it just hasn’t happened. But of course you’re on your own.

  21. Everything last night happened exactly the way we should have expected it to happen, given the lineups and play. There were no surprises.

    With one exception in Klay, who far exceeded expectations and still almost carried the day. A significant way in which Klay helped was driving and getting to the free throw line, 10/10. And this was a chance for Barnes’ superior athleticism to step in and help carry the load. Botched drives and 0 free throws. Almost three full seasons in the NBA and he still hasn’t gotten it together. The needed skills just aren’t there.

    If this was supposed to be a defensive effort, Kerr failed. Indiana well exceeded its % and point total. But there shouldn’t have been a drop off on defense with Curry out, right? Livingston after all is a good defender, with his length etc.?

    Who was on Stuckey last night, anyway? I lost track.

    • Three full seasons in NBA, another way to put at it is that he would have been senior in college, sorry but your posts are just irritating me.

      • Noted, Harry. You complain, but you are easily the most negative commenter on the board, a black hole of negativity. First your assessments of players and games are so off base that they can only be measured in negative numbers, which, if anyone takes them seriously—I don’t—makes real appreciation of the games impossible.

        Then you attack anyone you disagree with with loaded terms like “hater” and “negativity,” I guess to shut them up. But I suppose, by your terms, you are a Lee hater.

        Forgive me if I pass by your comments from here on out.

    • I didn’t see the 1st Q. Can anyone spell out the defensive adjustments the Pacers made in Q2?

      What I did see was a so-called “pass-first” PG total 2 assists in 26 min. If that’s a floor leader, I’m St. Peter. Zero free throws. In his earlier career, Livingston lived at the line. Now? A delicate little touch-me-not flower. Must be taking lessons from Harry Barnes.

      Livingston also recorded 4 mostly stupid fouls trying to slow down his man on D as he blew by. VERY poor D, partly because of a lack of foot speed but also bad positioning, bad footwork, and no ability to see plays developing.

      When the Ws signed Livingston, I thought it was a good move. It turned out not to be. He’s just going through the motions out there, getting his couple shots/game and screwing the team out of his salary.

  22. Felt says “Kanter 26-12-3 in his second game as a Thunder, but #Warriors DEFINITELY wouldn’t want to give up the great Harrison Barnes for him.”

    Do you have any source if that offer was on table. Also, do you know Kanter is free agent this summer right, same time as Green where as Barnes not up for extension a year later.