Asik On, Asik Off: Warriors 106 Pelicans 99

Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything. — Mr. Miyagi

As I foreshadowed in my preview, it was obvious from this Game 1 that the Pelicans match up much better against the Warriors with Omer Asik off the floor. Asik was -18 on the game, which means… counting fingers… the Pellies were +11 with him sitting. Noting that Ajinca was +3, that means that the Pellies were +8 with Anthony Davis at center.       

The differences that playing AD at center made were manifold and huge: AD had only 7 rebounds for the game, almost all of which came at center in the second half. Why? Because when playing the four, he was guarding Dray out at the three point line on defense, and on offense, the Bogut and Dray front line had little trouble boxing him out. But get Dray isolated down low against AD at center in a smallball scenario, and that switch is flipped. AD is going to own the paint.

AD at center also opened the floor for the Pellies, which got his pick and roll game going. He was the best pick and roll finisher in the game this season, and you saw why in the fourth quarter.

And AD at center allowed the Pellies to get quicker all over the floor, with a smallball four, and two small guards in the backcourt. Quicker, in fact, than the Warriors. (Particularly when Shaun Livingston was on the court.)

I read on twitter during this game that Monty Williams consulted with Gregg Popovich before the series. Pop’s hands were visible in much of Monty’s approach to this game: From the crossmatch of Quincy Pondexter onto Stephen Curry to start the game, to the smallball approach to the fourth quarter, to the Hack a Iggy down the stretch.

Now, the $64 million dollar question: Does Monty Williams have the balls to bench Asik, and START Anthony Davis at center? If he does, this series could go from a bore to a blast.

Tyreke: Got a knee boo-boo and had to retire from the competition, probably from crashing like a runaway freight train into the Great Wall of Bogut.

Before he quit, he was 0-2 from the field for 1 point, with 1 rebound and no assists in 12 minutes. Anyone surprised by this utter massacre of a line?

Not me.

And was anyone surprised by the fact that the Pelicans were much better with him off the court? I think quite a few people might actually have been surprised, but I’ve been arguing this about Tyreke and what passes for his game since before he was mistakenly handed the rookie of the year award (what a disgrace for the national basketball media that was). Norris Cole in his place opened up the entire floor for the Pellies, not least of all because their ball movement exploded. Anthony Davis probably got more fourth quarter touches this game than in any other this season. Good touches.

What does Monty do when Tyreke returns? I’ve already stated what I’d do: play him at power forward.

Rhino and Jrue:  You saw the rustiness, right? The extra pounds Jrue is carrying (could he spare a few for his brother)? And Rhino’s inability to guard Dray?

Although to be fair to Rhino, the way Monty uses him is abolutely inexplicable. Post-ups? Not using Anderson to space the floor when the Warriors have a Bogut – Green frontline should be a firing offense. Anderson should be getting 10 threes a game in this series, regardless of how he’s shooting it. By what other scenario do the Pellies have a shot to steal a game?

Pop, your work is not done.

The MVP: QPon is long, which is good when guarding Curry, but he’s not Kawhi Leonard nor Danny Green, which is bad.

And Monty’s defensive scheme did not pay any undue attention to Curry: He was not blitzed coming off screens, which allowed him to frequently drive for layups. Not sure if Monty’s strategy will survive until game two. Now that he’s got a look at QPon’s ineffectiveness, I expect an adjustment.

Any attempt to guard Stephen Curry by ordinary means will be met by death.

Klay: Got the wake up call. Playoff Klay is here, and PK is determined to get to the line.

Multiple drives, not always successful with the pterodactyl that is Anthony Davis circling. But look at those 9 free throw attempts.

I said before the playoffs that Klay should look to average 8 to 10 free throws in games in which his outside shot was being taken away. Only way the Warriors could win the championship.

Bingo.

Dray: As predicted, Dray did a great job boxing AD out, and a great job harassing his dribble.

Until AD was moved to center, when the middle was open and his dribble drive became far more assertive, and boxing out a swarming horde of smalls all by himself became a nightmare for the Warriors 6-5″ center.

But that’s a problem for another time. Just look at this floor game: 15 points, 12 boards, 7 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks. Completely nullified the Pelicans traditional lineup. Devoured a rhino. Facilitated the offense beautifully.

What a player.

Barnes: Hit an acceptable number of his open shots, but was strictly hit or miss on the defensive end. Simply waved at the small guards as they went by, and missed several rotations on pick and roll. One in the first half led to an on court chewing out by Draymond Green.

That seems to be a daily occurrence of late.

The 30 Point Line: I speculated before the playoffs that Green and Barnes would have to average 30 points a game in order for the Warriors to get by the better playoff teams.

They only got 27 in this game, but that had largely to do with the fact that Monty didn’t sell out trying to stop Curry. It’s anyone’s guess whether that changes later in the series, but change it will, as the Warriors go deeper in the playoffs.

Bogut: Playoff Bogut is back, and this time he’s pissed healthy.

Bogut has been a special player this season, healthier than he’s been in years, and better utilized in Steve Kerr’s offense than he’s ever been in his career. No Warriors fan is happier for him than I am. No one gets to the level of skill and hoops IQ that Bogut has attained without living and breathing the game. And those are the kinds of players I love. It’s great to see Bogut finally get the chance to fulfill his destiny on the hardwood.

As for this matchup with Asik, it’s a dream. Bogut should show up to the next game with a knife and fork and a bib. That’s how tasty it is. Asik is big, but not nearly as gifted. Has no shot to pull Bogut away from the basket. Can’t beat him down the floor. A dream.

Long may it last.

Jeff van Gundy did make mention of a possible dark cloud on the distant horizon: Hack a Bogut. Given the airball we saw tonight, and the Hack a Iggy as well, it’s pretty clear this dark cloud will become an crashing thunderstorm as the Spurs approach.

Shaun Livingston: -21 in 13 minutes. Unable to contain the Pellies’ quicker guards, unable to return any of the fire he was taking. A ridiculously bad fit for Steve Kerr’s system.

This is a problem I have been detailing since the season began. Nay, since the very day he was signed, when I called it one of the worst signings in Warriors history. (Because I felt it might cost the Warriors their chance at a title.) And I took as much heat for this opinion as I have taken for any other basketball opinion I’ve had in my life (except perhaps for my opinion of The Black Falcon).

I’m not taking any heat for it now.

Can Kerr live with this throughout the playoffs? Against the Spurs? The Cavs?

I made a silly tweet during the first half, questioning whether we’d ever get to see Curry play in the second half of games in this series. Curry logged 40 minutes in this game.

By the end of the playoffs, that might seem light.

46 Responses to Asik On, Asik Off: Warriors 106 Pelicans 99

  1. If Kerr plays to contain teams and maintain leads, he may well watch the latter disappear, as we’ve seen before and saw this afternoon. There is a lot to point to in the second half, a lot of which we won’t see again—missed free throws and layups—but I go back to the first half, when Livingston led the team:

    http://popcornmachine.net/gf?date=20150418&game=NORGSW

    Look at Livingston’s stints without Curry, -6 and -7, look at the line in the middle that shows the lead evaporate. What they did first half was let NO get back into the game and get its players going while the Warrior offense stalled when instead they could have put the game away. I don’t know if Kerr is trying to buy time or the stalling offense is the only way he knows to play Livingston, but either way the result is the same. They couldn’t get good shots up and had to put up bad ones late in the clock. Better to put Iguodala, Klay, and Barbosa in and encourage, share running the offense, and encouraging them to push the pace? Barbosa can penetrate quickly and shows a shot.

    12 points from the bench, yet they played 60 minutes.

    Hard to believe a few bursts of Ezeli on Davis wouldn’t be effective and give Green a break.

    They won’t be able to drive the lane that easily against other teams, maybe not again against NO.

  2. cosmicballoon

    Kerr missed an opportunity in this game…to keep going at Davis when he picked up his 4th foul. If they could draw the 5th foul, Davis has to spend time on the bench in the 4th.

  3. Green, Thompson, and Curry will average 40+ per game and Bogut 30+, during the play-offs. Kerr won’t tolerate inadequate, sub-standard player performances. He can’t afford to.

  4. Felt, another good post.

    Only thing you have missed is, Green was allowed to guard because of Barne able to guard Andersen and he did pretty well. If not Green and Barnes, not sure who can guard Andersen and also stretch on the other end.

  5. Sure seemed to me that A. Davis had killer
    mentality in 4th quarter.

    Main reason NO did poorly in 1st quarter
    is they missed open shots.

    Did’t Livingston in his 13 minutes play
    mostly with Curry and Thompson.
    Terrible game 1-3. Really?

    Thompson shot terrible from the field.
    Bragging about his getting to foul line
    only justified if he shot well. 21 points
    on 17 FGA’s is nothing to write home
    about. Hardly would say he showed up
    for the playoffs.

    • 2 points. His only bucket was a fed dunk, where he was already standing under the basket. And 1 turn-over, 2 fouls, no assists, no rebounds, and no steals in 13 minutes.

    • .22 points ain’t exactly disappearing
      Klay took guys to the whole, even challenged Davis numerous times. Very nice game on both sides of ball . Bogut too. Looked amost spry. HB under control, hit 2 big early threes.
      Hope Steph holds up, as he’s the best player on the floor ever night

  6. Felt, I know you like to note how accurate your prescience is when they come true during a game. You were right about the Pels being terrible with Asik on the court and it’s not a controversial prediction to make. But what do you think the consequences of playing Davis at the 5 for 48 minutes will be? There is a reason why coaches start big and then go small in crunch time. You can’t have the afterburners on the whole game. Hell, it even took Pop until Game 3 in the Finals last year to start Diaw over Splitter and that’s when they dropped the napalm on the Heat. But even after Pop saw how effective it was, he still starts Duncan and Baynes this year.
    Should Monty start Davis and Anderson? Probably. But where are you going to go from there? Pop had Bonner waiting in the wings. Monty has … Babbitt?

  7. Nice piece Feltbot. You do like to toot your own horn but you can’t blame a guy for that, especially if he’s right. That was fun, intense, frustrating at times. And that Oracle crowd. I tuned into Chi-Mil and the relative deafening silence during the first quarter was the first thing I noticed

    I’ve run out of things to say regarding the whole Liv thing. He was such a dynamic player as a young Clip, playing with Brand and the vintage Andre Miller, Magette and DMiles, he’s overcome a horrific injury, but he’s a completely different player. He’s more of a small forward than a point guard now, really.

    • the bandwagon overfloweth with praise for the myers personnel committee, yet there’s ample evidence that obvious stuff escapes their attention. the only perimeter scorer they added for the bench was rush, and it was obvious from Brk’s play last season with livingston that he had to have three perimeter threats on the court with him.

  8. in second quarter with davis at center warriors pushed the lead from somewhere 11 to 18 to close it out. in third with anderson at center warriors pushed it to 23 and when davis came in pushed it to 25, during the last two/three minutes barbosa missed three quite easy layups and iguodala added one misslauyp of his own.

    in other words warriors small ball team extended leads no matter what pelicans did, what went wrong in 4th had to do with warriors bench being shitty, maybe conserving energy and the lead, and let pelicans catch some fire and momentum, after which pressure went up, warriors missed ton of free throws – curry, thompson and, expectedly, iguodala.

    in other words game flow was 70 percent in favour of oncoming warriors blowout no matter what pelicans did, and the bench glitch gave the momentum away – there’s no way pelicans keep this series close, if warriors bench at least plays mediocre basketball (not 12 points through 4 quarters), you can start davis at five, then switch anderson there, whichever way you cut it warriors small ball will be better by significant margin, if this game shows anything startegy-wise as long AS long as curry is playing.

    sure pelicans may want to play davis 48 minutes, and warriors curry 40, that would keep winning margin at 1o in warriors favour, but that is as much as i will give the pelicans after this game.

    no chance and not really interesting, except for excellence of davis especially if condensed into some stretches while curry is out – meaning warriors struggling to score and letting pelicans slowly get advantage. not enough, though to make it anything else, but a moderately easy series.

    • Somewhat minor but not insignificant asides, I don’t think QPon (that’s a cool handle) will be hitting many more 45ft 3s. Or Steph missing 3 more free throws in one game. Ditto Klay
      Van Gundy makes some real astute observations. His comments on how to get around the Hak-a-Shaq rule in the last 2 min never occurred to me. And MJax got off a zinger at his haters with his “haven’t you heard. I’m a hater” line, while discussing Steph.
      Also cool is how the have the hoops miked and when someone nails a pure 3, u get that net almost snapping. Dray had one of those

      No mas hoops 4 me to-day

  9. Bench performances yesterday:

    Houston 36
    Dallas 32
    Washington 27
    Toronto (kind of doesn’t count) 48
    Chicago 30
    Milwaukee 31
    New Orleans (stretched by injuries and rehab players) 25

    and Warriors 12

    • The bench combined played 59 minutes, yet only got 12 shots up plus 3-6 FTs. But time is misleading, as Iguodala played 31 of those 59 minutes and put up 6 of the shots. And their limited production is a factor of the starters’ heavy minutes and the staggering of substitutions.

      Livingston, Iguodala, and Speights and Ezeli (four minutes total for those two) combined for -41, this in a game where they had 15 and 25 point leads.

      Getting production from the bench should be a priority, and may be a necessity if they want to make a deep run.

    • Thanx rgg, that’s shocking and for me casts a shadow over the Warriors play-off run.

  10. I got to watch the game unperturbed and in solitude yesterday, just my dog at my side, the way I like it when I really wanna pay close attention to the action. I have to admit I caught myself at times and questioned why I was getting so excited, Moto, and I thought about your comments involving sentimental attachment and changing attitudes as you age. Now you’ve jaded me
    Really, I don’t mind. Questioning your own behavior is part of getting to kno thyself, maybe to realize when you’re going through life on auto-pilot, and regaining some perspective
    Come 730 mon nite I’ll be planted in front of the tube.

    I think I’ve watched about 6 outs of Giants baseball this year. Life is truly too short for some things..

  11. More on playoffs and benches—

    In the Spurs playoffs last year, the bench averaged about 43 points per game.

    http://espn.go.com/nba/team/stats/_/name/sa/year/2014/san-antonio-spurs

    I suppose you could argue Ginobli is an exception, a talented player on a talented team who might start elsewhere, but that still leaves 29 points per game. The rest are by no means exceptional players, but players who have come up in the Spurs system. You also see most put in considerable minutes throughout the playoffs.

    The Spurs are somewhat like the Warriors in this regard, that neither teams has an unstoppable player on the order of James or Durant, but even teams with those players need supplemental punch. Jordan needed an outside shooter in Kerr.

    The bench not only maintains leads and spells the other players for rest, they also provide varied options to step up in a few games and meet whatever situation. Their overall playoff averages don’t tell the whole story. Mills, for example, averaged 7 ppg, but stepped up in several, including 17 and 14 points in the final blowouts of Miami. Diaw had many double digit games, and 26 points in the clinching win over OKC.

    • Why make an exception of Ginobili? He is a true sixth man, a scoring point guard, in the mold of Marciulonis, Van Exel of the 2003 Mavs, and the We Believe Monta.

      The Warriors have gone in a radically different direction. Let’s see if it works when the going gets tough.

      • And Vinnie Johnson from the bad boys, Robert Horry in the latter part of his career, Vince Carter today, etc.

        It seems odd to me that Steve Kerr, an off-the-bench long range bomber for most of his playing career, doesn’t have one on his team. He’d obviously see the value in someone like that, and he’s obviously not getting ANYTHING he wants from Livingston.

        • Emphasis on point guard…

          • OK, but my point stands. Livingston’s biggest liability is the slow-mo setup for his shot. Getting him a touch at the top of the key is a waste of time unless some else, like Mo, is already in position to shoot – because Liv absolutely will not. I’ve never seen another PG who won’t fire from the FT line.

            Do the Ws need another 2nd-unit PG? Not really. All the wings rotate to the top of the key sometimes. They need a shoooooooter.

      • Ginolbi is an exception in that he’s an exceptionally good player to have coming off the bench, though he was a 57th pick some 12 years ago, selected by a team that saw his potential and valued the skills he had.

        The Warriors, of course, have two All Stars on the bench, one of them with splinters in his butt.

        For comparison, the Warrior bench averaged 29 ppg postseason in their close, 7 game series against the Clipz. Barnes 8 ppg, and Iguodala as a starter 13.

        Let’s see what happens tomorrow.

      • Felt, Iguodala has to be alteast poor man’s Ginobili, right ?

        • Very poor. The Warriors don’t ask it of him much, but in Philly and Denver he often failed at attempts to create his own 4th Q offense. And the 50% FT shooting puts a kibosh on that anyway.

          • Iguodala’s offensive output has fallen steadily over the past eight years. At best this major acquisition, one that precluded others, is a question mark.

            The question this season is about how he’s being used. It’s been noted here several times that playing him with Livingston makes little sense, as they are the same player who don’t offer enough on offense, though Iguodala runs the team better. It’s hard to believe, however, he wouldn’t have contributed more as a starter.

          • Livingston is underachieving, he can drive and kick the ball and push the tempo. He is capable but just not clicking. Hope he will turn around.

            I have seen in many games, Iguodala play like Ginobili. But, if Livingston and Iguodala not going to find form, then lot of minutes to Curry, not really good for championship aspirations.

            On another topic, how would you handle hack a bogut and hack a iguodala which Pelicans will employ from 2nd quarter.

  12. Some comments from Monte Poole:

    Harrison Barnes provided some timely offense, with 12 points, and also pulled down eight rebounds.

    The bench had a forgettable game. Only Andre Iguodala made an appreciable contribution, with 8 points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal.

    [RELATED: Livingston: ‘I know I can play better’]

    Green played 42 minutes and Curry went 40, both more than Kerr would have liked.

    Barnes was burned several times, missing defensive assignments by rotating poorly and switching too late. If he keeps it up, expect his minutes to decline.

    • lacob and myers seem to have the script already drafted for mr. barnes. lacob has boasted how they’ve built their core around their own draft picks. kerr is much more likely to accept the task of fitting barnes in to maximize his capabilities, than explain to his bosses that their prized lottery pick doesn’t have the quick responses either on offense or defense to truly boost the team.

      barnes will have a similar niche as sean elliot on the popovich-Mark I teams, contributing just enough to stick around but very rarely making a winning impact, a blandly appealing telegenic appearance and demeanour.

      • Elliott I recall helped Spurs win championship, so that is actually a nice comparison for Barnes.

    • The messaging on Barnes has changed. The official team (pet) reporter never used to mention Barnes’ defensive lapses no matter how bad he was. The coaches would simply yank him off the floor without explanation. Now we hear about it.

      In addition, Barnes isn’t featured in team promos anymore, and is it my imagination or is Fitz squealing less about him, too?

      I think Kerr & Co. are turning up the heat on Barnes. That’s a hopeful trend. He has done better on D lately, with more energy and effort. Hope it continues to improve. If he wasn’t a defensive liability, we could keep another fine shooter on the floor.

    • Marc, Barnes had on two possessions that I could recollect was slow to react. But, isn’t that the case with everyone in the team. I recall, on two occassions, our best defender Green blown his assignment and ackowledged it. Barnes played very good D on RAndersen and was active. There are only two guys who can defender Andersen all the way to the 3PT and those are Green and Barnes. If Green is occupied with Davis, then Barnes has to guard Andersen all the way to the 3PT line. Andersen’s length means, he will just shoot over Iguodala.

      • Not sure, would have to watch the game again, focusing on the D and Barnes. I remember what Felt or Hat posted sbout Barnes watching guards go by. I thought that was curious too. Holiday or Iggy would take a step over to help out. Again, it’s court presence and reacting, which Barnes can learn, though frustrating about him, what with all his talent. Green shares my frustration, as he has got into Barnes some on the court on several occasions, which to me is not good in the open for opponents and fans to see, but that’s Draymond.

        • Draymond displaying his displeasure is okay as he readily says ‘my fault’ when he commits the same mistake. Barnes has been more inconsistent on D in the second half of the season but last game he was good from what I have seen. In over 30 minutes of game, if you are half step late on couple of possessions, you are doing good. Everyone will have atleast couple of those every game.

  13. Both the Clips and Spurs missed lay-ups like the Warriors did yesterday. I think this is because everything is more contested in the play-offs.

    The Clips got the Spurs down and kept them down, stopping and reversing the inevitable late run.

    • Pace is different in playoffs and needs adjustment for players. Clippers bigs consciously running harder than usual to test Tim Duncan.

    • Not hitting outside shots hurt, especially early, especially from Green. If Green hits, the whole tempo of the game changes.

    • cosmicballoon

      The Clippers aggressively trapped Leonard and the Spurs couldn’t capitalize last night. It was missed 3s to start the game, and then they couldn’t get layups even when the Clippers were out of position. This series should go 6 or 7…and the Spurs probably won’t win.

      Also, the hack-a-Jordan strategy may look good on paper, but I think it serves as a motivator for the emotional Clippers.

  14. Question to Felt and others,

    How would you handle hack a bogut and hack a iguodala which Pelicans will employ from 2nd quarter.

    Obvious answer is to play Bogut and Iguodala at the start of quarters before bonus and last 2 minutes of the game when they can’t hack. But, if they make at 50%, isn’t it still better than a jump shot ? Love to see some stats as how it worked.

    • I think Williams been talking to Pop and will hack those guys more and effectively. Best thing for the Warriors is Iggy and Bogs pratice their FTs, or keep them off the floor. Warriors poor FT shooting has come back to haunt them. 67 is great in the regular season, but these things come out and are exploited in the play-offs.

      • cosmicballoon

        Iggy can get hot and hit 6 or 7 in a row. Both he and Bogut aren’t bad like DJ. Also, it’s debatable if the Warriors are better offensively with Bogut off the floor. The lineup with Dray at center has crushed teams this season.

  15. I have to bump up Anthony Davis unto my “NBA things that scare me as a Wubs fan” list. He’s tied for #3 with Kkorvers jumper, behind LeBron and Kawaii/the Spurs. To toot my own horn, I called him a better Tim Duncan here, preseason. Because he truly can be a dominator, if he wants it
    Steph would be tied for the top spot, at least, if I weren’t a Dubs fan

    Should be another good one tonite. I’m gettin excited and won’t fight it, just stock up on the hi-life cause my neighbors comin over. Yes, we’ll have to ride Steph (and dray and Klay) hard, but they’re in their primes; if they’re not capable of doing it now they may never be

    Hopefully some help on the wAy over the next yr or two. Imagine if we had snagged Isaiah Thomas instead of Liv.
    I’d even settle for Lil Nate right now