Warriors v Rockets: 2015 Western Conference Finals Preview

Earlier this year, I dismissed the Rockets’ title hopes. But the Rockets team I wrote about then is literally nothing like the current Rockets team. Here are five radical ways in which the Rockets have changed from the team that the Warriors dominated in the regular season, and what it means for this playoff series:  

1) Dwight Howard: The first thing that’s going to happen in this series is that Dwight Howard is going to eat Andrew Bogut alive. After watching Howard against the Clippers, I’m almost certain of this.

That’s what used to happen back in the day, back when both centers were fully healthy. Howard was just too quick and athletic for Bogut. Bogut couldn’t stay in front of him, couldn’t run with him. And on the other end of the floor, Bogut just didn’t have the skills or the will to exploit his size advantage. He’s never been that player.

I didn’t know at the time that the Howard I observed at midseason was just days from going back under the knife, but I was completely convinced that his knee was killing him. I saw a joyless player who was completely unable to protect the rim. That’s emphatically not the Howard I saw in the Clippers series. His bounce is back, and his joy. I saw the rim protector of old, and the guy who could post 20 and 15s against a monster front line, with a stretch four by his side. The guy who could effortlessly run the floor. That spells trouble for Bogut, in the best of times.

But what of Bogut’s health? I think it’s reasonable to have some concerns here. I think Bogut has always been an extremely good defender one-on-one against Zach Randolph.  Too big to be bullied, too long to shoot over, and just quick enough to be able to keep Randolph in front of him. Bogut ate him up during the regular season. And in Game 1 of the playoff series.

But that changed radically in Game 2. Suddenly, I saw Randolph getting around Bogut with ease, and turning the tables. And I saw Ron Adams  forced in Game 4 to come up with a “gimmick” defense from the Don Nelson archives to save Bogut from a matchup he couldn’t handle — with Barnes and Green fronting the Grizzlies’ big men, and Bogut, guarding no one, banging with no one, held in reserve.

Did that happen because Bogut never really could guard Randolph after all, or because Randolph suddenly figured Bogut out? Or did it happen because Bogut suddenly weakened? There were rumors floated around that Bogut tweaked his back in Game 1. I don’t know about that, but I did sit up and pay attention when it was reported that Bogut went for an MRI on his knee mid-series. Was that the same knee that caused him to take an unscheduled rest in the middle of the season? The knee that he got the Iggy…. errrrr…. Kobe treatment on?

I’m a little bit concerned about Bogut right now, and that 3 rebound total in the last Grizzlies game did little to allay those concerns. I think it’s highly likely he’s going to get dominated by Dwight Howard in this series.

Particularly if Howard’s coach continues to get this right:

2) Pick and Roll v. Low Post Offense: I had to rub my eyes in disbelief during Game 7 of the Rockets-Clippers. I don’t think Kevin McHale posted up Howard a single time. Not one single time. What I saw was pick and roll after pick and roll after pick and roll. I think the Rockets ran PNR literally 90% of the time.

I never thought it could happen. Kevin McHale was one of the greatest low-post players of all time. Hakeem Olajuwon, who’s virtually on the staff of the Rockets, and works closely with Howard, was one of the greatest low-post players of all time. And Dwight Howard strongly prefers to play in the low-post himself, so much so that he fiercely resisted the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play pick and roll with Steve Nash.

I never thought that Kevin McHale could persuade Howard to forsake the low post for pick and roll. I never thought that it would even occur to McHale to do that. Which is one of the main reasons I thought the Rockets would never get it together under his leadership.

But if it’s now true that Howard is ready to team up with James Harden in a pick and roll offense, if what I saw in the Clippers series carries over to this series, the Warriors are in for big trouble.

Because pick and roll is the Warriors’ Achilles heel. And it’s Andrew Bogut’s Achilles heel in particular: The immobile Bogut can’t leave the lane to hedge without getting torched. But if he doesn’t leave the lane to hedge on James Harden… the whole Warriors defense will have to get involved.

And that will open up a smorgasbord of opportunities for James Harden, point guard extraordinaire, should he care to come out and play.

3) James Harden: I have written a couple of times this season, in the context of the MVP race, about the difference between Stephen Curry and James Harden in leadership. About how selfishly Harden played in his first four games against the Warriors this season, about his failure to make his teammates better when his own offense was being taken away.

This issue seemingly came to a head in Game 6 against the Clippers, when Harden rode the bench for the entire fourth quarter, and had a ringside seat as his teammates rallied for one of the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history. Without him.

Was that game James Harden’s revelation in the desert? Because the Harden I watched in Game 7 against the Clippers was seemingly a completely different player. This was a Harden who was determined to trust his teammates, and was simply superb at finding and setting them up. This Harden was the apotheosis of James Harden: one of the very best pick and roll point guards in the league, when he chooses to be.

The Warriors are going to take away James Harden’s scoring, of that you can be sure. He will be faced with his nemesis, Klay Thompson, the man who guards him better than anyone else in the league, the man who is long enough to challenge his step-back three, who simply stones every one of his head and ball fakes, who never reaches on his drives, and knows exactly how to guide him into the waiting arms of Andrew Bogut.

Which James Harden will show up against the Warriors’ suffocating defense? The egotistical James Harden who — perhaps determined to put on an MVP show against his chief rival — fell flat on his face in the first four Warriors games, and dragged his team down with him? Or the selfless leader who lifted his teammates against the Clippers in Game 7, and who possesses exactly the right combination of skills in the pick and roll to slice and dice the Warriors defense to shreds?

4) The Battle of the Stretch Fours: Another radical difference between the Rockets of the regular season, and the Rockets the Warriors will face now, is this: During the regular season, the Rockets played the 6-11 Donatis Motiejunas at power forward, which of course afforded the Warriors the traditional Nellieball-four speed advantage, as well as the spacing advantage. Draymond Green frolicked, and the Warriors offense did their thing.

That’s not what the Warriors are getting now. The Warriors are now, for the first time in these playoffs, face to face with another Nellieball team. The Rockets have two stretch-fours of their own to match up with Draymond Green and Playoff Barnes: Terrence Jones, back from injury, and Josh Smith, added at mid-season and now fully integrated. And as of Game 5 against the Clippers, inserted into the starting lineup.

The battle between Smith and Draymond for supremacy will be fascinating. The Josh Smith of old was one of the premier defenders in the league. He’s fallen off considerably, but showed flashes of his old form in the last series. He (and Howard) held Blake Griffin to 0-4 in the final quarter of the pivotal Game 6. The Josh Smith of old was even more athletic than Draymond: he could out-jump him and out-run him, and he could stay in front of him on the perimeter. Does Smith have enough in the tank to take Draymond on with his own weapons?

If not, Terrence Jones might. The greatly underrated Jones is also extremely athletic, and he’s longer than both Dray and Smith.

But where this matchup will really get interesting is on the other end of the floor. Smith has been ridiculed in the past for taking three point shots, but the Darryl Morey-led Rockets have been fine with him hoisting them, and he responded in the Clippers series by hitting an eye-opening 36% from three. Jones struggled against the Clippers, but hit 35% from three in the regular season.

The Warriors might be content to simply let Green play off Smith and Jones, and play rover. But if Smith and Jones succeed in pulling Dray out to the three point line, Bogut will be left on an island in the Warriors middle against Howard, and…

this series could get very, very interesting.

5) The Stephen Curry Problem: There is one way in which this Rockets team has gotten worse than the team the Warriors crushed in the regular season: they lost noted Curry torturer Patrick Beverley to injury. Beverley is one of the most tenacious point guard defenders in the league, and he gave Curry fits at times. He has been replaced in the Rockets’ lineup with Jason Terry and Pablo Prigioni, who are quite possibly the league’s worst defenders. So major downgrade, and a very significant problem for a Rockets team coming up against the league MVP at the point guard position.

I’m certain we’ll see quite a bit of blitzing — always a profitable tactic when Andrew Bogut is on the floor — but I simply don’t see how the Rockets can stick with Terry or Prigioni on Curry. It’s an invitation to have 50 points dropped on your head, on 60% shooting.

Obviously, a crossmatch is indicated, and the obvious candidate to switch onto Curry is Trevor Ariza, who guarded Chris Paul down the stretch in the Clippers series. But will McHale have the gumption to do that to start the game? That creates other problems: Harden on Klay Thompson, and Terry/Prigioni on Playoff Barnes. (We could be in for another monster series from Playoff Barnes, fresh off his resounding success against a Grizzlies defense that attempted to hide Courtney Lee and Zach Randolph against him, when they guarded him at all. Which means that my comments section will once again hum to the trilling of thrilling trolls.)

My own solution to The Stephen Curry Problem, were I Kevin McHale, would be to bench Terry and Prigioni for Corey Brewer. Sacrifices ball-handling, to be sure, but James Harden is the real point-guard of the Rockets. Risks exhausting Harden, yes. But look what it gives you: the one tried and true method of shutting down Curry and Klay in the playoffs: length at every position. PLAYOFF LENGTH. Corey Brewer is long, and a hell of a defender. Like Trevor Ariza he can get to both Curry and Klay’s shot. Like Trevor Ariza, he can get his shot off against the Warriors’ own playoff length. He’s also been playing out of his mind. I’d play him, and hide Harden on Playoff Barnes.

Kevin McHale has the tools to make this a series. Does he have the chops?

MORE THEMES AND MEMES:

Smallball v Smallball: Since Andrew Bogut is apparently only good for 24 minutes a game, Steve Kerr has so far in these playoffs relied extensively on the Draymond at five, Barnes at four lineup. And so far, that lineup has rocked.

Will it rock against a Howard/Smith or Howard/Jones frontline? I’m not so sure. All of those players have the chops to punish the Warriors’ smalls down low, and they have the athleticism to guard the Warriors on the other end as well.

But what if McHale decides to match up small against the Warriors? Do Draymond and Barnes have the edge against Smith/Jones and Trevor Ariza?

Again, I’m not so sure. I don’t think Barnes is in Ariza’s class. I think Ariza would turn him into Regular Season Barnes, pronto.

Hack-a-Howard v Hack-a-Bogut: I read yesterday that Steve Kerr dined with his mentor Gregg Popovich in San Francisco after the Grizzlies series ended. Not surprising to me: NBA coaches often bring in other coaches for help during the playoffs, and who better for Kerr to rely on than one of the greatest coaches of all time? Just as Pop himself has frequently brought in his own mentor, Don Nelson.

(It’s also not surprising in view of the fact that it was Pop who clued Ron Adams in to that killer Game 4 defensive adjustment that swung the Grizzlies series in the Warriors favor — as Ron Adams admitted, and Greg Papa reported on radio. Pop used that same defense to beat the Grizzlies a few years back. And – as Papa also noted – Pop got that defense from his own mentor, Don Nelson. Nellie used that fronting, double the post defense all the time, most memorably for me with Al Harrington fronting Yao Ming. Harrington looked like a miniature doll in that matchup.

Back then, this defense was derisively termed a “gimmick defense” by the hacks at the Merc. Remember that? And did anyone check to see whether they trotted out this term again after the Warriors’ triumph? Mmmmm. Well. I didn’t think so.

But I digress. To sum up, and paraphrase the great Mark Jackson: Don Nelson has his hands on this Warriors team.)

So what do you think was at the top of the agenda for Kerr’s little powwow with Pop? My guess would be the Hack-a-Shaq, at which Pop is an acknowledged master. (As was his mentor, the pioneer of the strategy, Don Nelson.) I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Kerr haul this strategy out against Dwight Howard. He may very well be forced to, if I’m right about how Bogut will match up against Howard. Pop was forced to hack DeAndre Jordan in the first half during the Spurs-Clippers series, to give his aged and injured team a much needed break. But as I’ve previously discussed, it’s a strategy that’s much better reserved for late in the game, when trailing.

And what about Hack-a-Bogut? During the Memphis series I finally snapped to the reason why the Hack-a-Bogut has so rarely been deployed against the Warriors this season, and post-season. It’s because the Warriors are almost never in the bonus. And the number of times that Bogut is still on the floor when the Warriors do reach the bonus is less than never.

Hack-a-Howard (Smith) could be a major theme of this series. Hack-a-Bogut (Iggy), not so much.

The Festus Factor: This is a series in which Festus Ezeli is going to play a major role. Particularly given the fact of Mo Speights’ calf injury, an injury that is notoriously tricky and slow to heal.

I think Festus is up to the challenge. His power, athleticism and defensive IQ will be extraordinarily useful.

On offense, Festus gets to play pick and roll, while David Lee does not. Have you noticed? I recently twigged to the reason. It’s because David Lee is skilled enough to play Kerr’s preferred offense, while Festus is not. Lee can fill the high-post and the mid-post, make the right picks, deliver the dribble handoff, swing the ball along to the next player, and trot on over to the vacated spot on the floor, to await the return pass that rarely comes, and then only when the lane is fully clogged with confused opponents…

If I don’t stop digressing, this post will never end.

How to Bet: Given the long litany I just recited of things Warriors fans should be concerned about in this series, it might surprise you to know that I’m certain the Warriors will find a way to win. Let’s remember the bedrock reasons why the Warriors are so much better than the Rockets: They have better coaching, by far. They are one of the highest IQ teams in league history. One of the most unselfish and best passing teams in league history. They have, without a doubt, the best shooting backcourt in league history. They have the best defense in the league this season.

And they have the intangibles and leadership of the One True MVP.

The Warriors are going to prevail. The problem, for Warriors bettors, is getting a sensible bet down. I have heard that the Warriors are 11-1 favorites in some places in Las Vegas. The line I’m looking at online has the Warriors at -700, with the Rockets returning +450 (and that disgraceful spread, in a nutshell, is how bookies make money off suckers).

Those odds are way too much for me to fade. Particularly because of my worries about Andrew Bogut. Would you be willing to lay 7-1 odds that Bogut survives this matchup intact? You see the problem.

I counsel preserving one’s bullets, and awaiting opportunity.

Like the Warriors against the Grizzlies in Game 6, giving 5 points.

(I’d like to thank all those in the media who helped make that line possible. You know who you are.)

42 Responses to Warriors v Rockets: 2015 Western Conference Finals Preview

  1. cosmicballoon

    Ariza is a fairly 1 dimensional offensive player in the Rockets system. Shoot open threes. Other than that, I give Barnes an offensive edge.

    The one thing you haven’t mentioned is the Rockets playing a rough, emotionally draining 7 game series and then being forced to play game 1 two days later. The Warriors have a clear leg up in the rest/preparation department. Draymond needed the extra time, and so did Klay.

  2. You know your Warriors in depth Feltbot, so your jottings hold a lot of weight with me, as compared to the some of the regurgitated fluff the national media comes up with. It’s always good food for thought.

    Steph has already had everything from the likes of Mike Conley to Anthony Davis thrown at him, he’s proven his MVP status, and I don’t think Brewer or Ariza are causing him to lose sleep. Him and Bron will get theirs; if you overcompensate, it’s 4 on 3, or even 2. Thats what makes him so valuable. Also, I don’t feel Dwight is a better C than Gasol, or the Rockets a better team than Memphis. Maybe on paper, but not the floor. But they do look menacing in the box scores.
    After watching the Dubs be the crushees year after year, there role as the crushers in these playoffs has been most excellent to watch, for me. Great entertainment that I couldn’t have imagined in the Adonal Foyle days

  3. Great post, Felt. Excellent writing once again. I can’t wait to watch the game with all this in mind. Different eyes etc… love it! Thanks.

  4. Probably the only sober analysis out there. Not many days ago, many were saying this might be the year of the Clippers, and they might well still be saying that if Crawford and/or Riddick knocked down a few more shots. What Houston did wasn’t trivial, and the Warriors should have their hands full.

    Foul trouble may be an issue—Bogut, Green, and Klay, if he takes on Harden extended minutes.

    What may tip the scales is that one Warrior weakness will be covered. Curry can and will play extra minutes.

    Any thoughts about the pace? Will the Warriors be able to push it in the playoffs? They can win a running/shooting game. Or will McHale find a way to control it?

  5. I have to admit I barely watched the LAC-HOU series and had no idea Dwight was now running PNR. That is indeed really interesting, and makes Festus even more important in all likelihood.

    Felt, the one player you didn’t mention was Capela? All I’ve seen from this kid is that he’s super athletic and long. Doesn’t look like he can shoot. Can he defend at all?

  6. Great read Feltbot. Thanks.

    One thing that I think you missed out when outlining matchups was Kerr/Gentry/Adams vs McHale. Whats become evident is that the Warriors have learnt to make ‘creative’ adjustments, which is possible because of the versatility, IQ and buy-in of the players. Not all coaches have this flexibility, and not all coaches have the BBIQ and balls to pull it off. Kerr has learnt from the best.

  7. thank you for this International Workers Day-cum-ides of May present, guvnor. had similar thoughts to yours about the potential significance of d’mond’s defensive assignment, and the likelihood(or not) that smith or jones will make him stay ‘home’. green boosting the team defense against both howard and harden will take priority unless smith/jones really demonstrate they can stay at their top performance level. Hou’s big scorers can be made into sources for points on the other end with their turnovers.

    the Hou unfamiliar to the woeyrs is the late season/post season version with harden playing off the ball much more, smith taking the point forward role and distributing. they’ve been successful with it, but none of their opponents presented the calibre of the smaller lineup they’ll have to crack in this series.

  8. Howard will not destroy Bogut
    And Adan’s defense. Comical
    to even suggest that.

  9. When a team makes a lot of turnovers
    at times like the Warriors do I’d hardly
    brand them a smart group.

    Warriors will win series because Houston
    runs a boring offense while the Warriors
    run an offense that can’t be stopped. We’ll
    win the battle in the paint. We have
    a far superior defense led by perimeter
    players with length. Plus we have more
    speed on both sides of the ball, and
    more deadly shooters. Note
    to rgg- relax and enjoy. And get ready
    to light-up a cigar.

    • Warriors turnovers are a result of aggression and a conscious decision to push a fast pace against bigger, slower teams. It tends to produce open shot opportunities or easy looks at the rim. It’s very smart strategy. The execution isn’t always perfect.

  10. In Game 6 post game interview, Bogut said he could really use the rest.

    I think McHale will stay with what worked against the Clips with Howard, Smith, and Harden willing.

    I don’t think Ariza and Smith continue to bury the 3 like they did against the Clips. The Warriors will pressure them with length. The Clips can’t.

  11. Maui Nellie

    “Don’t expect Warriors to play Hack-a-Rocket”

    http://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Don-t-expect-Warriors-to-play-Hack-a-Rocket-6269435.php

    The article reinforces my opinion on why the Warriors will do very little, if any, hack-a-player in this series (and why they did very little of it all season to this point), the strategy is overrated in terms of effectiveness (increasing your chances of winning) AND it destroys the rhythm of the game, something that’s vitally important to any team that wants to play uptempo and fast as possible like GSW. As Kerr said, never say never, but I’d be very surprised to see much of it from the Warriors in this series.

  12. Maui Nellie

    How good is the Rockets defense? Thus far in the playoffs they’ve given up the following point totals: 108, 99, 128, 121, 94, 117, 109, 124, 128, 103, 107, & 100. In the 4 regular season meetings with GSW they surrendered 98, 105, 131, & 126 in being swept by the Dubs.

    To be fair, those defensive efforts came vs 3 of the best offenses in the NBA (Dallas, LAC, & GSW), but the eye test says there are lots of defensive lapses that take place on a regular basis per 48 minutes of Rockets hoops. This article paints the Houston defense in a more favorable color but as Felty opined the Warriors players are smarter, as are their coaches, and the combination = a much better defense than their opponent.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/73116/is-barkley-right-about-rockets-defense

    BTW, I personally don’t believe the Rockets (and that includes Howard) are any more formidable than they were when the Warriors kicked their collective butts during the regular season. Howard being more athletic (aka healthier) just means he’s more likely to do more stupid things and commit dumber fouls or goaltends.

    Seriously, the Clippers were destroying this team just last week before taking their foot off the gas in Game 5. Then they resumed destroying Houston in Game 6 for the first 33 minutes. What happened after that is open for interpretation. Thought the game was over and lost their focus/intensity? Tired from lack of depth? Choked? Probably a lethal mix of all three but whatever the answer it made Game 7 a moot point from the standpoint of meaningful analysis, the Clippers were done, toast, finished, once Game 6 was over. Mark Jackson told a national TV audience as much during the Game 7 telecast, saying numerous times (starting in the first half) how amazed he was at how lifeless the Clippers looked considering their season was on the line.

    Bottom line for me is that the Clippers lost that series more than the Rockets won it. That doesn’t mean they can’t win this series but imo unless the Warriors don’t play up to their capabilities (maybe the pressure of expectations will take an emotional toll ie play tighter?) we should be treated to the NBA Finals that the oddsmakers have been “predicting” for many months, GSW vs Lebron et al (no, personally not a Hawks believer).

    • Warriors gonna crush

      I’m salivating at the the thought of the Hi-Life and Steph teeing up 3s

  13. Maui Nellie

    Bogut’s media session (from yesterday’s practice).

    https://soundcloud.com/warriors/andrew-bogut-practice-51815

  14. The series and 3 point shooting—

    In the Houston/Clippers series, the Clippers shot 23-26% on 3s in their four losses. They shot 42-45% in their wins. Houston was up and down, 19-43%, but shot 40% in their last two wins. Both teams launched about 30 a game. Remember Paul missed the first two games, and the Houston loss in one of them should cast serious doubts about the Rockets. Harden was up and down with his shooting. I’m not clear how sick he was and how much influence that had. But the point is obvious. Better shooting from the Clippers wins the series. They were 38% on the season, near the top.

    Both the Rockets and Warriors are 3 point shooting teams, and the edge goes decidedly in the Warriors’ favor. They have two of the best shooters in the game. But both teams have players down the roster who shoot them, and here uncertainty enters if not chaos for predictors.

    When the Warriors are hot and especially if they can push the pace they can build leads that establish rhythm and put pressure on their opponents. There’s a cascading effect, and we’ve seen it all season. But if they’re not and the pace slows to half court sets, it’s a different story. Especially if the guards are covered and they have no scoring in the lane, the shots go to Green and youknowwho in an attempt to spread the defense. Same goes for the second unit in any offensive set—they need someone to step up. In both cases we’re dealing with question marks and less certainty. Similarly, good shooting for Houston from their lesser shooters helped tip the scales against the Clippers.

    The Warriors shot 40% on 3s for the season, the Rockets only 35%. This is a huge difference, which showed its effect over the course of the season. But what happens in a seven game series? My only point here is that what works in the long run becomes less predictable in the short.

    How good is the Houston paint defense? Howard obviously is an influence, but how well coordinated is the team? I’ll take an opinion.

    • Lowe partly answers my question in his preview:

      http://grantland.com/the-triangle/2015-nba-conference-finals-preview/

      With a curious nod to the Bogut Curry pick and roll. More convincing is the play with Green:

      “This is why the Curry–Draymond Green pick-and-roll produced more points per play than almost every other such combination, per SportVU data, with Green’s rampaging 4-on-3s emerging as a worthy supplement to Curry’s scorching comets.”

  15. A couple of notes about the problems Felt outlined:

    First, a healthy Howard is indeed a fearsome beast, but in this series he will rarely be one-on-one against Bogut. As with the Smash Bros. in the last series, when he gets a touch he will be surrounded by little guys digging for the ball. It’s actually an even safer strategy against Howard than the Memphis bigs, because he doesn’t pass the ball well. He averages less than 1.5 assists/game for his career, and even fewer in the playoffs. Howard touches the ball and the defense compresses around him. He’s in for a frustrating series.

    Smith is a smart, skilled guy, but he has slowed down A LOT. If he’s going to be Draymond’s primary defensive assignment, Dray will be free to roam elsewhere too, even into Harden/Howard PnR defense, leaving Smith open at the 3-pt line if that’s where he happens to be. Yeah, Bogie’s not going to leave the paint. But he won’t have to. Smith is shooting < four 3-pointers per game, at .370. That's < 5 points per game. The Ws can afford to let him take those shots. I bet they will.

    The thing is, the Ws defense is FAR more active, better coordinated and simply far better than the Clippers', even on the 2nd team.

    Today's Rockets aren't the same team that the Ws faced throughout the season, and I think the playoffs helped them solidify too. But while Houston's offense seemed to improve throughout the playoffs, I didn't see the same from their D. In the last game, Prigioni was the best defender on the floor in crunch time.

    Prigioni.

    Warriors in 4 or 5.

  16. Felt,

    Excellent analysis as usual. I think Howard of 20 pts per game may be a stretch but even if he goes like that warriors will be okay as long as his D remains slow as I have seen in clippers series. Also concur on Ezeli playing big role in this series, hopefully though Kerr will play him.

    Another excellent point is Green at C, I think while Bogut at C will keep the game close or warriors with small lead, Green at C with Livingston at SF will be the lineup that will rock. When Howard is on floor, I would like to see Bogut , Green and Ezeli at C in that order. When their backups on floor, I would like to see Lee at C.

    Kerr has lot of weapons at his disposal, this is going to be one entertaining series. If they hack Bogut, they will get Green at C, they should be wary of that. If you hack Iguodala, he may knock down FTs or Livingston will play at SF. In essence, hacking startegy will only help them extend the game but won’t be able to do long enough to get anything out of it.

  17. Desk top calendar quote for the day:

    “Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.”

    -Norman Schwartzkopf

    I’m not sure about this one. I had two friends participate in Desert Storm and neither came out for the better. But they’re doing their best

    It’s crass to compare basketball to war, but just speaking in terms of strategy, Steph is a secret weapon that largely makes the Warriors the elite force that they are. His ability to shell the opponent from unrivaled range opens up the floor and forces the defense to cover even greater acreage, exposing them to more breaches. And the offense is presented with more floor space and options. Trenchmen like Gasol and ZBo are great at what they do, but they’re just outgunned. Even LeBron can’t spread the floor like Steph. But he presents problems of his own. He’s a heavily armored tank.
    Anthony Davis may the closest thing to a “Star Wars” type defense-system

    • I like the strategy of Gen’l Nathan Bedford Forest (CSA):

      “Get there the fustest with the mostest.”*

      Which I take to mean quick 3s, fast breaks, and early offense.

      *Apparently he didn’t say that. I don’t think anyone said what we thought they said.

      • COME ON BOYS, IF YOU WANT A HEAP OF FUN AND TO KILL SOME YANKEES”
        !

        • There are serious stains on his career.

          • Yeah. Pretty polarizing figure.

            I took a great elective class on the Civil War-era states at CSU Chico. Along with the history of American cinema, one of my favorites

  18. Just now watched a Bogut interview on CSN. He remarked on the difficulty of defending the Harden-Howard and Smith-Howard P&R — that he has to show on Harden, yet get back to prevent Howard lobs. He said its not easy and something the Warriors worked on and performed during the season and know how to do.

  19. Taking history as a guide, one might expect the Rockets to ease into this series after such a physical and emotional fight against the Clippers, and for Game 1 to be a bit of a blowout. If that happens, it won’t signify as much to me as it would if the game were competitive.

  20. The first 2 games will be Warrior
    blow-outs. Fast half-court sets
    will allow Warriors to dominate
    the paint. Howard to look
    Like he’s chasing his tail.
    Houston will be playing in slow
    motion running sets from the 50s.

    Hat lays out why Bogut will be shut
    down. To bad Felty doesn’t see the
    same thing.

    Nice playing a team that couldn’t
    Even outscore their last opponent.

  21. Bring on Atlanta!!

  22. Lee can’t play center. Where’s Howard?
    Livingston and Green-yes.

  23. Super fun game at the half

    Liv!! How many times has he gone coast to coast and taken the ball straight to the whole as a Warrior? That was the first time I can remember. He’s played great. Maybe he’s a $ player. Lord knows he’s makin enuff

    Hardens playing very well. Dwight looks pretty good too. But he’s still got the reptilian factor

    Warriors were getting their sea legs early

  24. The game would have been a blown out
    for the Warriors if Howard had played more
    than 27 minutes as Howard was 2-7 from
    the field, had five turnovers and his team
    was a minus 4 with Howard on the court.
    Also, if Thompson was not 6-18 from the field
    largely due to rushing and forcing shots the
    game would have been a blow out..
    Third straight great game for Livingston.
    Team was a plus 16 with him on the court more
    than any other Warrior.

    Warriors weakness on defense no matter who
    was playing center was being killed at the rim
    and on stop and passes inside or stop and pops.

    Warriors in good shape as long as Thompson
    plays within him selves. Harden had no trouble
    separating from Thompson on jump shots. Hope
    this game puts to rest that Thompson should be
    mentioned in the same breath as Harden.

  25. Houston coach an idiot
    for not calling a time-out during
    the Warriors run in first
    half.

  26. Pingback: Down Goes Dwight: Warriors 110 Rockets 106 - Feltbot's Warriors Blog

  27. The rev took the D off of Harden.

    DLee is done.

    Don’t let Ariza shoot 3’s uncontested.

    Let Terry and J a Smith shoot all they want.

    Why didn’t McHale play Terry less and Brewer more!

    Kerr stopped playing Bogut without much hesitation.

  28. Livingston, +16, Barnes, +14. Playoff Livingston and playoff Barnes.

  29. Thompson may well have a good game
    if he shoots solely from his known
    Hot spots. But shooting from new territory
    And rushing his shots has hurry his
    game. His main virtue as a player is his
    shooting as he rarely makes steals, offensive
    rebounds, assists, get to foul line, but
    does turn the ball over. his defense is ok,
    but virtually useless against a player like
    Harden who who is a master going to the
    hoop and taking step-backs, which cannot
    be stopped.

  30. Pingback: The Stephen Curry Problem: Warriors 115 Rockets 80 - Feltbot's Warriors Blog