Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Warriors Find Redemption in Tough Loss, Sputter out in Cleveland

It goes down as a loss in the records, but the Warriors should be proud of how they played against the Celts. They played scrappy and survived early Celtics runs and played a terrific second quarter, out scoring Boston 39-19. Every Warrior that played contributed in some way, specifically Maggette and Jack getting 32 and 30, respectively. Unfortunately for the Warriors, four out five Celtics starters scored 20 or more points and Boston closed out the game with stout defense, showing they are still NBA elite.

The game tonight in Cleveland couldn't have been more disappointing after such a great effort in Boston. The W's left the gate quickly and finished the first quarter ahead 32-29, but lost momentum after Stephen Jackson re-injured his left hand by reaching in on Ilgauskas and had to come out of the game. Again, a serious lack of energy allowed another Warriors opponent to inflate a large lead through easy points via offensive boards, made possible by dribble penetration. When the Warriors have success, its always going to be defensive effort that fuels the fire. I hate to make excuses, but traveling to Cleveland was a cruel back track before closing the trip in New York against the Knicks, not to mention it was the day after Thanksgiving. Also, expect Jamal Crawford to shoot better as he gets a feel for Don Nelson's offense and gets comfortable with his new squad. He looks like he's been forcing some things which is normal when a guy first comes to a new team, but he should be fine.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wizzards Pick Up Second Win Against Struggling Warriors

It was another embarrassing exhibition of basketball Tuesday night as the Warriors fell to the Wizzards 124-100. The Wizzards opened the game with high energy, possibly inspired by the recent firing of head coach Eddie Jordan, as rookie JaVale McGee threw down two fast break dunks within the first thirty seconds. The Warriors were executing well on offense, but gave up 11 points on turnovers in the first quarter alone. The Wizzards had no problem scoring on second chance points and converted on Warriors turnovers with high efficiency.

There is a natural law in basketball: easy baskets, like layups and dunks, lead to shooting a higher percentage from the perimeter. This law has worked against the Warriors in the last three games, as Don Nelson's small lineup has failed to finish defensive stands with offensive rebounds, leading to easy points for opponents and allowing opponents to expand leads with relaxed, effective three point shooting. The lineup also looks discombobulated without a proven point guard. There is no lack of fire power, but an absence of gritty workers. (Excluding Biedrins) The Warriors are like a 500 horse power muscle car with no steering wheel or a team of horses with nobody to control the reins. I shudder to think of this team without Captain Jack, but he needs to pump the brakes on his point forwarding.

In the last three losses, this Golden State squad has been careless with the basketball, lazy and timid on defense, and lacking of any chemistry necessary to win at an NBA level. It would help to remember some fundamentals: stop dribble penetration and box out on defense, move the basketball laterally when running the half court offense. What ever happened to drive and kick?

Tomorrow, the W's take on the Celts. I don't expect a win, but it would be nice to see this team attempt to play with some energy. Fight for rebounds, hustle to loose balls, take some charges and stay with guards that dribble penetrate.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Warriors Lack Energy in Two Consecutive Losses

Chances are you didn't see the Warriors game yesterday in Philly, being a radio only matinee at 2pm Pacific time. I'm glad I didn't have to watch because it was ugly early. The small Warriors lineup was brutalized on the glass by the big Sixes front line. Samuel Dalembert pulled 11 rebounds in the first quarter alone and Elton Brand finished the game with 23 points and 11 assists. The Sixers enjoyed as much as a 22 point advantage, but let the Warriors back into the game as Anthony Morrow tied the game at 76 with a three with 6:32. This comeback was futile thanks to an Andre Miller three with just over two minutes left to put Philly up six points.

The difference was the Sixers' advantage on the offensive glass, (22-11) that put the game out of reach early, not to mention numerous careless possessions by the Warriors. This game reminds me of games in past years versus Utah and San Antonio where big line-ups just punish Don Nelson's small lineup. The key to winning with a small lineup is playing with high energy to spark steals (=fastbreaks) and scraping for defensive rebounds to limit easy second chance points. In the last two losses to Chicago and Philadelphia, the Warriors have not brought enough energy work the small lineup to their advantage. I'm excited to see Tuesday how Jamal Crawford contributes to the Warriors offense. I am more concerned about how the W's will tighten up their defense. If I'm an opposing coach, I spread the floor, dribble penetrate relentlessly, and crash the boards when Biedrins or Turiaf come to help.

By the way, the Sixers won yesterday with no fastbreak points and the Warriors blocked 13 shots as a team.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Warriors Acquire Crawford For Harrington

The Warriors and Al Harrington finally parted ways on Friday. Harrington was dealt to the New York Knicks for G/F Jamal Crawford as the Warriors add yet another swingman to a team that already has Stephen Jackson, Corey Maggette and an emerging Anthony Morrow. I was hoping the Warriors would either get a solid young point guard, or another decent big man in return for Harrington. That said, Crawford is a proven scorer and will help this team more than Harrington was so I can't really complain about the deal. It does pose a question as to what will happen when Monta Ellis returns? In the meantime, it looks like Nelly is going to roll with Crawford at the point, with Morrow at the 2 and Jackson and Maggette up front with Biedrins. When Ellis returns, it may be him and Crawford in the back-court with Morrow to the bench. An unorthodox, small lineup indeed, but one that should score 100 points a night with ease. I don't know that this move puts the Warriors back into the playoff hunt in the tough Western Conference, as they still lack the size inside to match-up with the better teams, but if they can all get healthy, they're going to make things interesting.

I did want to mention Anthony Randolph in this post as he had his best night as a pro on Friday. The 19-year old had 10 points and 9 boards along with 4 blocked shots in only 13 minutes of play. The Warriors are desperate for one of their bigs to start helping out Andres Biedrins and after that performance, look for Nelly to give Randolph more opportunity Sunday in Philadelphia.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Warriors Beat Blazers, Morrow is Real Deal

Tonight's win over the Blazers is the best win of the season. Anthony Morrow followed his 37 point performance with 25. Jackosn and Maggette both added 20 points and 6 total Warriors reached double figures in scoring.Andris Biedrins finished one rebound short of getting his 17th double-double, scoring 17 and grabbing 9 boards. Andris had his hands full with Greg Oden, who dominated scoring 22 and pulling 10 boards. The Warriors shut down LaMarcus Aldridge, allowing him a measly 4 points. He fouled out early, collecting early offensive fouls against smaller quicker defenders.

The Warriors shooting has been off since last year minus Baron Davis (free agency) and Monte Ellis (injury). Stephen Jackson has been running the point, but shooting the three at a lower percentage. Maggette and Azubuike have aslo struggled from three. Al Harrington is virtually non-existent. Anthony Morrow has brought shooting efficientcy back to this team that hasn't seen it since Ellis. Plus, he shoots the three ball better. It will be interesting to see this team's scoring potential when Ellis comes back. In the mean time, the Warriors need to work out a deal for Harrington. Power forward of fast break point guard.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Morrow Outshines Baron in L.A.

Baron Davis certainly punished his former team scoring 25 points and dishing out 11 assists; however, nobody seemed to notice thanks to Anthony Morrow. Morrow, the sharp shooting undrafted rookie out of Georgia Tech scored 37. He took advantage of his first NBA start by shooting the lights out and went 4/5 from three-ville, carrying the W's to a comfortable victory.

Morrow's break out performance is a deep sigh of relief for Coach Nelson and Warriors fans. The Clips are not exactly formidable on D, but this is the NBA and Morrow proved he deserves to get touches.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Warriors Play Well Despite Youthful Mistakes

The Warriors should have been able to pull out a win tonight against the Pistons. Biedrins was all over the offensive glass, Jackson made plays on offense, and Maggette had a great start in the second half.

What happened? As coach Nelson identified, the Pistons used Rasheed Wallace as the center and moved him out to the perimeter in the middle of the third quarter. This opened space the paint for Iverson and Rip Hamilton to drive by the over matched Warriors back court. The Pistons also tightened up their D invited the W's to throw up perimeter shots that didn't fall.

The Warriors made a good push in the end, but the Pistons virtually ended the game when Rasheed Wallace nailed his second three pointer on consecutive possessions with roughly three minutes remaining in the game. The second three was at the expense of a careless C.J. Watson turnover, created by the hustle and awareness of Iverson.

The Warriors played a great first half and shot themselves in the foot with youthful mistakes down the stretch. Give credit to the Pistons and coach Michael Curry for making the right adjustments in the third quarter against crafty coach Nelson.

The Pistons are a deep team that can adapt to a variety of styles and have a chance to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Coach Nelson Beginning to Utilize the Bench

In the loss to the Grizzlies Saturday, we discovered there are jerseys under the shooting shirts of coach Nelson's bench. Anthony Randolf logged 17 minutes and Marcus Williams and Marco Belinelli played just under ten each. While it's encouraging to see Nelson show more confidence in the younger players, it is imperative to have Stephen Jackson or Andris Biedrins on the floor (preferably both) to lead this young group on the defensive side. The Warriors showed they can be easy to score on as O.J. Mayo singed them for 11 in the third quarter and the Grizzlies shot 60% in the second half.

If the W's don't play team defense, coach Nelson's philosophy is not effective. (No turnovers=no fastbreaks) The zone defense has looked good at times (against the Nuggets Wednesday), but frigid three point shooting has prevented the Warriors from pulling away down the stretch.

If the W's part with Harrington, they must get an athletic player that brings something to the fastbreak.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Wright Makes His Case

Unlike resent years, the Warriors now depend on the performance of the front line to win. Their is not much of a fast break without Davis and Ellis. Enter Brandan Wright, coming into the game to relieve a struggling Al Harrington. Wright put up 19 points and 11 rebounds, both career highs. When listening to the 'Don Nelson' show during Razor and Mr T (KNBR), Coach Nelson seemed impressed with Wright, but not fully sold. We know Nelly likes to have four players on the floor at all times that can shoot. Wright maybe has 15 ft. range if he's wide open, but his versatility can add to Nelly's run and gun more than you think. His length on defense can cause turn overs on the defensive end to ignite fast fast breaks, not to mention ability to gather loose balls and defensive rebounds.

The Warriors should continue to start Wright and bring in Harrington while leading to finish teams off. That is, until Harrington is dealt.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Who To Target For Harrington?

Al Harrington has demanded a trade and Don Nelson has made it clear over the past couple days that he Harrington will get his wish, likely sooner than later. It's no secret that the Warriors are looking for a decent player in return for Harrington who, when right, can be one of the top scoring forwards in the league, and they have a big hole at the point guard position right now. Here are a few ideas as far as players to target for Harrington.

Kyle Lowry, PG Memphis: Not the most exciting point guard out there, but very solid all around, especially on the defensive end of the court. The Warriors reportedly had interest in the 22 year-old Memphis guard last season as a back-up to Baron Davis before the trade deadline, but nothing ever materialized. Lowry has never really gotten big minutes, but in those rare occasions, he has looked worthy. Memphis would love to add a scoring forward like Harrington who could help out Marc Gasol and Darrell Arthur. The Grizzlies are also seeking an outside shooter and Harrington (11 three's in five games) would fit that mold. Harrington is more valuable right now than Lowry, so maybe a Harrington for Lowry and Quinton Ross, who would be another very good defender off the bench, might spark the W's interest.

Raymond Felton, PG Charlotte: The Bobcats aren't likely to part with Felton too soon, but they did just draft D.J. Augustin and he figures to be their point guard of the future. A potential frontline of Harrington-Wallace-Okeafor looks pretty darn good, not too mention versatile and athletic, so that may entice the Bobcats to make a move for the disgruntled Warrior. The Cats and the Warriors just made a huge trade a little over a year ago (J-Rich for Brandan Wright) so they something tells me they'll be in contact with each other. However, Felton is still very much a part of the Bobcat rotation so the Warriors may need to offer more to pry him away. He would be an ideal fit here though and could become a terrific 6th man off the bench once Monta Ellis returns.

Sebastien Telfair, PG Minnesota: Telfair is probably more attainable than the two guards above, but still has a spot with the T-Wolves so they aren't going to give him away. The T-Wolves don't really need Harrington, but they may have interest in him as a mentor to Kevin Love as well as Corey Brewer. Not to mention it would give them a rock solid front-court led by Harrington, Love and Al Jefferson with Corey Brewer and Ryan Gomes in the mix as well. The T-Wolves also have Randy Foye who they have starting at the point, but it looks like they aren't 100% sold on him manning that position (some feel he's more suited for the 2 spot) so they may hesitate to deal Telfair until they figure that out. If the Warriors could somehow acquire him, something tells me the youngster from Brooklyn could take his game to the next level under the tutelage of Don Nelson and playing with Monta Ellis and Stephen Jackson.

Stephon Marbury, PG New York: I've mentioned Marbury here before so you already know my feeling on that situation. The Knicks reportedly contacted the Warriors about Harrington though, and you have to believe that Marbury's name was brought up. Marbury can still play. If he's healthy, which he apparently is, he's still a top 15-20 point guard in this league, maybe not quite as good as Chauncey Billups, but not far behind. The only problem with him is his large contract and his recent injury woes. If the W's could get the Knicks to eat a large portion of that then it would seem like a pretty good fit for both teams.

Again, these names are just pure speculation, but they are players who have been made available, and the proposals I mentioned would really work out for both parties involved. Anyway, the Warriors should be targeting a point guard in this deal, and they should be able to get one that can start for them until Ellis comes back. If they can't do that, there really is no sense in trading Harrington unless they are getting another player of equal value, or somebody's first rounder for next year.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Impeach Warriors' President Rowell

The embarrassing loss to Memphis told much about this ever developing Warriors team. Every time Al Harrington touched the basketball, I thought, "No!". He's a black hole when the ball touches his hands. I would go as far as saying he is a waste of space. His shooting is streaky, he rarely takes advantage of mismatches in the post, and he hardly rebounds. He is one of the softest 6'-9" players in the League. (Maybe a possible trade for a decent point guard?) Maggette has been bad, but I think he would be more effective along side a point guard to run the show.

I am more concerned about the future of this still rebuilding franchise. I would like to believe the return of Monte Ellis will spark a return to their winning ways, but the situation is more complex behind the scenes. And behind the scenes I refer to Warriors team president Robert Rowell.

This smug, little egotistical suit is doing his best to stunt the Warriors' growth as an organization. His fine on Ellis is beyond excessive, leaving the 23 year old feeling alienated and resentful, and he has publicly patronized Chris Mullen in the Ellis press conference. Mullen's contract expires after this season and there have been no discussions of contract extension. I wager Mullen is out next season.

I have a brooding feeling that Rowell could very well be the next prodigal Bay Area Sports executive behind the 49ers York family and the Raiders Al Davis.

In the spirit of election night, get this weasel out of power as the team president before he pisses off everyone in the organization. If Rowell costs the Warrior's Ellis in the long run, Monte will put up 40 every time he comes back to Oracle.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Warriors Looking Sloppy Early

Yes, the Warriors are missing their most talented player in Monta Ellis, but that doesn't excuse them for the way they have started the season. After just getting by New Jersey on Saturday for their first win of the season, the Warriors rolled into Memphis and had their rears handed to them by a Grizzly team in full rebuild mode. The Warriors could have won each of their first two games this season, but didn't look good in the 4th quarter and couldn't hang onto the games. But they've basically been in each of their first 4 games. That wasn't the case for Monday's game which was just all around ugly. The Warriors only managed 79 points against the Grizzlies while getting only 19 points from there two starting forwards Corey Maggette (13) and Al Harrington (6). Harrington needs to score at least 15 points a night to be of any value to this team because he doesn't play very good defense and he's not a great rebounder. Maggette has been pretty quiet in his first week as a Warrior. He struggled at the end of the Toronto game on Halloween and missed some crucial shots late in the game that could have brought the Warriors back, then didn't show up at all really in the Memphis game as the Warriors went quietly in the second half.

While Harrington and Maggette need to be more consistent, I am liking what I've seen in Stephen Jackson and Andris Biedrins. Jackson is leading the team in scoring through the first 4 games and Biedrins is staying true to form as he just keeps getting better and better each year. Biedrins was averaging 18 points and 12 boards before Monday nights 16-22 effort. Over the last 2 years, Don Nelson has tended to site Biedrins late in games due to his free throw percentage, but so far this year, Biedrins is showing that he needs to be on the floor at all times.

Note: The Warriors have not been getting consistent play out of their point guard position early on and with the way things are going for Stephon Marbury in New York, I can't help but think of a possible Knicks-Warriors trade. I talked about this possibility before the season when Marbury was on the trade block and now it just looks like it's a matter of time before Marbury is out. Not sure what the Knicks would want in return for Steph, but it can't be too much. I know Marbury is no longer the star he was 5-10 years ago, but I still think he has some good years left and can still play at a pretty high level. The Warriors need someone who can handle the ball and take the pressure off of Captain Jack, and Marbury could be that guy. Most likely, it's not going to happen, but keep an eye on this situation.