Friday, January 30, 2009

Warriors Defense Fuels Gritty Road Win

After losing ugly in Dallas, the Warriors took back some dignity with an exciting road win against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. It was the Warriors' scrappy defense, holding the Hornets to 36% shooting, that made this gritty road win possible.

Every Golden State player Don Nelson inserted into the game played with high energy and gave the best defensive effort I've seen all season. My player of the game award goes to Corey Maggette, who finished with 19 and caught fire in forth quarter to close out the game.

Chris Paul scored 31 points, but none of his team mates were able share the offensive burden. The best way to defend the Hornets is make Chris Paul an outside shooter and let him score, rather than give up dribble penetration and open three point looks or alley-oops. The Hornets certainly missed Tyson Chandler (left ankle), but the Warriors executed fantastically on defense. And I'd willing to bet that this win coupled with the return of Ellis may push the Warriors into a nice groove.

The All Star reserves have just come out and I'm glad to see 'Warriors killer' Jameer Nelson make the team. He was a top notch college player at St. John's, and has developed into a solid NBA player. I'm not disgruntled about the Warriors-free West All-Star roster, but if Anthony Morrow doesn't make the three point shootout, I'm not watching it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Blake Griffin Atop Warriors' Wishlist

The Warriors have been resting the past two days and prepare for a three game road trip down South to wrap up January, beginning in Dallas on Wednesday night. Good news is Jamal Crawford expects to suit up, allowing us to finally see Crawford and Ellis in the backcourt together.

Last night, however; I had no NBA action to watch. This is fine because I love college hoops, too. I like to scout out teams that can take me all the way in the March Madness bracket pool at work and drool over "could be" Warriors if they continue to lose and increase their chances for a lottery pick.

The college hoops player I most desire to be in a Warriors uniform is Blake Griffin of Oklahoma University. Griffin is averaging 22 points per game and 14 rebounds for the Sooners this season. Last night he put up 26 and 19 in a road win over rival Oklahoma State. The 6'10" Griffin is indeed a unique talent, possessing the strength to contend with Western Conference power forwards and the athleticism and mobility to put the ball on the floor and create for himself as well as run the length of the court in transition. His only flaws are sometimes turning the ball over when the inevitable double team arrives and his 60% FT shooting. If the Warriors were able to get Griffin without giving up too much, their chances to be in the playoffs would increase tremendously.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ellis Provides Depth to Warriors Roster

I just got back from Oracle Arena and it was nice to see the Warriors win a laugher after dropping two straight buzzer beaters at home. The injury depleted Clippers had 7 players out and suited the league minimum 8 players. Unfortunately, there was no Baron Davis homecoming. Other sorely missed Clippers were Chris Kamen, Marcus Camby, and Zack Randolf. If the W's didn't win tonight, there would be serious problems.

The return of Monta Ellis is the biggest news in Warrior world. For Warriors fans that have watched Ellis mature over the past several years, it's easy to see Monta has grown up since last year. He's covered in tattoos, sporting a little chin hair, and walks with a swagger. When he's on the court, he expects to score. Over the past two games, Ellis has shown signs of his old explosiveness, but he has not been hitting the mid range jumper, a shot he made at a high percentage last season. He also hasn't been getting all the way to the rim in traffic as we have seen in the past. Instead, Monta has attempted runners and floaters in the lane. But I am not concerned. In fact, I love the new, more confident, tatted up Monta, who is eager to prove it was a smart idea to sign him long-term. His stamina will return and so will his mid range J. The next step in Monta's game will be his three point shot. Yes, expect Monta to take more three's and hit at a good percentage.

With Ellis in the lineup, do the W's have a chance to make the playoffs? Its tough to say because we haven't seen this team with all players healthy. I'm excited to see Crawford and Ellis together in the back court, complimented by a solid bench. (Maggette, Randolf, Morrow, Turiaf, and Watson) Picking them playoffs might be too lofty, but the Warriors will have enough depth to beat the teams they should have like the Grizzlies, Thunder, Kings, and T'Wloves. Playoffs??!! Play-offs?!! (Jim Mora)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

No Biedrins the Difference in Loss to Thunder

The Warriors thought they had it sewn up against the Thunder after Jamal Crawford banked in a sweet floater to put the W's up one with 1.2 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately, one second was all Jeff Green needed to bank an 18 footer to beat the buzzer, win the game, and send Warriors fans home open-mouthed.

Green's game winner was not lucky and the Warriors have no one to blame but themselves. They could have avoided this anticlimactic loss by being up more than one point. Lets face it, the Warriors didn't deserve to win, despite decent play by a few guys. Maggette had a nice game and fueled a flurry of Warriors fast-breaks in the third quarter to build momentum. He finished with 26 points in 31 minutes. Stephen Jackson got a bit stubborn with the ball trying to campaign for calls, but his presence on the court is the only reason the Warriors were in the game at all. Azuibuke has been deftly efficient with his shooting, going 9-10 for 21 points in this game and gaving his team solid defensive effort.

However, the Warriors' odds of winning dropped tremendously before the game even started when it was announced Andris Biedrins would not play. Andris Biedrins is the only player on this team that is consistently willing to rebound. As usual, the Warriors will be haunted by failing to collect defensive rebounds after strong defensive stands. Biedrins is the one player the Warriors cannot be without. Turiaf played 40 minutes and only pulled 6 rebounds. Biedrins will pull at least 12 to 17, so that's at least six rebounds left out on the floor. Those six or so less posessions are the difference between winning and losing.

The Warriors were hurt in the match up between Crawford and Westbrook. Crawford went 4-12 for 13 points and made 4 turnovers. Westbrook, a rookie out of UCLA, looked like Tony Parker against this pathetic defense. He's a good player, especially for a rookie, but he often plays out of control and turnover prone. He almost always goes right and shoots 40% from the field and 29% from three. Its expected for Kevin Durrant and Jeff Green to go for 20 if not 30 points, but Westbrook's 30 was what won the game for Oklahoma City.

Outside of Stephen Jackson, the Warriors have no defensive prowess and their small lineup fails in the half court when teams play zone and pack the lane. We saw for a brief moment how good the Warriors were when they pushed the ball ahead in the fastbreak. Granted, the Thunder are meshing into a respectable basketball team, but there is a reason they lost so many games. They play poor transition defense and its a shame the Warriors couldn't get more plays going in the open floor.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Warriors Win Again, Maggette Thrives as Sixth Man

As the All-Star break approaches, the Warriors are coming together nicely and Don Nelson's lineup is becoming less experimental. Specifically, I refer to Corey Maggette's new role as sixth man. It's strange to consider a guy who scored 22 points per game last year as a sixth man, but it has proven to be best for Corey and the team.

By coming off of the bench, Maggette can come into the game looking to do what eh does best, which is attack the rim and score. Not only has he put up points in the past few games, but he has made an effort to rebound, something this team needs more than anything at this point. With the immanent return of Monte Ellis, Maggette's role of the sixth man should become more set, with Anthony Randolf as the seventh man. With Belinelli and Wright on the inactive list, Morrow and Randolf should see plenty of opportunity to prove themselves. Randolf has already shown he can be a solid contributor in many facets, but Morrow's future is still in the air. Its obvious he can shoot from long distance at a very high percentage. He can't really put it on the floor if he's crowded, but he can catch and shoot as good as Ray Allen, Daequan Cook ,or any three point sniper. Seriously, he's deadly. Morrow just needs to be out there with Crawford, Jackson, or someone who can get in the paint and has the vision to dish it out to Morrow planted beyond the arc.

With upcoming home games against manageable opponents, the W's should be able to get some games back from the losses taken during some of the ugly road trips earlier this year.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Warriors Welcome Back Ellis

Monta Ellis is getting close to suiting up and actually playing a game for Golden State after he practiced fully and successfully on Tuesday. He didn't play vs. Sacramento as the Warriors lost another heart-breaker, 135-133. Putting Ellis back into the mix is going to be a welcome sight for sore eyed Warrior fans who have had to endure the likes of CJ Watson and DeMarcus Nelson running to point in Ellis' absence. This is still pretty much a lost season for the W's though, so expecting any sort of drastic change to how their season is going would not be accurate, even with Ellis in the mix. Now don't get me wrong the Warriors are a much better team with Ellis in there and it will show, but as they sit at 11-29 at the unofficial mid-way point in the season, making the playoffs in the tough Western Conference is not going to happen.

They aren't going to make any playoff noise this season, but with Ellis getting healthy, the Warriors brass and Nelly really need to figure out just what this team can do over the second half. The Warriors are going to be in position to possibly land a lottery pick and this time around they need to draft for their needs rather then taking who they think the best all-around player available is. Their drafting strategy has been horrific since Ellis and Biedrins had their names called a few years back, and that needs to change. I'm not ready to declare Anthony Randolph a bust quite yet, but he and Brandan Wright have underachieved mightily with Golden State. Marco Bellineli has put together some decent games as injuries forced him into the lineup, but he's still inconsistent and so far, in 3 NBA seasons, has not looked like a player that is ever going to be a successful starter in this league. Again, it's still early in these guys' careers and things could change, but the bad drafting and poor personal decisions that lead to the Warriors demise from the mid-90's until the addition of Baron Davis have resurfaced here in Oakland and the Warriors pathetic play has proven it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Warriors Edge Pacers in a Nail Biter

The Warriors survived a 42 performance by Danny Granger, who has emerged as an elite offensive NBA player and legitimate 'Warrior Killer', to defeat the Pacers 120-117. The Warriors shot the ball well tonight, as they did last night in the disappointing loss to the Blazers. Last night, lack of defensive rebounding cost the game and tonight it was an abundance of sloppy turnovers that allowed the game to be a nail-biting finish.

After a poor showing last night, Anthony Randolf brought the Warriors back into the game with energetic rebounding and defense. Randolf made good decisions with the ball and it was obvious he was playing within himself. Coach Nelson is running out of excuses to keep Randolf on the bench, especially with the sudden barrage of injuries that have recently hit the W's. Brandan Wright's shoulder, Jackson's hammy, Belinelli's ankle, and Monte is still day to day.

It's nice to see the Warriors come out on top of an exciting finish in front of the best fans in the NBA. If the W's are in the game in the final minutes at Oracle, the crowd will always give the Warriors the advantage regardless of the opponent.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Small Ball No Match For Gasol

The Warriors fared decently against the NBA's best team Friday night. The Lakers seemed to toy with this mangy Warriors squad played without team captain Stephen Jackson. Despite playing their second game in as many days, the Lakers started strong until the Warriors made some stops that led to converted fast breaks and a 31 point second quarter.

The Warriors put out a terrific effort for the home crowd, but the desparity in talent was clear when the game was on the line in the forth quarter. Marco Belinelli had the most undesirable task of guarding Kobe and actually did okay. He beat Kobe off the dribble for a lefty layup, picked Kobe, and did well to deny him the ball in the Lakers' half court offense. Ooh, but when Kobe had Marco one on one, you didn't need HDTV to see the fear in Marco's eyes. In the second half, Kobe posterized Marco as he blew past him and finished witha tamahwk jam. (Actually, Marco was beat so bad he probably didn't make the poster). Brandan Wright played magnificently until being injured defending a Pao Gasol jam. Wright's sudden absence allowed neccesitated an anthony Randolf appearance. Randolf ran the floor and blocked shots, but was abused by Andrew Bynum inside. Randolf also turned the ball over on silly feet shuffling travel and blew several defensive assignents in transition.

In the end, Bynum and Gasol balanced with the perimeter play of Kobe and Trevor Ariza made the Warriors look like the "little midgets" Charles Barkley not-so-affectionately dubbed Nellie ball. The Warriors are an undersized team built to score by converting in transition. The only problem is this W's team without Baron and Monte, does not execute the fast break particularly well. Nellie doesn't have the players to run small ball and would be better suited to go big. He won't, though.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Is Don Nelson Losing On Purpose?

There was an article by Lowell Cohn in last Sunday's Press Democrat that suggests the Warriors are tanking this season in order to get a good daft pick next year. Cohn's argument was based on how the W's could beat the Celtics and Raptors at home, yet lose to Oklahoma City and Minnesota on the road, you know, so the fans won't stop coming to games. At first I thought this article was a bit preposterous, filler material for a lack of NBA news, but now I agree with Cohn's suspicion and his resentment of Don Nelson.

The Warriors played a great game against the Jazz. Granted, the Jazz played without All-Star forward Carlos Boozer, but the W's shot out of the gate firing on all cylinders. They jumped out to a 13-4 lead early, until Jerry Sloan stopped the damage with a timeout. The Warriors were in this game all the way, until they lost it in the end...or so it would appear. I think this game was lost with about 10:45 to go in the forth quarter and the responsible party is Don Nelson. The line-up Nelson had in the game should have been in if the Warriors were losing by 20 with less than five minutes to play. He had CJ Watson, Anthony Morrow, Jamal Crawford, Rob Kurz, and Roni Turiaf.??? Its like Don Nelson pulled a Pete Rose, but bet against his team. I know there were guys in foul trouble and Jack was hurt, but what is Nelson thinking? Marco and Brandan need to be in the game. The team needs Belinelli's shooting and Wright's length on defense and rebounding. And where the heck is Anthony Randolf?!

At this point I can't blame the players for turning the ball over, or not rebounding, or taking awful shots. Now, I blame Don Nelson for not playing the guys on the roster that give this team the best chance to win. You can't play Kurz, CJ, and Morrow together. They need to play with the experienced line-up so they don't force the issue and make bad decisions with the ball.

I respect what Don Nelson has done in the past, but I hate that he is signed on for two more years. I wish Keith Smart was coaching this team. I think it was dumb to sign Stephen Jackson to a contract extension as well. I hate how Chris Mullin's fingerprint is no longer on this team. There have been some terrible basketball choices this year by this organization and the always loyal Warriors fans have every right to be pissed off.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Warriors Get Beat By Thunder

How can a team beat the Celtics, then turn around and lose to a team like the Thunder? It's simple. The Warriors are the youngest team in the NBA and young teams tend to struggle on the road, yet play above expectations at home. The last home win against Toronto and the previous win over Boston displayed that Oracle is still one of the toughest venues in the league.

The only bright spots in the loss to the Thunder were the performances of Kelenna Azubuike and CJ Watson. They were the only two players that seemed to remember the opponent was the lowly Thunder, combining for 40 points and 13 of 22 shooting. Its becoming more apparent that Watson is a player with special talents on offense.

After this last pitiful loss, this much is evident: the W's can lose to any team on the road, however; they can beat any team in the league at home in the roaring Oracle Arena.