Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Warriors Lose Opener to Rockets

The home opener against the Rockets at Oracle was supposed to be a winnable game. This Houston team was without Yao, T-Mac, or Artest. Also, the Rockets were on the second game of a back to back, in which the first game was a loss to the Blazers. This was the perfect opportunity for this Warriors team to set the tone for the season. Wasn't the pressure on the Rockets? How good is Scola with no Yao? Is Ariza worth the big contract? (So far the answer is yes, but let's wait until the Rockets play the Lakers and Spurs)

The first half went the Warriors way. The offense looked sharp, highlighted as Curry found open team mates, including Monta for a baseline dunk and Morrow for an open three pointer off a jump ball. At the half, the Warriors led 62-52, thanks to Anthony Randolph's buzzer beating three. The lead would have been greater if not for the Rockets three point shooting. (By that I refer to the Rockets's "overpaid role player" Trevor Ariza knocking down repeated uncontested three's) Did anyone on the W's coaching staff watch the playoffs last year?! Ariza hits catch and shoot three's all night. Ariza killed the Warriors going 4-9 from three point land, looking like a polished Matt Barnes.

Of course I must offer my points of criticism, since playing good basketball is so obvious from the couch with a mouth full of popcorn. Maggette. Don't shoot it!!! You went 3-14 from the floor and missed badly down the stretch. If Jackson, Morrow, Curry, and Ellis are on the floor, don't shoot it unless you are taking the ball to the rim. That is your game, not perimeter jumpers! Maggette is in the game for his ability to get to the free throw line when the team struggles from the field. He shot the team out of the game.

Stephen Curry was very impressive in his professional debut. He showed unbelievable maturity and great decision making on the floor, choosing to facilitate rather than score. Just imagine how effective he could be if he played off guard and received the ball instead of distributed. He would shoot high a percentage. I would like to see Curry look for his shot more frequently, but I understand wanting to be diplomatic in his debut. The kid is smart, a natural leader.

Ellis was good, scoring a team high 26 points and shooting 50 percent from the floor. Monta's only flaw was foul trouble that kept him out of the fourth quarter.

Anthony Morrow got the Rockets attention, drawing the coverage of All-League defender Shane Battier. Morrow would only score 7 in the game.

Stephen Jackson finished with 17 points, second behind Ellis' 20. Jackson appeared to give max effort when on the floor, but didn't seem to have the notable impact on the game Warrors fans have grown accustomed to. Stack Jack played 34 minutes, where he has typically played at least 40 in previous years. In fact, no one on the Warriors played more than 40 minutes. It's weird to see Nelson divide minutes symmetrically.

The Warriors looked disjointed. Rick Adleman's well coached, defensively organized ball club made the Warriors look like YMCA pick-up scrubs in the second half. The Warriors stopped moving the ball and didn't attack the lane, neglecting to take advantage of Houton's lack of a shot blocking presence. The Rockets took momentum in the second half starting 10 of 10 from the field, never looking back as the Warrirs scrambled to catch up. Perimeter defense is the Warriors glaring weakness after the first game, coupled with offensive impatience and imbalance. The Warriors are not the type of team built to get defensive stops, but their only chance to win depends on creating turnovers. Pretty ironic, huh?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Curry will be a starter

Stephen Curry tallied 14 points, 10 rebounds, 6 rebounds, and 6 steals in the Warriors pre-season win over the Hornets Thursday night at Oracle.
Don Nelson likes Curry and will play him. Curry is mature beyond his age, does what Nelson says, and can flat out shoot. If given the playing time, which seems likely, Curry will win the rookie of the year award. Blake Griffin is great, but he is surrounded by too many other proven players. In Golden State, Curry assumes a role of greater responsibility and will get the minutes to amass big numbers.

It's difficult to keep Morrow out of the starting line-up, but the Warriors need someone to take care of the ball, as Morrow and Ellis are both better off the ball players. If Ellis struggles, I would like to see Morrow and Curry play together.
Despite the drama and frustration, I am excited for the beginning of another season. I am intrigued with all that could be. Will Anthony Morrow carry his blistering .519 three point shooting percentage into the regular season? Can Anthony Randolph play well enough to stay in Don Nelson's line-up? Will Curry and Ellis build chemistry (at least on offense)? Will Stephen Jackson finish the season as a Warrior?

Speaking of Jackson (I couldn't make a post and not mention Jack)...He is not as untradeable as he was over the past month. Granted, he had a bad showing in the Oct. 9 pre-season game against the Lakers, letting Kobe get under his skin. To Jack's credit, he came back Oct. 20 and played well against Kobe and the Lakers, scoring 15 points, dishing out 10 assists, and shooting 4-7 from 3-point range.

How can Cav's G.M.Danny Ferry not be all over Jackson? Sure, Jack has a beefy contract for a 31 year old, but come on. The Cavs are going to have trouble getting past the magic and Celts, they need a guy that hit big shots and make free throws when LeBron gets doubled and quintuple teamed every time he steps in the lane. Shaq won't make clutch free throws and might not be healthy to shoot them in June. Jackson is the perfect guy for Cleveland's defense first philosophy. He can match up on Paul Pierce, Vince Carter, and maybe Kobe if the Cavs face the Lakers in the finals.

Don't let Jackson go for nothing! He can be disruptive when disgruntled, but he can play out of his mind when fired up.

Friday, October 16, 2009

2009-10 Eastern Conference Predictions

2009-10' Eastern Conference Playoff Predictions & Power Rankings

1. Celtics- Would have been nice to have Rasheed Wallace last year went KG went down. Back to being a defensive powerhouse. Depth will get them far, but not all the way.

2. Magic- Magic add VC, lose Turkoglu. Dwight Howard always gives them a chance to win, but team will go as far as Jameer Nelson takes them.

3. Cavs- Tough to live up to last year's 66 wins, won't be as good as last year. Shaq no match for Dwight Howard. Championship or not, this is LeBron's last season in Cleveland.

4. Hawks- Loads of offense, lack of commitment to play defense stands in the way of playing in the Conference championship.

5. Heat- D-Wade surrounded by an army of three point snipers should make for potent attack. Defense is questionable, separating Heat from top 3 in the East.

6. Pacers- Good combination of established veterans and young talent. Unfortunate injuries kept them out last year, shouldn't be the case this season.

7. Bulls- A full season with John Salmons should negate the loss of Ben Gordon. Interesting to see if young talent will show development, especially after last year's first round thriller against the Celts.

8. 76ers- Lou Williams steps in for departed Andre Miller at the point. Williams is a better scorer, but not a pass first mentality like Miller. Elton Brand will never play a full season the remainder of his career.

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(not in playoffs)

9. Pistons- The loss of Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace show signs of rebuilding. Not enough minutes and touches for both Ben Gordon, Rip Hamilton, and Rodney Stuckey. I'm not sold on Charlie Villanueva.

10. Raptors- Turkoglu won't be as effective without Howard and Lewis.
11. Wizards- This team has the talent to make the playoffs, but injuries will leave the Wizards with a skeleton crew down the stretch...again.

12. Bucks- Lot's of young talent, no defense or chemistry.

13. Bobcats- Another mediocre year for the Bobcats.

14. Nets- The Nets won't win many games, but Devin Harris will have a killer year for fantasy hoops players...if that means anything.

15. Knicks- Knicks will dwell in the basement another year dreaming of LeBron and high draft pick next off-season . That is, unless Jay-Z and the Russian zillionaire can lure King James to Brooklyn in 2010.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jackson Trade Looks Unfeasable

The Stephen Jackson issue, if your not sick of hearing about it, continues to spiral out of control. I subscribed to Don Nelson's assurance that Jackson would be his usual productive self on the court, despite wanting to get out of Oakland.

Wrong.

There is no doubt Jackson's sour attitude is evident on the court, judging from his behavior in the Oct. 9 game against the Lakers, resulting in a two game suspension.

I'm sick of this story like everyone else. Everyone is to blame. Idiot owner Chris Cohen, foolish team president Bobby Rowell, meddling Don Nelson, the puppet Larry Riley, and of course the"evil" Stephen Jackson. All of these people are awful. Just follow college hoops this year. The Warriors are lucky the Kings are not what they were in 2002, the band wagon fans would be running for Arco.

Jackson wants to be traded, the Warriors say there are no reasonable trades on the table. Now there's talk of a buy out...Jackson doesn't think it's going to happen and neither do I.

Here's my solution: Every team in the league feels they have leverage over the Warriors, so they are probably throwing out insulting offers to Riley. If Riley can't get a player that will improve the team, now or in the future, don't pull the trigger! Don't go from bad to worse! Sit on Jackson. Give him the Stephon Marbury treatment. Keep him away from the team and fine him if he tries to meddle.

Chalk it up as a loss, but don't let him ruin the future. The now is already lost.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2009-10 Western Conference Predictions

2009-10 Western Conference Playoff Predictions & Power
Rankings:


1. Lakers- Only got better adding Artest, important retaining Odom. Best in the NBA are only better as Kobe makes his run at Jordan the next three seasons.

2. Blazers- Andre Miller makes good bench great by adding veteran leader to deep, talented roster.

3. Nuggets- Rookie Ty Lawson should make immediate impact, bench second to Portland.

4. Spurs -Richard Jefferson insurance for potential Manu injury, as rookie Wagner is for Duncan. If no injuries, Spurs contend with L.A. to rep West in Finals

5. Mavs- Dirk, J-Kidd, Josh Howard, and new addition Shawn Marion, not to mention the league's best sixth man J Terry...Reminds me of the Suns team five years ago.

6. Jazz- D-Will leads familiar nucleus. Second best half court executing team to the Lakers, toughest to beat at home.

7. Hornets- Omeka Okafor upgrade from Tyson Chandler, not enough depth to contend in playoffs.

8. Grizzlies- Iverson will help in beginning, but not finish the season. This allows backcourt to be more fresh down the stretch and into the playoffs.
___________________________________________________________________ (Not in Playoffs)

9. Suns- Nash, Hill older, and not as many shooters. I hate to think of the post-Nash rebuilding years.

10. Rockets-No Yao means no playoffs. McGrady's health still questionable and Ariza overrated.

11. Thunder- Two years and a center away from being a playoff team. Best young team in the league.

12. Warriors- Brandan Wright's injury doesn't help already depleted front line. Warriors will be laughing stock outside of Stephen Curry. He'll be the diamond in the rough.

13. Clippers- Better then last season, not by much. Injuries to Baron and Kaman highly probable.

14. Timberwolves- Good young talent, Jefferson top 3 big, but still rebuilding next 2-4 years.

15. Kings- Like T'Wolves, plenty of young talent with undefined NBA roles. This season will be a cacophony of growing pains in Sac-town.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Warriors beat Clippers in pre-season opener

Basketball is back, as the Warriors took the floor at Oracle Arena for their first pre-season game, a 108-101 win over the Clippers.
Would Stephen Jackson get booed? Would Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry play together? Which role player would step up and show the most improvement?

Jackson received a mix of boos and cheers, but his quick scoring to start the game reminded the home crowd at Oracle he is still the go-to man. Just because Jackson is upset with management, he's not going to give less effort on the court. If anything he will play as well as he has in years. One reason is to showcase his value to potential teams, another to stick it to the Warriors front office. Jackson may not be the best thing for the Warriors future, but you can't say he doesn't leave his best effort on the court.

Ellis and Curry did not play together at any point in the contest and were not the most impressive Warriors, although Curry did have nine assists against three turnovers.

Anthony Morrow had the team high with 21 points and Kelenna Azubuike had 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Brandan Wright re-injured his left (shooting) shoulder in the game, an injury that happened last season in a game against the Lakers. Wright attempted to block a Pau Gasol dunk resulting in a separated left shoulder. Wright's injury is especially devastating to a Warriors team desperately in need of front court contributions. Coach Nelson said that Wright was having a better camp than Anthony Randolph. Perhaps this dilemma will light a fire under Larry Riley to move Jackson for a serviceable power forward and some draft picks. Azubuike looks like he could fill the small forward position nicely.

Warriors pre-season hits the road as the W's take on the defending champion Lakers tonight in Anaheim. No TV, no radio.