Friday, December 31, 2010

Warriors barely beat Bobcats 96-95

The Warriors beat the Bobcats by one point and could have easily lost. If Stephen Jackson hits that three to beat the Warriors on the last shot, it would have erased any momentum left over from the three game win streak (before the loss to the Hawks) and negated the dramatic finish in Sacramento Dec. 21.

This game was ugly, sloppy, and poorly played by both teams. Even the officials struggled to make simple calls in this game. Officials David Guthrie, Ron Garretson and Karl Lane couldn't please either side as they called touchy fouls, yet allowed rough play at times. The worst officiating blunder came with 1:36 in the game when Boris Diau caught his own air ball for a put back miss and play continued without a traveling violation. Guthrie nearly gave the ball to the Bobcats, but they got it right and gave the ball back to Golden State.

None of these officials will work the playoffs (and might not finish the season) as they made the league look bad with the way they handled this game.

In the actual game, the Warriors started off with blistering hot shooting, as they went 7-7 and jumped out to a 16-4 lead. They cooled off and started to miss shots. The Bobcats did well to clean the defensive glass and push the ball on the Warriors, who played poor transition defense. The Warriors played some really uninspired basketball during the second quarter and would have got down by more if they were playing a higher quality opponent. Thankfully the Bobcats are happy to turn the ball over and Stephen Jackson didn't have a good game.

Steph Curry had a nice game in his return home to the Queen city. Curry was 10-17, hit his first four three point shots, and finished the game with 24 points. Ellis scored 25 points, and Dorell Wright contributed 17 on 6-13 shooting.

The officials missed some calls down the stretch that could have really hurt the Warriors, but sloppy play was more to blame for the mini-collapse in the fourth quarter. The inability to secure defensive rebounds gave the Bobcats chance after chance. That will be something the Warriors will focus on and it will be a problem that corrects itself upon the return of Andris Biedrins.

The Warriors play the Heat tomorrow, a nasty match up for a back to back. Hopefully the big three are partying tonight and come into the game hungover. That would be the Warriors only shot because the Heat are, in this fan's opinion, the second best team in the league right now next to the Spurs.

Happy new year Warriors fans. May 2011 be filled with good health and success.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Warriors fall to Hawks 103-93 in first game of East coast trip

To ask the Warriors to beat the Hawks in Atlanta would have been too much. Not completely out of the question, but several Warriors would have had to contribute big. Dorell Wright played the best game of his career as he scored 32 points (career high), grabbed 11 boards, and made two steals. D-Wright was also 4-9 from three point range. The Warriors also got 10 points from Lou Amundson, who played his best game in a Warriors uniform. If I didn't see the stats of Warriors not named Dorell or Lou, I would have assumed the Warriors won.

Not if Monta Ellis and Steph Curry combine for 21 points. It's not like they played poorly. Curry missed all three of his three point attempts and the Hawks prevented Ellis from getting to the rim. I hate to make excuses for Monta, but he rolled his ankle on the Christmas day win over the Blazers on a play in the fourth quarter. It happened when Monta intercepted a pass and ran it back for a breakaway dunk. Portland subsequently called timeout and you could see Ellis hobble toward the Warriors bench. Otherwise we would have seen his typical video game-ish performance.

The Hawks deserve credit for having a good defensive game plan. They packed the lane and dared the Warrior sto shoot jumpers. It worked in the beginning, but when the shots didn't fall for the Warriors, the Hawks put together some runs to separate themselves. The first run was an 8-0 run about half way through the first quarter. The next big run was a 13-0 push in the second quarter. The Warriors missed jumpers and Atlanta pounded the ball into the paint with Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia.

The Hawks locked up the Warriors, except for D-Wright, who's shooting kept the Warriors from getting blown out. It appeared D-Wright was more assertive on offense because he knew Monta wasn't at full strength with that sore ankle.

The Warriors started the half out nicely with Curry hitting a jumper off a well designed inbound play. After that, the Warriors looked like a jet-lagged bunch. A few sloppy turnovers, sluggish transition defense, and lack of execution on offense led to 9-0 Hawks run. Two threes by Mike Bibby and one trey from Joe Johnson. The Warriors countered with a 10-2 run of their own to make the score 67-63 Hawks. That was as close as they'd get.

The game was essentially over with 5:44 in the fourth when Josh Smith tossed an ally-oop to Al Horford to put the Hawks up 10. The Warriors couldn't make up any ground from that point on.

The Warriors didn't play bad, but "not bad" doesn't beat this Hawks team in Atlanta. The Warriors made some sloppy turnovers. When D-Wright got his pocket picked at half court in traffic on a fast break with the Warriors down just four points, that killed any momentum. They didn't get the breaks needed to beat a solid playoff caliber team on the road. This game wasn't a blowout by any means. The Hawks just out-executed the Warriors and got higher percentage points in the paint.

Hopefully the Warriors can put this game behind and take advantage of a very beatable Bobcats squad. Of course, I'd love to see the Warriors beat Stephen Jackson. Speaking of solid small forwards, I'd like to see Dorell Wright stay hot. D-Wright has back to back games with 20 points and has fourished with the return of Curry as another shooter opposing defenses must account for.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Warriors top 76ers 110-95, winners of three in a row

The Warriors are winners of three games in a row after beating the 76ers Dec. 27 at Oracle. The 76ers were without Andre Iguadala and the Warriors were without Andris Biedrins.

Summery

The Warriors controlled the first five minutes of the game and went up 16-4. Philly controlled the rest of the first quarter thanks to a 16-2 run. The Warriors shot the ball well and created turnovers, but the 76ers bullied their way to the free throw line and found points in the paint.

In the second quarter, the Warriors looked sloppy with the ball and got out-worked. They were able to stay in the game with outstanding three point shooting. With 2:26 in the second, Curry stole a post pass and sent along outlet pass to Rodney Carney. Carney missed the dunk, but Lee jammed home the miss to put the Warriors up 46-45 (It would be 47-45 after a Rodney Carney shot was ruled a three pointer).

At the half, the Warriors had 18 points off turnovers to Philly's mere 2. The Warriors were 9-13 from three point range.

The Warriors started the third quarter leading 55-49, but looked sluggish. They ran several offensive possessions through Lou Amundson. Lou is a nice player, but he is at his best without the ball, cleaning up the glass. Dorell Wright's shooting and Elton Brand's rebounding led each team in the third quarter.

When the fourth quarter came, the Warriors put the game away early...with Monta Ellis resting! The Warriors striped the ball from three point range. Wright, Curry, Radmanovic, and reliable David Lee ran away with this game during the first six minutes of the fourth.

Breakdown

This was the most balanced the Warriors have looked since November. When Dorell Wright scores 20 points or more, the Warriors have a great chance to win. he scored 28 points and went 5-7 from three point range. Also, he got to the line on some crafty pump fakes when the Warriors really needed to get to the line.

David Lee went for 21 points and 16 rebounds. It's good to see the rebounding numbers get back to what he is capable.

Lee also looks comfortable with his shooting, a good sign his elbow is getting better.

Monta Ellis scored 22 points, below his 26 PPG, but he dished 12 assists.

After poor shooting in his first game back, Curry found his stroke and put in 17 points with 4-6 from three point range. It's nice to see Curry back, but it seems that Reggie Williams has struggled to find his rhythm with less minutes. Hopefully Reggie can get back to his December form when he led the NBA in three point shooting percentage.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Warriors beat Blazers on Christmas Day 109-102; Ellis scores 39

The Warriors have won two games in a row, something not seen since November. The win over the Kings was big. The Warriors played well, without Andris Biedrins, then blew an 11 point lead to get down 16 to Sacramento into the fourth quarter. The fourth quarter comeback took guts, and was fueled with aggressive performances by Vlade Radmanovic and Reggie Williams. But Monta Ellis and the opponents inability to stop him made the difference for the Warriors. It was an ugly game, but the most important win since the Warriors beat the Jazz in early November.

Steph Curry suited up for the first time in 17 games and started for Keith Smart. Curry struggled from the field but moved the ball on offense to make up for his lack of scoring. Curry finished 2-15 from the field, 0-5 from three, but made 11 assists. Keith Smart also limited Curry's minutes to 29; a reasonable move with how well Reggie has been scoring lately. If Curry would have shot the ball more efficiently...sure, the Warriors would have won by a bigger margin. But Curry's assists and ball movement made a big difference.
Again, Monta Ellis carried the load. Ellis scored 39 points and made seven assists to go along with two steals, the biggest one came with under two minutes in the game. David Lee was the only player to offer any support on the offensive end for most of the way. Lee found a nice touch with the mid-range jumper and finished with 21 points, but didn't rebound as well as he is capable. If Lee can ice skate, he should play for the San Jose Sharks with his toughness. He had an abscess in his left shooting elbow, but played through debilitating injury because the Warriors need him to have a chance. One good arm or two.

Monta hit jumpers and unbelievable shots around the rim. Lee hit mid-range jumpers. the Blazers Killed the Warriors on the boards. The Warriors made defensive stops and Blazers earned second and third chance possessions with tireless work on the offensive glass.

Portland out-rebounded Golden State 53-32. The Blazers owned the offensive rebounds 24-7. This match-up made Biedrins' post presence and rebounding sorely missed. With the game tight all the way, the Warriors needed one more player other than Ellis and Lee to add double figure scoring. It was Radmanovic versus the Kings on Dec. 21. Dorell Wright was that third scorer to give the Warriors enough to beat the Blazers on Christmas day. D-Wright hit a three pointer with 3:35 left in the game to tie the score at 97. On the next possession, he got a steal and dunk to put the Warriors ahead for good.
The Warriors won the game by stopping the Blazers and found ways to collect defensive rebounds.

Western Conference pecking order
There are three groups in the Western Conference. The good, the eighth seed, and the ugly. The good consists of the top seven teams that will make up the #1 though #7 seeds in the West. The eighth seeds teams are self explanatory, and the bad are simply that.

The good: Spurs, Mavs, Lakers, Jazz, Thunder, Hornets, Nuggets. These teams have deep benches and one or more dominant superstars on the roster. The Spurs and Mavs are arguably in another class above the rest.
There are five teams competing for one spot in the West, the eighth seed. These teams are the Blazers, Suns, Rockets, Grizzlies, and Warriors. This group of teams would be perennial playoff participants if they played in the East, but this is the West. When completely healthy, the Warriors are a realistic eight. Completely healthy... hmm, what's that like?

The ugly are the Clippers, Kings, and T' wolves. These teams can't wait for the draft.

Next game: 76ers @ Warriors 7:30, Monday, Dec. 27

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Warriors beat Kings in overtime, Ellis scores 36

Certain games are turning points in a team's season. For instance, the game when the Miami Heat and the maligned LeBron James returned to Cleveland to play the Cavs. James burned his former squad and the Heat trounced the inferior Cleveland Cavs. The Heat were a different team after that game, their chemistry was better. The animosity toward James helped Miami form stronger bonds. I have your back and you have mine.

The Warriors turned a corner with the overtime win in Sacramento Dec. 21.

They outplayed the Kings for the first quarter and a half. They held the Kings (Outside of Beno Udrich) to low field goal percentage and ran the floor to hold a lead for most of eight to 10 points most of the way through the first half. Then came the meltdown. Just like the night before against the Rockets. Sacramento finished the first half on a 9-0 run and took the momentum into their locker room at the half.

Here we go again. I can't watch this. These were the sentiments of Warriors fans as the Kings got right back into the game. The Warriors slowed their pace and started doing that fouling thing again. Turnovers added to a demoralizing third quarter.

Neither team could finish the other off, no matter how many opportunities they had to step on the throat. The Kings let the Warriors back into the game in the fourth quarter. Vladamir Radmanovic gave the Warriors a huge boost off the bench with 15 points and the biggest shot of the season, a game tying three point heave from 31 feet as regular time expired. Radmanovic, who has been a non-factor this season, showed he is capable of providing much needed bench scoring. I'd like to see Vlad share minutes with Dorell Wright at the small forward position, especially when Biedrins comes back.

Monta Ellis should be an All-Star this year. He scored 44 Dec. 20 on the Rockets and followed that with 36 on the Kings. Ellis put the Warriors on his back and carried them through poor play. Like a true superstar, he took control of the game in overtime and dominated.

If the Warriors would have lost this game, the story would have been about how they blew an 11 point lead in the first half and imploded. The story would have been about disappointment and frustration. A win over the Kings is nothing to brag about, but a loss would have been back-breaking.

The energy from a dramatic win like this will carry over into the next game against the Blazers, when the Warriors are expected to get Steph Curry back. I expect the Warriors to beat the Blazers and carry this momentum further into the season. The Warriors won beat the Kings by getting a contribution from every player who played. Ekpe Udoh didn't score, but protected the rim. Reggie and Vlad brought points. A.C. Law bought Ellis some rest. David Lee is hockey tough and, along with Ellis, is the rock of this team. When Curry returns, this team will contend with the good teams in this league.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Warriors mistakes lead to Rockets win 121-112

The way the Warriors finished the second half is a microcosm of the Warriors tough season so far, with frustrating self inflicted damage. With under 30 seconds left in the first half, Monta Ellis stole a Chuck Hayes pass and started a fast break. He passed to Rodney Carney, who missed a fast break lay-up and Louis Amundson kept it alive, yet failed to finish. No Warriors player was back to defend a long outlet pass to a wide open Kyle Lowry. On the following play, Lowry picked a point black inbound pass from Dorell Wright and was fouled hard by a frustrated Wright. The Rockets capped off a 7-0 run with an inbound play to Luis Scola with .3 seconds to shoot. Scola hit a shot right out a game of 'tip-it' from about eight feet on the baseline.

It was a pathetic display, a lack of focus, and overall careless basketball.

With no Curry, the Warriors needed offense. Ellis gave his max effort with 44 points, while Reggie Williams and Dorell Wright essentially contributed nothing (They combined for 20, some of those points in garbage time). Ellis went 15-20 from the field, 3-4 from three, and 11-14 from the line. He also added seven assists and three steals to negate his three turnovers. In two games against the Rockets at Oracle this season, Ellis has scored 90 points.

Dorell Wright shows resemblance to Al Harrington offensively. Wright is a better defender, but they both can be feast or famine with scoring. Like Harrington back in 2007, if Wright scores 20 or more, the Warriors have probably won. I'd be interested to see those statistics.

The Warriors need another player at small forward to supplement D-Wright's minutes. They can live with A.C. Law and Jeremy Lin at back up point guards, but a solid SF is key. D-Wright is still growing and improving as a young player in this league, but he doesn't look ready to handle the heavy minutes at this point in his career (Welcome to Golden State-all hands on deck!). D-Wright should get more open three point looks when Curry returns, as Steph draws heavy attention with his own shooting ability.

Ekpe Udoh showed why he was the sixth overall pick in the draft. Udoh played with energy, rebounded, showcased his baby hook in the lane, blocked two shots, and showed awareness as a passer of the ball, as he made three assists. With just over nine minutes in the fourth quarter, Udoh jammed home an Ellis miss with the left hand and sprinted back down to block a Courtney Lee lay-up on the other end. Udoh's effort caused Oracle Arena to erupt and earned the rookie the respect of the NBA's finest fans. Udoh's enrgy also sparked the Warriors, who used the momentum to take a two point lead after an Ellis made three.

The lead was short lived, as the Warriors fell apart somewhat like they did to end the first half. It was essentially over when Shane Battier hit a three just under 2:00 minutes. The Warriors stopped the Rockets on the next possession, but Kyle Lowry stole Vlad Radmonovic's rebound and was taken down by Vlad for a flagrant foul. Lowry hit two free throws to put the Rockets up 108-101. More foolish and careless basketball.

Kevin Martin scored 30 points to lead the Rockets. Martin was 7-14 shooting, 3-4 from three, and 13-13 from the line. Martin is an interesting player to officiate, as he is clever like Derron Williams is on Utah. (But with a different game) Martin knows he is an elite free throw shooter, so he is trying to create contact any way he can. He is quick, but not fast. Defenders respect his ability to shoot and that allows Martin to get by defenders without having speed. It's frustrating to see officials call such soft fouls on Martin while big players get batted around with no call. But elite shooters get away with a lot in the NBA.

Next game: Kings at Arco Arena 7:00 P.M.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blazers top Warriors by 1 point

Big trades dominated NBA headlines Dec. 18, which included some former Warriors. Meanwhile, the Warriors lost an ugly game in Portland. The Warriors played a terrible first half, but turned things around in the second to be in position to win in the end.

The Warriors stopped LaMarcus Aldridge and called a timeout with eight seconds in the game down one point. Everyone knew the Warriors would run some type of pick and roll with Monta Ellis and David Lee. They tried, but rushed the play. Lee fell down on the screen, but Ellis was forced to take a difficult fade away 18 feet out. The best closers don't rush during the last possession. They almost move deliberately slow as if to lull the defender into a slower pace, know exactly how many seconds remain, then make a decisive move to score. Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Dwayne Wade, and recently Manu Ginobilli all have that killer mentality with the ball in a clutch situation.

No knock on Ellis, as he hasn't had much experience in last shot heroics. In recent years it's been Baron Davis or Stephen Jackson taking that shot for the Warriors.

The Warriors were without Andris Biedrins and Stephen Curry continues to rest his sprained right ankle. The Warriors sorely miss Curry's shooting and play making. There is no one who can score off the bench without Curry.

The Warriors nearly beat the Blazers at the Rose Garden without playing well. The Blazers and Warriors match up again on Christmas day at Oracle and I think the W's will give a better effort in front of the home crowd.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Warriors beat T'Wolves 108-99, end seven game slide

The losing streak ends at seven. I didn't think I'd be typing those words as I watched the first quarter. The Warriors struggled to score against a bad defensive team and finished the first quarter with 17 points.

Every Warriors fan watching that first quarter was thinking the same thing. We can't lose to the T'Wolves! Psychologically it would be like two losses. After such a difficult stretch in the schedule, the Warriors needed to take advantage of playing a struggling team at Oracle. It seemed the Warriors took Minnesota lightly in that first quarter and forgot this is the NBA and every roster has people who are capable. The Warriors didn't get to their spots on the defensive end nor did they get the deflections that make them effective on defense.

In the second quarter, Monta Ellis put this team on his back. Ellis was the Warriors offense and his energy turned into a 12-0 run and ended in a 18-4 run to finish the second quarter. It's almost like Monta learned from what happened to him last night against D-Will of the Jazz. The elite play makers in the NBA can will their way to score no matter what the opposing team throws at them. Ellis proved again that he belongs on that list and finished with 34 points.

Once Ellis jump started the Warriors offense, Reggie Williams picked up the slack and contributed some big shots down the stretch. He finished with 26 points, 8-13 from the field, and 4-7 from three point range. The production of Reggie has been a bright spot in Steph Curry's absence. If Reggie can bring these performances off the bench when Curry returns, the Warriors will have the makings of a respectable second team.

A.C. Law showed he deserves to be a candidate for the back up point guard. His nine points don't tell the complete story of what he gave the Warriors tonight off the bench. Law doesn't shoot very well, but he brings physical tenacity, energy, and ability to create for his team mates. All qualities Keith Smart wants in a bench player.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Warriors fall to Jazz, seventh consecutive loss

The Warriors have lost their seventh consecutive game. It was close for three out of four quarters, but the lack of bench made the difference in this loss as it did in the previous six games and the Jazz second unit dominated. Golden State's starters did a good job, as they were up 23-20 at the end of the first quarter. The Warriors just went limp to begin the second and that was the stretch which opened up the game for the Jazz.

The Jazz are an interesting team, they almost seem to play possum with their opponents by doing the bare minimum to hang around for most of the game, then putting the ball in Deron Williams hands in the final minutes of the game. Utah's ability to make comebacks has everything to do with their almost un-guardable point guard.

The Warriors frustration showed up in the the last three or four minutes of the game when usually stoic and unflappable Monta Ellis took exception to a hard foul from Deron Williams. At this point, the game had ceased to be competitive and Monta's true frustration was directed toward to officials. A few plays earlier Ellis was whistled for a charge for lowering his shoulder into Williams on a drive through the lane. The officials subsequently gave Ellis a technical foul; for what, I'm still unclear. All game long, Williams got every call remotely close. Williams conned the refs into calling a block on Ellis as the Jazz point guard dove into Monta's legs while Ellis retreated. Credit Williams for being crafty and leaning into defenders and creating the illusion of rough contact. Williams is a strong point guard and finishes extremely well after initiating contact and it makes him a difficult player to officiate.

The Warriors lost this game because of their poor bench play and lack of depth, not the officiating. That being said, the officials had a bad game. I've never liked Tony Brothers as an official. He asserts himself too much, rather than let the players decide the game. I have always loved the "ageless" Dick Bovetta, but I don't think he's taken a vision exam in awhile. The call on David Lee for swinging his elbow when no Utah player was within 15 feet was absurd! After tonight's game, I encourage Dick to retire. Inequitable officiating.
After Williams whacked Ellis, David Lee had a break away lay up and was fouled hard by skinny CJ Miles. Like Williams foul on Ellis, it wasn't dirty, just rough play. It's the kind of foul I wish the Warriors dished out rather than these pathetic excuse-me fouls. Shortly after, Miles drove the lane and dunked the ball, a perfect opportunity to put Miles' thin body on the floor and send the message that the Warriors can play hard also. This didn't happen. Miles flushed the dunk and the Jazz skipped back down to the other end. The Warriors skulked through the remainder of this disappointing game.

If Miles tried that sequence against the Celtics, Kevin Garnett would have put him in the hospital and teased him as he left the building on a stretcher. The Warriors don't have any nasty. No Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, or Matt Barnes. Zero nasty. That's why they don't get to the free throw line, that's why they don't get the respect of opponents and referees alike, and that's why they are 8-16.

Hopefully this is the low for the Warriors. David Lee is not himself (elbow), Curry is not himself (ankle), and Monta is seriously overworked and it hurts his efficiency. Biedrins doesn't give them anything on offense and is deathly afraid to work himself to the line. Maybe this team can make a run when Lee and Curry are healthy together and the schedule let's up, but for now, this team is incapable of competing with a good team for 48 minutes.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Heat burn Warriors 106-84

The Warriors caught the Heat at a bad time. Every team that plays Miami for the rest of the season will catch them at a bad time. The Warriors did well to keep it close in the first half, but struggled to do so.

The Heat came out of the locker room in the second half on a mission, as the locked down the Warriors with their defense en route to an 18-3 run and a 36 point quarter. The measly 3 points came on a Monta Ellis shot clock beating bailout three pointer. To Miami's credit, the Warriors were unable to execute in the half court and the misses and turnovers led to full court fast breaks for easy points.

It's easy to see how the Heat lead the league in double digit points in wins. They can lock you up and it's an instant fast break. It hurt to see the Warriors get a bit demoralized midway through the third quarter, but the Heat are the most exciting team to watch in the league. When they aren't running the floor, they draw, kick, and hit with high efficiency.

Are the Heat ready to compete with Boston, Orlando, and Chicago for an Eastern Conference championship? Close, but not quite. Miami has struggled the most with the Celts due to Rajon Rondo creating match-up problems with the ball. The Heat like to pack the lane and dare teams to shoot perimeter shots (as they will live with a few makes and count on misses to fuel that fast break), but the Celtics shoot well. The Heat look amazing against a poor offensive executing team like the Warriors, but teams like the Celtics move the ball and have too much depth for the Heat. To counter, the Heat will get Mike Miller back on the floor for additional three point shooting.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spurs beat Warriors 111-94, now beaten Warrors 10 straight times


The Warriors loss to the Spurs on the second game of a back to back was not a surprise. The Spurs have historically dominated the Warriors over the past decade and have arguably the best team in the league right now. Despite the clear disparity in talent between these two teams, the Warriors deserve credit for competing hard and not giving in mentally. If you watch enough basketball (or any sport), you have seen a game where a superior team not only beats a team, but demoralizes them. The Warriors, although they lost, did not allow themselves to be demoralized.

Reggie Williams, who played 35 minutes due to Stephen Curry's re-injury of that vulnerable right ankle, scored a game high 31 points and connected on 8-10 from three point range. The elevated play of Williams kept the Warriors within shouting distance through the game, but the Warriors dug too deep of a hole with a slough of turnovers which led to a lay-up parade by San Antonio. The turnovers stood out as the biggest difference maker in this game, as the W's committed 22 to the Spurs 11. It wasn't simply turnovers, but points converted off those turnovers that allowed the Spurs to build their initial lead.

This recent stretch of games has been frustrating, but let's be realistic. The Warriors are missing a lot pieces, especially if we expect them to compete with the top four Western Conference teams. When I say missing pieces I don't refer to the ongoing injury issue with this club, but they lack the roster depth to keep up with Western Conference playoff caliber teams. The Warriors starters are pretty good, but still far from elite. They don't really have a back to the basket big guy, although Lee is very good around the rim. They don't have a solid small forward option to supplement some of Dorell Wright's minutes. (40 minutes is too much for Dorell at this point in his career) Most of all, the Warriors don't have a point guard to come off the bench to spell Curry. (Lin is a warm body and Bell is an expiring contract).

The Warriors do have Monta Ellis, who's scoring can cure many ills. They have Steph Curry, who's ankle trouble has limited him this season, still has a bright future and should return to form once that ankle heals. They also have an energetic mix of front court players in Biedrins, Lee, Amundson, and Udoh. Throw in D-Lee, D-Wright and Reggie, the Warriors have some nice pieces.
For now, this is what we have with the Warriors. Like last season, it's a work in progress. Unlike last season, they are moving more in the right direction. It seems likely the front office will make a move around the trade deadline, especially if the Warriors have an outside shot at that eighth seed in the West. That's the only reason Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric are here.

I'd like to see Larry Riley acquire sufficient help to spell Curry before he hurts his ankle any more. This team needs him later down the road when the stakes are high, not a building year. Let him rest for two weeks.

Warriors starters are logging too many minutes and it showed tonight in Monta's jump shot. He shot 7-24 from the field.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mavs edge Warriors 105-100 in Dallas

The Warriors gave the Mavs a competitive effort, but the depth of Dallas was the difference in a 105-100 win over the Warriors. As usual, the Warriors were doubled up in free throw attempts (Mavs 21-27, W's 6-13). The poor free throw percentage is more frustrating than the lack of attempts. Despite the free throw disparity, the Warriors played well enough to win the game.

With less than five minutes in the game, the Warriors unraveled and it was evident that the Warriors do not have the depth to beat a stacked team like the Mavs. The bench points statistic tells the story of the game: Mavs 47, Warriors 14. The Mavs have players like Shawn Marion and Jason Terry, who play starters type of minutes, so those stats a not typical of most NBA teams. The Mavs are an elite team (at least during the regular season).

The Warriors have severe drop off after the starters. Steph Curry continued to light up the score sheet on offense, but needed to be spelled. Reggie Williams came into the game and gave the Warriors nothing. Reggie is still a nice player to bring in for offensive energy, but the Warriors need a better back-up point guard. They need a player like Chris Duhon, Raymond Felton, or Keyon Dooling. Someone they can trust with the ball and score if needed. It would also be helpful to have a small forward to share minutes with Dorell Wright, who had a great game (17 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals).

It was nice to see Lou Amundson on the floor, even in a small dose. In 12 minutes he brought solid energy, blocked a couple shots, and made us forget Biedrins was on the bench with foul trouble. Ekpe Udoh is expected to join Amundson on the floor next month. I expect Udoh to make a nice impact, but it won't happen right away.

It hurts to watch this Warriors group work hard all game and come apart down the stretch. This current stretch of games is as tough as it gets all season. I still think the Warriors have a chance to turn it around as the season unfolds.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

J-Rich, Suns beat Warriors at Oracle

A 38 point game from Monta Ellis was not enough for the Warriors to beat the Suns. The Suns backcourt gave the Warriors problems all night. Jason Richardson posted up a smaller Monta Ellis and Steph Curry was unable to keep Steve Nash in front of him. Richardson scored 25 points and Nash burned the Warriors for 13 points and 16 assists. Dorell Wright was unable to stop the wiley veteran Grant Hill, who scored 24 points on 9-11 shooting.

Monta Ellis put the Warriors on his back in the third quarter, as he scored with graceful, swooping drives to the rim. The entertainment value of watching Ellis play offense was some consolation to a frustrating loss. David Lee also had a nice game with 25 points and continues to be a facilitator in the half court set, yet he still looks somewhat tentative rebounding the ball with his recovering left elbow. Lee only pulled 8 boards in Thursday night's loss.
The Warriors played without Andris Bidrins for the second half, due to stomach illness. Biedrins was on his way a nice game and the Warriors struggled without the presence of their active center.

The defensive play of Steph Curry has been a concern lately. Keith Smart asks his second year guard to corral the opposing team's point guard every game, not an easy task in the Western conference. I think Curry's ankle injuries early in the season have limited his lateral movement, but that's still no excuse. Curry has quick hands on defense and often comes up with reach in steals, however; he's been called for inexcusable touch fouls, specifically early in the game, which has cost Curry time on the floor. This was the case Thursday night against Nash. I'd like to see Curry play a bit more conservatively and trust the front line to provide help on defense.

The next five games are absolutely brutal. At Oklahoma City, a back to back against Dallas and San Antonio in Texas, Miami at Oracle, at Utah, then back home against Minnesota for somewhat of a reprieve.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Spurs hold basketball clinic at Oracle

The Spurs are the New England Patriots of the NBA. Great coach, future-hall-of-famer, and deep, talented roster, and they all play within the system. People call them boring because they take high percentage shots and put together winning teams every year, but they are a model of how a team must play in order to win a championship in the NBA.

The Spurs get 40 points per game from a deep bench and lead the league in free throws attempted, where they convert at a high percentage. The spurs shot 27-31 from the line to the Warriors 11-18. Not only do the Warriors fail to get to the line, but they shoot poorly with the few attempts they get.

The Spurs do all the things a championship caliber team should do. They play defense, they move the ball, they attack the rim, shoot high percentage shots, and get to the foul line. And they are deep. They have several guys who can take over: Ginobilli, Jefferson, Parker, Duncan, and George Hill can be very good.

Let's say the Warriors didn't commit a dozen or so inexplicable touch fouls (they did), they still would have lost because of their inability to earn trips to the line. That's what really separates the Warriors from playoff caliber teams. The playoff caliber teams can earn free throws when it counts, the Warriors haven't shown that. Playoff teams count on consistent production from the bench, the Warriors are happy with anything they can get from Reggie Williams, Dan Gadzuric, or Vlad Rad.

The Warriors should get a boost with the return of Louis Amundson and Ekpe Udoh, but they really miss a player like Corey Maggette who can attack the rim and get to the line.

Oh yeah, Tim Duncan went for 15 points, 18 rebounds, and 11 assists, and the sneakiest triple-double I've ever witnessed. Very Tom Brady. Warriors fans are sick of the Spurs kicking Golden State's butt every year...sorry 'We Believers', doesn't look like times are a'changin' anytime soon.

Are the Spurs better than the Lakers? At the moment, yes, but so much can change between now and April. If the impact players on both teams stay healthy, I still like the Lakers in playoff competition. If the Lakers go though Pau Gasol on offense, no one has an answer for the Spaniard, just so long as Kobe isn't a volume shooter.

Of note:
I can't wait to see Drama Queen James' return to Cleveland tomorrow. The tepid Heat should be able to handle the Cavs, but the atmosphere inside Quicken Loans Arena is the focal point of the show.