Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Two Straight Getting Warriors Back to Relevance

The Warriors moved to 5-8 with back-to-back wins in Detroit then Cleveland, both teams who had equal or better records than Golden State coming in. What's even more important is that Steph Curry has returned to full practice and is closing in on a return. He could be ready as soon as Wednesday night's tilt in New Jersey, however, my money's on him returning when the team comes home Friday night.

So, they'll have to endure another game without their star point guard, but if they get another effort from David Lee and the bench like they got Tuesday night, they should be just fine against a New Jersey squad that even a Curry-less Warriors should be able to handle. Now, the Warriors have lost to a lot of teams they should have beaten early on this season and won games they weren't favored in, much like Tuesday's tilt against the 6-6 Cavaliers. It wasn't all roses for the Warriors though, as they got a scare late in the game after Monta Ellis took an elbow straight on to the nose from Anderson Varejo, which knocked Monta out of the game and possibly gave him a broken nose. Now, if that's indeed the case, Ellis is likely out for Wednesday's game in New Jersey as well, so the team will lean even more heavily on David Lee, Brandon Rush and Nate Robinson than they have the last few nights. Speaking of which, I wanted to touch on David Lee a little bit, as he's really come out of his shell and has broken out and now scored 20+ in 5 straight for the first time as a Warrior. During this last 5-game span, the Warriors have gone 3-2, and Lee has averaged 26 points, 12.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists. He's given the team some consistency in the paint and been huge on the boards and they've responded with winning basketball.

Now, again, probably without Monta, it's going to be a real challenge for this team, but it's one I think they can handle. They'll probably slide either Brandon Rush or Nate Robinson into Monta's spot in the lineup alongside Charles Jenkins to at least start the game, but I'd expect a lot of Klay Thompson and Brandon Rush, possibly 25+ minutes for each. Rush was getting a lot of play at SF as Dorrell Wright's slump continues, so as much as the Warriors like having Robinson's energy coming off the bench early, I think they're going to have to insert him into the starting lineup until Monta or Steph are ready. It's either that or Klay Thompson, and I kind of like Klay in the role Jackson has been using him in lately, just to go in and take as many open shots as possible, cause the dude hit's better the 60% of his shots when he get's an opening on a catch-and-shoot. He's not much of a shot creater yet and doesn't shoot as well off the dribble, but you give him just a split second of an opening for a catch and shoot and he's already getting a reputation as one of the better ones in the league. I still would rather have seen this team take Markieff Morris, just based on team needs, but I'm starting to see what Jerry West and Mark Jackson saw in the 6'7" guard who tied his career high of 14 points, coupled with 2 assists on 5-9 shooting (4-4 from 3 point range) in just 16 minutes of play on Tuesday. That's getting it done, flat out. Anytime your scoring nearly a point-per minute, that's something to talk about and it should net Thompson some big minutes Wednesday if Ellis and Curry are both out again and Wright's struggles continue.

Roster Note: The Warriors added another big man in place of Kwame Brown this week, inking F/C Earl Barron, and waiving guard Ishmael Smith. I was kind of pulling for defensive prowler and 7'1" center Joel Przybilla. I'd never even heard of this Barron guy before the signing, but would have gone with the sure-handed vet Przybilla over the lesser experienced Barron. I also don't get why this team isn't using high 2nd round pick Jeremy Tyler more often. This guy was supposed to be the next Monta Ellis, the steal of the 2nd round for the Warriors, but they seem skittish at just using the 20 year-old. I'd like to see why the Warriors where so high on this guy and see him given some shots in certain situations.

Next Up: Another Eastern Conf. center the 'Dubs should look at, outside of Mr. Howard!

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