By: Rick Blaine
In their first preseason game away from home, the new Warriors played a sloppy game that was marred by turnovers, poor shooting, and clumsy officiating. It appeared that was both the players and the refs were shaking off the rust last night.
The Bad News
The Warriors shot poorly last night, and they uncharacteristically missed a lot of shots at the rim. Monta Ellis, who had a good game, missed several shots right at the hoop after beating his man. The team shot 42%, but it seemed lower. And for the first this preseason they lost the rebounding battle. The kings outrebounded the Warriors by a margin of 46 to 33.
The Warriors second unit looked awful. Smart took out all of his starters in the second quarter and the results were ugly. Both teams played their second units in that quarter and neither team looked good. It looked like a Habitat for Humanity gathering as both teams were laying a ton of bricks. Even the referees had a bad quarter, dragging it out with a series of ticky tack calls. The game slowed to a crawl.
The Good News
The Warriors starting unit continued to look good. The starters showed good chemistry. When they were on the court together the ball moved FAST. All of the starters made good decisions and played unselfishly. There were several possessions where quick passes led to easy baskets. In general, their shooting was off, especially Wright, but they executed well. The starters also played very solid defense, especially in the first quarter. The front line players protected the rim well and did not allow many easy baskets. (Most of the damage done by DeMarcus Cousins came against reserves.) During their best stretch of the game the defense was active and forced many turnovers that led to transition baskets.
Wright had a poor shooting night, but played in the flow of the game. In the moments where the starting unit played effectively, the first quarter in particular, Wright was in on key plays. Wright didn’t force any shots. From the looks of his game last night, it appears that he lets the game come to him and is a smart player. Last night he ran the floor well and made good passes. Though he didn’t have a great shooting game, he showed plenty of evidence that he is going to be a skilled play-making wing. I think it is safe to say that Wright is going to be a feather in Larry Riley’s cap.
Lee was a very strong physical presence under the glass, especially on the defensive end. He had one rebound of note against Cousins where he snatched the ball with one hand and cradled it in a single motion. He held his own underneath against all of the Kings big men. I was also impressed by Lee’s outlet passes. He made several quick outlet passes that initiated the fast break. That skill will help the Warriors throughout the season. On offense Lee was very strong taking it to the basket. He scored underneath on a couple of dunks, but he also scored taking it to the hole and kissing the ball softly off the glass. He has a big body and he creates the space he needs to get off his shots. For some reason, on defense this power and strength diminish. This was evident again last night, especially in the second half. Lee looks weak and indecisive when a player gets position against him or when a player cuts through the lane going to the basket. He just doesn’t that harness the power that he has as a rebounder and low post scorer in his defense. That is a mystery to me.
The box score does not do justice to AB’s game. Six points and three rebounds over 27 minutes does not tell the story. The team played better when he was in the game. By his standards he had a very bad night rebounding, but he was a strong defensively. Though he recorded only one block and zero steals, he broke up a lot of passes and kept players from scoring easy buckets inside. On the Kings opening possession he blocked Cousins shot. Biedrins made a couple of nice plays on offense. One on a drive to the basket where he scored and was fouled. He came up short on the free throw, but the shot looked much better previous years. The hitch is gone in the shot and his form looked smoother. He also scored on a nice spin move. I don’t sense that Biedins is back 100%, but he’s almost there. For all the heat Biedrins takes from fans, it is this fan’s opinion that he is crucial to the success of the team. When he is out of the game, the team becomes much softer and vulnerable. This was highly evident when Biedrins left the game and was replaced by Dan Gaduriz and Vlad Radmanovic.
Curry had an off game. He shot and rebounded fairly well, but foul trouble limited his action, and had too many careless turnovers. These were two areas he had problems last season, and he will need to work on them this season. Defensively, he played fairly well. There were a couple of sequences on defense where you could see that he was up in his opponent’s face. Good to see.
Williams did not have a good game, though he a couple of good moments. He seemed to force a lot of shots. The usually smooth Williams looked a little flustered and awkward having to carry the load when was out there with the reserves. He forced a lot of shots, made some bad decisions, and did not get into a rhythm. . He faired better in the second half when he was in with some of the starters.
Rad was the second player off the bench. He had a slow start (offensive foul and a near turnover) but came alive midway through the second quarter, scoring on a tip in and draining a corner three. He was fairly active on the inside. During that brutal second quarter he was the best Warrior on the court. Unfortunately, that was not saying much. When Rad comes in the game for Biedrins the whole make-up of the team changes. Though Rad has skill, the team gets softer when Lee shifts to the 5 and Rad plays the 4. Let’s hope this is not a line-up we see often in the regular season.
Ellis had another very strong outing. Had he not missed two or three drives to the hoop right at the rim his stat line would be much better. Nevertheless, Ellis picked his spots well. He took good shots, but he also moved the ball around well. Ellis furnished most of the early offense for the Warriors. He scored on an impressive reverse in traffic that made the highlights over at nba.com. He also hit a nice midrange jumper after dribbling from one side of the baseline to the other. Finally, Ellis skied for a couple of rebounds that reminded me of the Ellis of three years ago.
Gadzuric had a night he’d like to forget. More importantly, he’d like Smart to forget it. Gadzuric is slow, especially on the defensive end. When he entered the game to start the second quarter, Cousins, who was having a quiet night, came alive. In his first sequence, Gad fouled Cousins right away. On the next defensive sequence he committed a loose ball foul. Shortly after that Cousins—guarded by Gadzuric–made a nifty behind the back pass to a guard who cut to the basket for an easy score. Then on the next defensive sequence Cousins outhustled Gad for a long rebound and drove right past him for an easy hoop.
On offense Gadzuric was a nonentity. On the one play where he got the ball in the low post, his shot was blocked by small forward Omar Casspi. With five minutes left in the half Gadzuiric limped off the court not to return. If last night was any indication, Gadzuric will not be seeing a lot of time on the court this season.
Miles got a lot of burn (25 minutes) but did not distinguish himself. He looked awkward during his second quarter stint, clanking shots and getting his shot blocked. Dishing out only two dimes in his 25 minutes of floor time, he was like a CJ Watson who can’t shoot. In the fourth quarter he picked up his game and was a serviceable sub for Curry who ran into foul trouble. He scored off a couple of drives in half court sets and was active. Still, Miles should not be a player the Warriors count on to log a lot of minutes at the point guard spot.
In his nine minutes of play, Bell did very little to distinguish himself. He looks to be a tweener guard and nothing stood out in his game last night. More time on the floor this preseason will give us a better idea of what the Warriors have in Bell.
Adrien came in with five minutes to go in the half. Though he did not have a standout game like the one he had Sunday, he was solid. Adrien is a truck out there. He’s very thick, especially from the torso up. He played good defense, and he rebounded balls that came his way. Other than one play where Cousins scored over him, Adrien was solid on the defensive end. On offense, Adrien did not do much. He was not an option that players looked to. There was one possession where Adrien was wide open under the basket, and Bell chucked up a three rather than dishing to him inside.
Lin came in with two minutes to go in the game. I didn’t know that there were so many Warriors fans at the game until that moment. . The crowd cheered him loudly upon entering. One would have thought the game was played in Oakland. The noise generated by Lin’s entrance was twice that of any generated for a Kings player. It was comical as the crowd lived and died every time he touched the ball. The Jeremy Lin phenomenon is a strange thing. I was there in Vegas in his game against John Wall. The same thing happened there except the fan reaction didn’t build up until third quarter.
Lin did not do much in his two minutes. He missed a couple shots. He was fouled on one and converted a free throw. Lin will be a very interesting story this season. I hope that he earns playing time, because if he does the story line will be great.
Wright was a DNP. I was disappointed as I wanted to see what he would add to the team. Either he is injured, he is in Smart’s doghouse, or he is going to be traded imminently. I suspect it’s the dog house. The Warriors need to see what Wright can offer, and preseason is the time to see it. Hopefully Smart starts giving Wright more minutes in the coming games. Wright has to have gotten the message by now.