By: Patrick Lo
I didn’t see it coming. Granted the Warriors still lost 103-107 to the mighty Celtics, but they put up quite a fight behind Monta’s 41 points. They seemed destined for another 22-point drubbing they suffered only 10 days ago. Scoring 40 or more for the 3rd time this season, Ellis just couldn’t miss going 13-24 from the field and 4-9 from deep. It was another uneven effort from Warriors as they seem to take several possessions off at a time which they simply cannot afford, especially against the elite teams. The C’s had their offense churning, especially with Ray Allen doing Ray Allen-like things, hitting his first 7 shots from the field.
Udoh started another game, but that idea was scrapped quickly with coach opting for Biedrins and Amundson at the 5. Lee and Curry had it going on early, scoring the first 17 points for the Warriors, before Biedrins crashed the party. However, none of the bigs had any rhythm going, offensively or defensively, which put the Warriors down 11 at the half.
The bench had no pulse tonight(16 points), getting singlehandedly outscored by the Celtics’ deadline acquisition, Jeff Green(21 points). He was all over the place, scoring from inside and out, moving without the ball and getting open for easy baskets. That was the story of the night, with a bunch of open looks for the Celtics, while the Warriors had to work hard for every bucket.
On that note, there were two points that contributed to this disparity. On offense, the Warriors’ lack of a post presence made the game so much harder. Even with Boston’s considerably smaller frontcourt, the Warriors were not able to attack the rim ruthlessly and efficiently. With the guards and wings constantly having to initiate drives into the paint, the tired legs take its toll on their long-range game. Having a big with any sort of post game could drastically improve the offense. The Warriors own the 2nd best 3-point % in the NBA without the sort of inside/outside game that the Magic(10th) and Spurs(1st) run. With a big man initiating out of the post, the Warriors can space the floor and take advantage of their willingness to make the extra pass. Hey Dwight, what are you up to next summer?
On defense, it’s all about the feet. The Chicago/Orlando game featured two of the NBA’s best defenses and disregarding all the other little things they did, it started with the feet. Keeping the feet active, constantly adjusting and readjusting positioning helps tips things your way, defensively. Close outs will be quicker, fighting over screens will be easier, and deflecting passes will become the norm. Most importantly, active feet will get the whole body in the defensive mindset. To borrow a car analogy, because players are pretty much cars, going from 30-60 is significantly easier than 0-60.
No loss is easy to take, but the Warriors were fairly lucky to even have a shot at taking this game. It took a superhuman effort from Ellis coupled with a cold streak(missing back-to-back open 3s) from Ray Ray for the Warriors to pull within 1 of the Celtics.
1st Star: Monta Ellis
Another All-Star effort(take a hint America) from Monta with 41 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and only 2 turnovers. Topped off with a 11-12 showing at the line and you have your lock for the top performer of the night. Although I could fault Ellis for ball-watching while on Ray Allen duty, the whole team was guilty of this. Too many open looks for too good of a shooter, but Ellis carried the team offensively.
2nd Star: David Lee
Lee showed his aggressiveness early by scoring 14 of his 26 points in the 1st quarter. Unfortunately, he ceded to Ellis, and was content to crash the boards(12 rebounds), and play mediocre, if not lazy, defense.
3rd Star: Stephen Curry
He wasn’t scorching hot like I expected him to be after hitting quick shots early on, but he didn’t play a whole lot(31 minutes), and finished with 3rd single digit effort(9 points) in the last 7 games. He did, however, bait Rondo into taking a couple open jumpers which pretty much resulted in a turnover for the C’s. Still, I would rather the Warriors get in his face more to cut off his passing angles(16 assists) although it’s certainly easier said than done.
Ekpe Udoh: A disappointing second start for the 6th overall pick who was scoreless in 13 minutes. He’s always an eager one, but he didn’t have anything going from the start getting burned by Nenad Kristic early. Hopefully this experiment won’t end prematurely. Sorry, sometimes the 10th grade poet in me comes out.
GSW Bench: Like I mentioned, not much action from the bench tonight. Reggie played 7.5 minutes, his 3rd fewest minutes of the season because coach Smart temper was short on the defensive end. It’s really unfortunate the bench took the night off because a decent effort might have had the Warriors stealing one that had no business even touching.
Ray Allen: We all know he can shoot, he can move the ball, and Doc is clever at getting him space. If we all know this, then why isn’t his man clinging to him like freshly dried laundry? If Allen was my assignment I would never leave his side, fight hard through the screens, and just get in his face. He’s going to score on you, but at least make him work for it. I can’t think of a single difficult shot he took, which basically has Golden State begging for a loss.
Jeff Green: He still has lots of growing to do, especially on the defensive end, but he was just a big ol’ bundle of energy tonight. He was cutting, running out on fast breaks, and just punishing the Warriors for losing sight of him. He had every Celtic was looking for him which 8-11 from the field and 5-5 from the stripe.
Rajan Rondo: Rajan(Ray-jan? Rah-jan? I’m a Ruh-jan man myself.) was his doing his thing, still looking for teammates and still looking awkward shooting the ball. He’s in his 5th professional year and he still can’t seem to find that balance between asserting himself and deferring. Open jumper? I’ll take it. Open teammate? I’ll pass it. Open 4-footer? I’ll, dribble it back out? He’s still got a lot of potential, but that worries me in the both senses of the word.
Troy Murphy: Murphy made an appearance tonight against his former team and I can’t say he looked particularly tanned.
Golden State continues their 7-game road trip against the Sixers on Sunday at 3pm. While the game certainly seems winnable, Philly has been running strong. The Warriors will need a special effort to pull one out on the road against a very good home team.