The Reverse: Spaced Out Blazers
(The Reverse is a recap from the opposite end. Here we have a 101-93 win over Portland, Mark Jackson’s thoughts on plus-minus, Jackson’s thoughts on Biedrins and free throw shooting, among some interesting Curry/Lee/Udoh quotes. Bolded emphasis on quotes comes from me.)
Opening thought: GSW beat Portland by using space effectively on pick and roll situations. That, or the Blazers were too aggressive in putting two men on the point guard off the P n Rs.
Locker room chatter
ESS: The plus minus statistic has a whole bunch of good things to say about your game. Are you a believer in that statistic?
Udoh: (Laughs) You tell me. I don’t know what all goes into account, but I know it’s good to be a “plus.”
ESS: It seems like you use behind the back passes in pick and roll situations to pretty good effect, to get Lee shots. When did you start doing that, when did you start making that part of your game?
Stephen Curry: I see two guys attacking the ball. It’s the easiest way to maintain your line, and still get the ball where it needs to go. So I still keep whoever is guarding Dee-Lee pursuing me, and I still keep the ball going on the backside. I gotta be smarter, I can’t just be throwing it all over the place, but I’m pretty accurate with it the last couple games.
ESS: I feel like, back in the day, coaches would say, “Don’t throw behind the back passes!” Do you think the behind the back pass in pick and roll has become a new fundamental for point guards?
Stephen Curry: If you can make it, it’s an easy pass. Instead of turning your body, it saves you a half second, which in the league, it means a whole lot. Not everyone can do it that accurate when you’re dribbling hard to the basket. I try to do it with both hands, too. It’s fun to do it, so long as I’m executing the pass.
ESS: You talked about how they were trapping Steph and Monta. Will we be seeing you add a three pointer to your game, to further punish that kind of trap?
David Lee: Well ya, I’m very happy hitting a 17 footer, but I feel comfortable shooting that three ball. Tonight, I think that the biggest thing was, the open area to pop to was by the free throw line, so that’s where I pop. But I feel comfortable shooting that. We have a lot of guys on our team that are very capable of shooting that ball, and I’ll leave that to them for the time being.
ESS: Do you ever see Kevin Love and Chris Bosh and think, “It’d be fun to loft threes too”?
David Lee: (Chuckles) I have the greenlight to shoot em’, and I can make em.’ We’ll see.
Post game coach presser
ESS: Udoh had a really nice game with 26 minutes and Biedrins played about 15. Was that situational, or will we see Udoh get increasing minutes going forward?
Mark Jackson: There’s not a guy on my team I owe minutes to. When Ekpe Udoh plays like that, he leaves me no choice but to leave him in the game, and to trust that he’s going to get the job done. Outstanding defense against one of the best, if not the best power forward in the game. Not that he won’t score on you, but (Udoh) made them work for everything. Quite honestly, when I took Dre out of the game, he asked to come out, because he tweaked his ankle. But he was fine, he could return. But Ekpe played great. At the end of the day, I’m not a plus-minus guy, but he was a plus 18..Ekpe was. I thought his energy and effort was off the charts.
(Mark Jackson often says that he is “a flow coach.” He uses the phrase to explain a brief Jeremy Tyler PT stint)
ESS: What does it mean to be a “flow coach”?
Mark Jackson: I don’t go with what the numbers say. I don’t go with the “survey says.” I attempt to trust my instincts. I did it as a player. I was trusted by my coaches to do it as a player. I’m not going to do it just because history says to do it. If a guy picks up his second foul in the first quarter, doesn’t mean I’ma’ take him out. I’ma’ read it, I’ma’ see who it is, and I’ma’ make a decision. I’m not going to trust history all the time. That is, sometimes, history pretty much tells you to trust it, but I’m going to trust my instincts.
Note: I find Mark Jackson’s quote here interesting because analytical types hate when coaches foul their own players out. It’s as though Jackson came to the stat geek’s preference by accident.
Tim Kawkami: Ekpe’s been closing a lot of games basically in the center spot. Is there a chance you’re going to be looking at him starting games at center?
Mark Jackson: No.
Tim Kawakami: Why not?
Mark Jackson: Because Dre is as good as it gets as a post defender in this league. We have two elite post defenders in Kwame Brown and Andris Biedrins. He sets the tone defensively. He rebounds. He’s an absolute underrated defender. To me he’s having a very good year. He’s not scoring, but he’s having a very good year. And he sets the tond for our defense. Quite honestly, this hasn’t been a great year for Ekpe. So I can’t reward him when he didn’t earn it. He played great tonight and I hope he continues it and puts me in the position to force my hand.
Curry is assertive, there is no hesitation. He is quick, fluid, confident–save for a botched layup or two. Steph has been struggling with keeping possession when trapped aggressively. Not tonight. When trapped in pick-and-roll situations, Curry (and Monta) have been hitting an open David Lee. The slide below shows an open DL, right before Curry finds him with a crafty behind-the-back dish.
Monta Ellis has been a beneficial distributive force. Here is a slide sequence from the third, where a behind the back pass from Curry to Lee eventually leads to Monta hitting Steph for an open three. This illustrates how the Warriors turned aggressive Portland traps into pretty, profitable, ball movement.
Why do basketball players change from one night to the other? Biorhythms? The controversial hot hand? Stephen Curry looks like the rookie who once radiated so promise. He isn’t spraying passes into the stands or getting engulfed by large, trapping guards. What gives? Health? Attitude? Luck?
On a side note, I hate watching Craig Smith play basketball. Why are fan favorites sometimes the worst players to witness? Effective as Smith can be, he is an affront to hoops. The Rhino really does look straight down and bore forward heedlessly. Though the fans love him, I feel sorry for his teammates.
LaMarcus starts looking the part of an All Star. Camby has impressed so far, he’s at double digit rebounds. We hold Kobe up as an ageless wonder, what about Marcus? The dude’s 37!
The Warriors fall behind early in the quarter, but the Udoh-led bench mob brings them back. 53-48 at the half.
David Lee is killing LaMarcus Aldridge early on. Matchups make no sense! Lee often is weakest on defensive closeouts, and Aldridge is a pick and pop expert. LMA is also much larger. So of course Aldridge begins 0-4 as DL gets two easy dunks on the offensive end. Steph Curry wrestles ball from McGuire after hitting three. It’s as though Steph’s first quarter hot streak prompted the act of statistical selfishness. Below you can see the two joined as Siamese twins, as Curry attempts to separate himself while holding the good organ.
Pregame Coach Presser (Jackson had a long pre-game presser, nearly 15 minutes)
ESS: What is your explanation for why the second unit performed so well defensively relative to the first unit?
Mark Jackson: We’re a good defensive team. You look at the first three quarters, for every game this season, our numbers are top ten in the league. And the second unit don’t play the bulk of the minutes there. That’s our defensive team. We’ve collapsed in the fourth quarter. But we’ve given up 30 plus points at times, whether it’s turning the basketball over, whether it’s been giving up second chance opportunities. First three quarters, our numbers are exactly where we want them to be. And that, the credit for that goes to this team in general, first and second unit.
(Other writer): Your center has kind of become a non factor on offense, and there’s a prevalent feeling on the outside that, a lot of that has something to do with the free throw thing that’s still in his head. That he, doesn’t want ot make shots, doesn’t want to mix it up because he’s afraid of going to the free throw line.
Mark Jackson: You have to ask him that. We have confidence in him. We have extreme confidence in him. He’s a good a post defender as there is in this league. He’s as good a big defending the pick and rolls. We will attempt to continue to try to give him the basketball on the block. We will try and create offense for him. That’s a question that he would have to answer, but that is not something that I believe to be true. He’s been very positive, and I think he’s been having a very good season. So the concerns coming in–they were real concerns because I didn’t know him–are not concerns to me right now.
ESS: Has the team made his free throw shooting a focus?
Mark Jackson: No. It doesn’t matter to me. If the guy shoots two percent from the free throw line, he shoots one, two, maybe none a game? But if he gets every rebound, blocks shots, and defends. To me, I could care less if whether he makes free throws or not.
Jamal Crawford is hypnotizing at shootaround. He slings shots in such a way that his face looks blocked by the ball. I wonder if he could shoot those rainbows with even more accuracy, if only the NBA used a rock clearer than diamonds.