Last night, the Golden State Warriors traveled to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers in what could be considered as a slight setback. They were soundly defeated by double digits because they failed to produce at both ends of the court. Indeed, they were fortunate enough to outscore the Clips 18-9 in the fourth quarter to make the score seem a little more respectable, but it was still a fairly poor performance.
Let’s have a quick rundown of the things that jumped out to us at the conclusion of the contest.
New Owner of Toys R Us: Chris Paul
NBA GM’s submitted their votes and the results showed that the majority believe that Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league, a sentiment that I have echoed on many occasions. However, the Warriors’ defense seemed completely unprepared defensively for the former Demon Deacon’s prowess as the Clippers’ lead guard.
The Dubs were either always a step slow or a step early as CP3 essentially toyed with their defense almost as if he were playing a video game on the easiest level possible.
The Warriors often set up their defense to take away Paul’s first option in the pick-and-roll — the pass to Blake Griffin — by anticipating to hedge on screens; but instead Paul made them pay by still getting the pass to Griffin. The Clippers big man either slipped the screen early or pick-and-popped and thus still ended up with the ball in his hands.
On the few occasions the Warriors actually took Griffin out of the play, DeAndre Jordan was left open at the rim for a variety of lob passes that resulted in thunderous dunks.
This will probably change once Andrew Bogut joins his teammates on the floor, but until that happens, the Warriors need to figure out if they want to give up baskets on the interior or the perimeter, but not both. They surrendered 48 points in the paint last night and the Clippers converted 4-fo-17 shots from 3-point range. One might think they adequately defended the 3-point line, but in truth the Clips just missed a multitude of open looks.
As previously mentioned, the Dubs’ perimeter defense last night left much to be desired in the pick-and-roll, but the big men were arguably just as bad defensively.
Blake Griffin was allowed to bring up the ball in transition or drive from the wing and get all the way to the basket for a shot opportunity right at the rim or for a dish to an open teammate in the paint. His six assists had much to do with his playmaking ability, but those opportunities were available because the Warriors’ big men failed to offer much resistance in defending him.
It’s worth pointing out that the Carl Landry and David Lee tandem might see some minutes together this season, but hopefully not too much. They are average at best in terms of their individual defense and aren’t great help defenders in the least.
On the plus side, Festus Ezeli has some tremendous defensive potential. He occasionally gets himself out of position but he has the tools to help anchor the interior.
The Warriors only produced 71 points last night, but that shouldn’t be a huge concern at this point given that they missed a plethora of shots at the rim. Considering that they have several finishers on the roster, it stands to reason that although nights like this may occasionally happen during the regular season, it will not be the norm in any way, shape or form.
One thing that bears paying attention to though is Harrison Barnes’ touches. The former Tar Heel is good when he catches the ball with his feet set and can just shoot the rock without thinking about it; also he is a good finisher around the basket off the catch. When he has to put the ball on the floor mind you, things get infinitely more complicated for him and it tends to lead to a low percentage shot.
Barnes might improve on these aspects going forward, but for the time being, there is no reason to expect him to be a good shot creator.
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