David Lee shot 2-16. Stephen Curry hit two of his 14 attempts. The Warriors ran a small ball lineup on the court for extensive periods including the critical moments of the 4th quarter. Oh, and they blew a 17-point lead. You know what that equals…
A Warriors win.
They never said it had to be pretty.
The Warriors somehow escaped Phoenix with an 87-85 opening night win over the Suns in a game that showed both Golden State’s new-found strengths as well as their weaknesses.
Seeing as how this game displayed the Jekyll and Hyde of the Warriors, let’s dissect some of the good and bad from Halloween night:
Andrew Bogut’s return
Bogut was announced as making his much-anticipated Warriors debut not long before tip-off and showed flashes of what he is capable of bringing to this team. Obviously his timing was a little off, having not played in an NBA game since January, but he made sure his presence was felt from the opening tip (which he won, by the way). His stat line wasn’t eye-popping (18 minutes, 8 points, 6 boards and a block) but he was fairly effective in his first game in blue and yellow. As Bogut’s workload slowly increases he should, he should only get better and infuse this lineup with much needed energy and defense.
The bench showed that the talk of the Warriors being a much deeper team than years past was not just talk. Jarrett Jack, Brandon Rush, Carl Landry all played instrumental roles in the too-close-for-comfort win. Rush had a stellar 2nd quarter helping the Warriors grab the lead and Landry hit clutch shots at the end of the game, finishing with 17 points. Festus Ezeli also provided some good minutes early on but strangely did not see the floor much down the stretch.
The Warriors used to be a team that would crumble the minute an injury took place. While that still may be true (depending on who gets injured), they are better built to sustain those blows and have guys who can step up and fill in admirably.
Combined with David Lee, the duo shot a putrid 13% from the field tonight and just looked completely out of rhythm from the get-go. While it was Bogut who everyone assumed would be rusty after such a long layoff, it ended up being Curry who seemed to have trouble shaking the rust after sitting out the final two preseason games. It’s strange watching such a great shooter struggle from the field as much as he did but some credit does have to go to Goran Dragic who did just enough throughout the night to make sure Curry wasn’t comfortable whenever he had the ball.
David Lee apparently decided to wear his Corey Maggette costume for Halloween to US Airways Center and deeply get into character because he wanted to do two things and two things only: score and not pass. He forced shot after shot while on the other end was flat out owned by Luis Scola. It was baffling to watch Lee, a fairly good passer for a big man, seem not willing to give up the ball to his teammates. Perhaps he was thinking, “Well, if I had a bunch of guys around me who could shoot the ball, then I would.”
Oh that’s right. He does.
To his credit, he did set up Carl Landry for two easy dunks late in the game but whenever you take 16 shots on a night and you only make two, it tends to be one of those evenings you want to forget real quick.
I’m not quite exactly sure what the Warriors want to do offensively. They’re not half bad when they push the ball but they don’t do it that often anymore. In half court sets, the offense looks stagnant and has absolutely no flow. Aside from running a play or two with Thompson or Curry coming off screens, Golden State has nothing cooking and therefore no easy baskets or shots come about. With the weapons the Warriors have and the way they can spread the floor, it makes no sense that they can’t figure out more ways to make the offense more fluid.
Of course there is always more room for improvement on defense, but Mark Jackson needs to figure out what he wants his team to execute when they have the basketball and quickly.