Inside the Scope: Golden State Warriors (23-15) x New Orleans Hornets (13-26)
- Tip Off: 5:00 p.m. (PT)
- Television: CSN-BA
New Orleans Hornets Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 101.2 (tied for 15th in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 105.5 (27th in NBA)
- Points: Eric Gordon, 16.9 PPG
- Rebounds: Anthony Davis, 7.8 RPG
- Assists: Greivis Vasquez, 9.0 APG
- Steals: Al-Farouq Aminu, 1.3 SPG
- Blocks: Robin Lopez, 1.8 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: Robin Lopez, 55.3% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: Roger Mason Jr., 41.3% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: Hornets 247.
Preview: The Golden State Warriors defeated the Los Angeles Clippers at home on January 2nd in a rout that put the entire Western Conference on notice. The Dubs have however lost five of their last six games since that victory including their most recent setback yesterday in San Antonio.
If the Warriors are going to get out of this funk, they might as well attempt to start tonight when they visit a young but talented New Orleans Hornets squad.
The Hornets are an interesting team from this standpoint: they do not intimidate or put fear into their opponents, but they have to be taken seriously because Monty Williams gets them to play inspired basketball.
Mind you, playing hard isn’t synonymous with playing smart, and the drawback to a team with an incredibly young nucleus is that they must take their lumps collectively and grow together on the basketball court.
For instance, in the last contest against the Boston Celtics, Rajon Rondo opened up the game by running the exact same play four times in a row and scored on it three times. It took New Orleans four trips to finally figure out how to defend a pin down play between Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce on the right side of the court.
Thus, every opponent is a learning experience for New Orleans, as they progressively work their ways through games and slowly but surely figure out what works and what doesn’t work in a given game.
Indeed, if we look at the points they surrender throughout the game, the fourth quarter is not only their best defensive quarter on the season, it’s the seventh best mark in the league as they allow a mere 22.9 points per game in the final period.
And again, this is a collective issue, but Anthony Davis illustrates the Hornets’ uncertainty on defense perfectly.
His defensive rotations lack proper timing, he is either too early or too slow when picking up the next guy and that obviously hurts his team. Also, he can be tentative and get stuck in no man’s land where he is trying to guard his man and rotate to the next guy and thus leave two players open as opposed to just one.
And yet, for all of his lapses, he tends to get better within the flow of the game and understand the concepts and schemes as it pertains to being in a position to bail out his teammates. And then, the opposing coach calls timeout, tweaks the plays and what have you, and he’s somewhat lost all over again.
Because the team as a whole isn’t exactly a collection of terrific defenders, they tend to have multiple lapses in games, which forces the coaching staff to switch things up by playing a bit of zone defense. But again, the players do not always recognize their responsibilities, especially when opposing teams play with big men that can stretch the court.
It stands to reason that the Warriors will get a lot of clean looks tonight and it’s important to capitalize on them. And again, forcing Davis to think on defense will prove to be particularly fruitful especially if he is on the floor in the fourth quarter. NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us that New Orleans yields 47.5 percent field goal shooting from the field in the final period when he is on the floor, as opposed to 41.5 percent shooting when he is on the bench in the fourth.
Golden State will have to capitalize on their scoring opportunities, especially late, because with Eric Gordon expected to suit up tonight, the Dubs might not be able to contain him offensively late if he gets going, which could spell doom for the Warriors.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
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