The change is slow, subtle. As an impassioned observer, it’s hard to notice. Silent curses become grumblings, grumblings manifest into not so subtle trade requests, and suddenly your beloved star player is gone. We’ve seen in it Cleveland, Denver, and almost in LA. Winning truly heals all wounds, just ask Kobe or Iguodala. Iggy, who was the biggest name swirling around trade rumors at the start of the season, was barely a whisper by the trade deadline. After starting the season 3-13, the Sixers have played .600 ball going 33-20 since.

I’m not saying that Monta, Lee, or even Steph will start demanding trades, but as a frustrated fan, I can only imagine what’s going through their minds. As I start to lose faith in Amundson’s ability to catch a ball, or Udoh’s ability to dunk, I can feel their pained expressions tugging at me. Without results, a team can buy into the “team” concept for only so long.

It’s an understandable feeling, passing the ball to a well-positioned player only to watch the train wreck slowly unfold before you. Why should I pass to him when I know I can hit this elbow jumper? It’s the Kobe syndrome. We all watched him suffer through it, all 81 points of it. It certainly hasn’t reached that point, but if nothing changes, it will.

While defense is the bigger issue at hand, the element of trust still lies on both ends of the floor. The trust that slowly begins to deteriorate on one end will assuredly affect the other. It becomes a matter of trusting a player, rather than his play. I speak in general terms only because issues and examples are abound. A botched lay-in by a big man. A missed rotation on an open man under the hoop. A contested fadeaway early in the clock. A bailout foul on a desperation three. Take your pick, the Warriors are guilty of these many times over.

Not much need to speak specifically about tonight’s game. Easy baskets for the opponents combined with poor shot selection and missed opportunities spelled the story tonight. After holding a brief lead to start the game, Golden State fell behind by double digits and it pretty much stayed like that the rest of the game.

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Three Stars
1st Star: Dorell Wright
Dorell was the only thing going for the Warriors offensively. He took some bad shots, but he earned his trips to the line getting a game-high nine free throws. 30 points, six rebounds, two assists, a steal, and two blocks showed his activity tonight. Oh, and only one turnover in 42 minutes.
2nd Star: David Lee
Slim pickings tonight, but I’ll give the nod to Lee here in the second slot. His jumper wasn’t on point tonight, but he still managed to pull in a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He picked up two early offensive fouls, one of which was unwarranted, and never got in a rhythm after that. Zero assists for the first time in 10 games, but he wasn’t the black hole Thornton was.
3rd Star: Stephen Curry
The last Warrior who managed double digits against a below-average defensive unit. Despite sporting a padded shooting sleeve for his tender elbow, his was still hitting from deep. He also regularly found teammates right under the hoop. Unfortunately, a couple attempts ended poorly leaving Curry with only five assists for the game. 15 points with only a single trip to the line, from a technical.

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Monta Ellis: Monta’s plight is equally frustrating and sad. Although he can get to the rim almost at will, the refs haven’t rewarded him for it. The man constantly ends up on the floor after drives, but to no avail. Maybe he needs to change his approach to be less calculating and more chaotic. Less white swan, more black swan.
Lou Amundson: He continues to solidify my belief that he’s the best defensive big on the Warriors. Not a bold statement given the personnel, but he brings the effort and energy. On two consecutive possessions Amundson picked off a pass, then took a charge on the next. At least, I started to clap only to realize they had called a blocking foul instead.
The Nightmare: Despite a trifecta of Fridays (middle name, day, and internet sensation) coming together, Udoh couldn’t bring it tonight. Other than a huge rejection on the unsuspecting Lopez, his offensive shortcomings and defensive rebounding remained problems.
Defense with the wrong limbs: Although I commend the Warrior for active hands from time to time, defense is still played with the feet. Of the notable Warriors, I find Law and Amundson’s defensive footwork fairly good. Lee isn’t so bad in this regard, however his unimpressive size and reach do little to bother the big men of the league. The hands, however, are what really hurt the Warriors. Silly reach-in fouls, or worse, touch fouls send their opponents at the 3rd highest rate. If they can learn to limit the unnecessary fouls, their defense will greatly improve.
Mismatches: Phoenix exploited their considerable size advantage by utilizing Hill, Carter, and Dudley in the post. Curry and Ellis were, naturally, the victims. With Frye back in the mix with the other shooters Phoenix forced the Warriors to pick their poison. Smart game plan from the Suns.
Pick and roll: Too bad Nash had to show up tonight. It seems the defensive game plan was to show hard on screens to contain Nash and his go-to play. The Suns, however, quickly adjusted and begin slipping screens early to roll to the basket. After some success in the 2nd quarter, Gortat started the 3rd and quickly racked up 10 points. Udoh never adjusted, or was never told to, and the game got away from there.
PNR Master: Nash’s PNR skills were on full display tonight. He hit 3s when they went under the screen, and he hit rolling bigs when they went over. His timing and spacing are perfect in the PNR. On one instance, Frye bobbled a pass despite the ball being delivered straight, and a tad early, to his hands.
The More You Know: Curry has hit multiple 3s for his seventh straight game now, his longest streak of the season. He’s also hit 40% or better in each of those games.

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The Warriors face the Mavericks again on Sunday in Dallas. Although the Mavs came back from a huge deficit Wednesday night, they’ve only won half their games in over last 10. The Warriors should make some adjustments to deal with Dirk better. I don’t expect Udoh’s length to be a factor, so he’ll have to avoid sending Dirk to the line and live with the results. The Warriors should be looking to run out more in transition where Acie had some success. Similarly, they should be getting back on defense where they’ve been allowing too many end-to-end passes for easy baskets. Prediction: 101-97 W’s.

4 Responses

  1. EGonz415

    Damn warriors need to play defense!! We score 100+ points every game but give up 110? WTF!! Stop drafting small forwards and start drafting big powerful centers that can block, rebound and have a post up game!!! All we do is shoot jump shots. NO POST UP GAME!!


  2. bgalella

    This season obviously didn’t go as planned, but the foundation is there, but think a coaching change is necessary to get Golden State into playoff contention.