The Warriors won, with rebounding and perimeter defense. I actually wonder if the Thunder are a good matchup for the Dubs because they feature no great two-guard, and approach the glass as though they fear it will slice their eyelids. Still, good win, national TV. Stephen Curry, passing like Nash. Monta Ellis, showing flashes of range that I could not foresee, back when he was a kid under Baron’s wing (Fact: Baron’s wing also has a beard).

There’s a media trope floating around that David Lee went out and responded to negative publicity. I’d say: He responded to Jeff Green’s negative defense, and the Thunder’s propensity to rely on the glasswork of a point guard. Players always want to succeed. I think we media schmoes try to reduce basketball to the psychological because it brings us closer–we hope. But we’re probably just creating mythology in the face of matchups and random chance.
But here’s some psychology: Points dominate our NBA judgment.

It’s like how Pavlov drew it up. Fans, players and coaches have an unbreakable psychological points craving. I noticed at the end of the game when fans preposterously chanted “M-V-P” in Monta’s direction. I noticed in the post-game presser when Keith Smart posited that David Lee’s rebounding was spurred by scoring. And I noticed in the locker room, when Dorell Wright shook his head into muttered grumbles–because went 4-16. I mentioned to Wright that he had led the team in plus-minus, and that his defense on Durant may have helped win the game. He wasn’t cheered. The new three-point contest entrant is just like everyone else, save for Udoh.

When I asked Ekpe if he knew of his swelling defensive stats:

“I play defense! That’s what I do!”

Then I inquired as to whether he wished stats could capture defense better:

Udoh: “Man, you just have to watch.”

ESS: “Do you almost judge yourself differently than the other players do. They might think about scoring more?”

Udoh: “Ya. I’m the help man. Whenever I get a chance to help, I gotta be there for my teammates.”

Smart played Ekpe in the final, key defensive possessions. Rare for a rooke, and rarer for any Warriors player to say: “I play defense! That’s what I do!”

Twitter: @SherwoodStrauss

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5 Responses

  1. Daniel

    I wouldn’t even begin to imagine what mathematical soup NBA defensive metrics would entail to be accurate, but I think it is easy enough to see that Udoh is often “there”. And “there” would mean; around the ball when it’s in/near the paint, in the television camera frame, doing something to try and defend the bucket or, a times, the perimeter — wherever he is, basically. Biedrins tries to do the same inside, but it’s hard for him to be “there” more often, what with the ever-present foul trouble.

    But regardless, the Warriors do present an interesting line-up when it’s Udoh, Biedrins, Lee, Ellis, and Curry, and while they obviously can’t have it out there for long since Lee can’t guard a small forward (they would likely have to play zone during these times), they’d definitely be able to defend the rim and rebound.

  2. EvanZ

    Hey, Ethan, some stats do try to capture defense. I have him at +2.44 on pure defense (not including rebounding). His +/- stats also indicate he is a net positive. His rebounding leaves something to be desired, but I think it’s because he’s too busy playing defense. That’s what he do!

  3. Eric

    Couldn’t agree with you more. Not bad for a team without a “true point guard”.