Preview & Chat: The Golden State Warriors

Kurt —  November 1, 2006

And one more for the road: If the Lakers are going to win tonight — going 2-0 without Kobe — we need to see some of the same things we saw against the Suns, because the Warriors are Suns-lite this season.

By my calculations last night, the Lakers took nearly 2/3 of their shots in the in the paint, including 24 lay-ups (and just 17% from beyond the arc). Like they did at the start of the playoff series last year the Lakers used their size inside to get good shots and it softened up the defense for good looks at the three later in the game. The Lakers should be able to do that tonight, the Suns should actually be better interior defenders that the Warriors.

The other key is the bench play (always big in back to backs). Last night the trio of Cook, Farmar and Radmanovic improved the Lakers defense — they were all double-digit positives in +/- (Cook 10, Radman 12 and Farmar 13, Odom was the only other Laker that did that well, with +14). You can’t read too much into those number but you can say those three clearly outplayed the Suns bench. They need to do the same thing to the Warriors.

How about that Bynum kid? Maybe the preseason wasn’t a fluke. Bynum had to be the highlight of the game for Laker fans — 18 points on 63.6% shooting, nine boards and five assists. Most importantly, he looked comfortable, pushing around former point guard Boris Diaw (what the heck were the Hawks thinking?). As I said before, there may be no two better teams for Bynum to face at the start of the season than the banged-up Suns (a healthy Amare makes things harder for Drew) followed by the “we’re going small even if the personnel is not quite right” Warriors.

I expect more of the same tonight.

Also from the how about that guy line, Maurice Evans looked great with 17 points (61.5% shooting), a +7 and good defense and play all around.

Who didn’t look good? Sasha was given a golden opportunity that I’m not sure he earned — Kobe’s spot in the starting lineup. In the first half he proceeded to go 0-4 (all threes), with two assists and one turnover, and is -6. Evans started in the second half, and I bet does tonight. It’s a new season, but Sasha shows the same old inconsistency.

Phil and Kobe? We don’t need no stinkin’ Phil and Kobe?
The Lakers two biggest names are staying home for tonight’s game. Kobe had some soreness in his knee so said he is sitting out the first couple of games (but is “optimistic about the home-and-home this weekend with the Sonics).

When he begged off going to Fresno in the preseason, I thought Phil Jackson was wisely using his surgery to avoid places he didn’t want to go. But tonight is a regular season game in the beautiful Bay Area, and Phil is staying home. So his hip must really be bothering him. I don’t expect big changes, but I’m curious how the substitution patterns and other things will be different with Rambis at the helm.

Two more years: In a move sure to have John Hollinger scratching his head, the Lakers picked up a two-year option for Brian Cook before the game yesterday. That’s nice, but I’m more concerned that Walton gets resigned for a few more years.

Jerry Buss is not going to get you a Rose:
It’s been brought up a few places, including TJ Simers asking Phil Jackson on the radio: Are the Lakers interested in now available Jalen Rose. Well, first off, in the afore mentioned interview, Phil basically shot the idea down. He said, and he’s right, that Rose is not the player he used to be. Now, the Knicks asked 26 minutes of him a game last season and if you cut that to 15 Rose might have more of a Robert Horry shelf life. But, do you think the Lakers are going to cut Aaron McKie and eat $2.5 mil to bring in Rose?

How much difference can a coach make? It made a big difference for the Lakers last season when Phil Jackson took the helm, and the Warriors are hoping to see the same thing from having Don Nelson come on board.

What Nelson has to work with is a great backcourt and some projects. Baron Davis should thrive in the more open system, he is a fun great open court player (when his body doesn’t betray him). Jason Richardson had a career best year last year (PER of 19.2) and this season should arrive on a more national scene.

But then there are the projects — Mickael Pietrus, Zarko Cabarkapa, Ike Diogu, Andris Biedrins, Monta Ellis and Dajuan Wagner. Nellie needs to see which of these guys can play in his system and who can’t, then start reshaping the roster. My guess is that means a slow start for the Warriors but they get better by next March. And then next season.

Coolest of the NBA Previews: You have to check out what lowpost.net did for Golden State — What would you do if you were running the franchise, an interactive game.

What to look for tonight: To me, this game is all about defense and defensive effort for the Lakers. Last night the Lakers used their length to frustrate the Suns after the first quarter — they shot 33% in the second, 41% in the third and 50% in the fourth. The Lakers can go big and do the same thing to the Warriors if they don’t get tired and lazy on rotations.

Another key is just how much defensive effort the Warriors put out – they weren’t a good defensive team before Don Nelson walked in the door. The Lakers should be able to establish themselves inside again, or at least force Nelli to go with guys like Diogu and Adonal Foyle that muck with the running style he’s trying to install.

Kurt

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17 responses to Preview & Chat: The Golden State Warriors

  1. Richardson says he won’t play and Nelli says he will. We’ll see who’s right. Very interested in what the Warriors will look like this year. I forsee some trades being made down the road in regards to players that don’t fit this system. Baron Davis has lost 15 pounds and seems happy to have Nelli in town.

    After getting their hopes up last eason, Warrior fans are guarding their optimism like a fat kid does his ding dongs …

  2. chris henderson November 1, 2006 at 5:19 pm

    now that you mention it, the Lakers are a pretty tall team. I knew we had tall guards because of Phil’s perference for that, but with Cook, lamar, Vlad and Andrew in the line up, we are a tall team…not to mention that we have Kwame and Mihm sitting on the bench.
    how do we compare to the rest of the league? are we on the taller side on the scale?

  3. chris henderson November 1, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    oops, forgot about Ronnie T, he’s what..?..6’10″? right? so we have a string of 6’10” ers and a second wave of 6’8 and 6’9″ ers, our guards are 6’4″ and 6’5″, (and it’s a good thing we got Farmar to chase around those little speedy guys like Nash, Kidd and Chris Paul)
    wouldn’t it be nice if the Lakers got the “surprise hit of the draft” in farmar? we haven’t had that kind of luck in a while. (but we did have that great string of 26th picks, like AC Green, Vlade Divac and others from the great Jerry West)
    but if Farmar can develop into that kind of pure point guard the Lakers have been missing for years now, just imagine how bright the future will be as Bynum continues to develop, and of course, we’ll still have Kobe, Lamar, and maybe the otehr Vlad will come around as well.

  4. Chris, I haven’t done the math, but I think it’s safe to say the Lakers would be one of the tallest teams in the NBA. Which is interesting — it fits with the system they are playing but is opposite this week’s fad in the NBA.

    By the way, a few years from now after Greg Oden and Love are in the NBA, every GM will be wanting to go big again.

  5. Doug Collins made several references to the length and size of the Lakers last night. The question is what course of action could D’ Antoni have taken when the Lakers weren’t coerced into their up and down game plan…

  6. I learned this from one of my coaches back in the day. Smaller guys can compete with bigger guys and sometimes even win, but usually talented bigger guys wear you down and win.
    Small ball is the flavor of the month. It won’t win championships.

  7. I seem to remeber the Lakers not playing well in the second game of back-to-backs last season.

  8. Line is interesting at GS 7 down from 8, that means that they would have been favored by a few (3-4) even with a healthy Kobe. That means that there is some serious respect for this team out there, obviously for the coach but I’m not convinced there isn’t some overreaction there. I would be surprised if they did much more than break .500 and that is far from assured IMO.

  9. Ok,
    Just wanted to drop in about last nights game…Got in just as Jeffery Osborne was finishing up the national anthem. The dim lights and the blinding bright court looked amazing as we took our student seats to watch Magic, Kareem, Scott, Worthy and Coop take floor at the For…Hey wait a minute!
    This aint the Forum and I was fortunate enough to be in section 119, row 17 and Sasha was starting but I have to say as strange as it might sound for some, having the lights out over the crowd makes a world of difference. The game looks different, the crowd reacts differently it was really like being back at the Forum!
    This is one of the best moves the Lakers have made to improve the way the fans see the game since (insert obscure trade reference here).
    It was a great game to be at and a great opening night win. Our bench is deep, we have a hungry center with a jedi master for a teacher and Kobe will be back sooner than we think.

  10. It’s game time fellas! Odom already put in 2. Dang Murphy!

    Lakers by 8 tonight!

  11. Fingers crossed

  12. This team is really fun to watch.

  13. dang! …Ronny! … goodonya!
    also loved the way Lamar took control when GS was making that last ditch effort to come back at the end, LO really took over the game. it’s great to see him become the leader in Kobe’s absense, and the key to Lakers success is that he doesn’t defer to kobe when he comes back, but rather keeps playing at this level.
    the real challenge soon is getting all these guys playing time.
    the second unit outplayed the GS second unit, very even spread of minutes and they all deserved them.
    great game!

  14. Bynum should have dominated last night, against a small GS team, but didn’t. It seems that he still has a problem with playing back-to-backs.

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the way Bynum and the Lakers are playing right now. It does seem, however, that just as Bynum did this past summer, he will be fatigued on the second half of back-to-backs.

  15. it doesn’t seem like he’s fatigued so much as the other players failed to set him up in the post. he was still running the court fine to me which makes sense since, despite his great Game 1 numbers he only played 25 or so minutes. hopefully Phil gets on the gang’s case about feeding Bynum like he did with that other guy in the past.

  16. Yeah, they have to look for Bynum early in the offense. The kid is smart enough to kick the ball out if he doesn’t have anything or if a double team comes. The offense is predicated on low post production, and Bynum seems capable, so let’s go to him.

    I told everyone before the season started that at his high point I could see Turiaf being a better Udonis Haslem for the Lakers, because he’s got the same effort as Udonis, just with a better NBA powerforward body.

    I think once Kobe comes back Farmar, Evans, and Turiaf should remain on the bench. The reason being is that they need energy guys like that coming off the bench. Those guys come in the game and get crunk!

    I love the way Lamar Odom and Luke Walton play off of each other…Two very smart players that make spectacular but simple basketball plays.

    Shammond Williams is going to have at least one 20 point night coming off of the bench this year. He’s one of those guys that is so streaky you never know when he is going to break out.

    I hope the Lakers don’t allow Mihm and Kwame to come right in and take Turiaf and Bynum’s minutes. We haven’t had two guys play as well as they have in the post in a while. Mihm and Kwame are going to have to EARN their minutes back. At least in my opinion.

    Are real weak spot to this point: Free-throw shooting!
    Can we work on that guys?

    Sasha: WTF???

    Lastly, the coaching staff should have Smush do nothing but work on his shot and shoot threes in practice. The guy can get to the cup at will, but his weak spot is his outside shooting. If he was able to get that down, he would be a very solid player.

    I’m LOVING this team…they’re playing LIGHTS OUT basketball!

  17. Bynum got into foul trouble (4PF and a tech) and didn’t play much (11 mins) but he did do some nice things while he was in there, 5/4/2 with a block. If he plays longer stretches and 25-30 minutes, those numbers are solid for the second straight night. Next game will be another test to see if he can bounce back and not be frustrated with foul calls.

    And Turiaf, what can you say about him? The man was awesome. Picking up the slack and then some for Bynum.