Game Preview & Chat: The Golden State Warriors

Kurt —  December 9, 2007

Records: Lakers 11-8; Warriors 11-8
Offensive ratings: Lakers 110.8 (9); Warriors 111.8 (7th)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.8 (11th); Warriors 109.3 (21s)t
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: (Lakers.com predicts Walton starts, I think he sits out tonight, so here’s a guess)Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf, Chris Mihm
Warriors: Baron Davis, Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Andris Biedrins

Lakers Notes: It’s a little surprising to see the Lakers with the 11th best defensive rating in the league this season, it doesn’t match with what the eye sees. The Lakers defense has been inconsistent, at times quite good, at other times painful. Overall, The Lakers defense is better than last year, but still has some weak spots, which kwame a. pointed out well in the comments the other day.

1) Fish/Farmar-Neither of these guys are that tall or that quick (Farmar is fast) so they have had big problems containing players like Parker, D. Williams, C. Paul, AI. I hope Phil switches up to zone d some times and also change up the pick and roll strategy (instead of always going under the screen, aggressively double or switch)

2) Kobe- He is still roaming for most of the game. The best solution to this is to put him on the ball, he plays great on-ball d, but if he’s guarding a player who moves and shoots, his roaming d creates open shots and lanes for the opponents.

3) Mihm- When Kwame comes back, this should easily be solved.

The Warriors Coming In: They’ve won seven in a row and seem to be a hot and fearless team (have they seen a shot they don’t like?) To find out what’s behind this run and how far it can go, I asked a few questions of Atma Brother #1 from Golden State of Mind and The W Column?

The Warriors are as hot a team as there is in the Association right now, and it’s all thanks to Stephen Jackson. Right? That’s what I keep reading anyway. Seriously, what helped turn this team around a few weeks ago?

Jack has played a tremendous role in helping right this sinking ship after that 1-6 start. We call it The Jackson Effect.

Another big reason for the turnaround is that the Warriors are playing infinitely better team and individual defense. They’re using their speed and smarts to make up for their lack of bulk. Monta Ellis returning to his MIP form has also helped. Nellie’s pretty much killed the Marco Belinelli experiment too, which was just a disaster early on. Belinelli is still a young rookie, who has a lot of rough edges to work out before he reaches his seemingly high potential, and it really showed on the court. DJ Mbenga was a decent in-season acquisition as well that has given Nellie a big (very big) body to give teams a different look for a few minutes a game. Oh yeah not having to face the Utah Jazz twice in the span of 5 days really helps too.

2. Monta Ellis has played great of late, being a key part of this current run. What has evolved in his game to help him fit into the system Don Nelson runs?

Monta’s follow up season to his MIP campaign got off to a pretty rocky start. His defense (like every other Warrior) was pretty poor and he was oddly playing like a high volume, low percentage scorer, which wasn’t the case last year. For the past 10 games though there’s been a lot to like about Monta’s game. He’s playing smarter and using his uncanny speed and quickness to his advantage again. He’s been taking good care of the rock and sprinkling in some very nice dimes to complement his great scoring.

The most impressive addition to his game that really wasn’t there earlier in the season or even last year has been his rebounding. In the past 5 games he’s averaging 7.4 rodmans, which is a big reason Nellie has been able to stick with his smallish lineups and the Warriors have gone 4-1, with that one loss to the Magic in OT. Nellie probably still would like him to be more of a distributor in a more traditional point guard mold, but if Monta’s rebounding like he has been, I’m sure Nellie doesn’t mind Mississippi Bullet shooting for the rim before looking for others.

3. The knock on the Warriors is defense. Is it better than the early season numbers suggest, or is it still the Achilles heal? Is it the key to the Warriors taking the next step?

Depending on who they’re playing the Warriors are either an excellent defensive squad or a historically atrocious one. Slow rosters without a big bruiser down low are going to get locked up, picked, and run out of the gym by this speedy Warriors cast. Reasonably athletic rosters with skilled big men who know how to work the post and have a few shooters (Spurs, Jazz, Celtics, Magic, Cavs, and even the Lakers to some extent) will eat this team alive. Watching the Warriors this season and during their 16-5 spring run last season to make the playoffs has made me realize how stubborn and blind some NBA coaches can be. Feed your big men and pound the Warriors inside with even a good to average big man (Chris Kaman, Samuel Dalembert, Antawn Jamison, or even Al Thornton) and you will own the Warriors on most nights. If the Lakers want to win tonight’s game just feed Andrew Bynum, Ronny Turiaf, or Lamar Odom in the post and then dish it out for some open jumpers. I’m not even kidding. It’s really just that simple.

4. He’s a personal favorite (and still very popular in LA) — just how much fun is it watching a healthy Baron Davis every night?

There are very few players in the entire association that are as fun to watch as Baron Davis on any given night. He dazzles you with his amazing handles, crafty finishes, unbelievable dishes, swift footwork, power in the post, and big shots. BD is one of the few players in the league that could fit right in to those 80’s Showtime Laker squads or 90’s Run TMC teams and they wouldn’t miss a beat. Boom Dizzle has incredibly high hoops IQ and his game is very old skool in many respects. We’re lucky to have him in the Bay. You take away Dizzle from this Warriors squad and this team’s win totals will instantly fizzle as they go Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Minus Baron the Warriors are possibly the worst team in the league. Hopefully this is the year fans and coaches around the league finally recognize game and put this man in the All-Star game. We could us your help Laker fans!

Injury Update: Kwame Brown and Luke Walton are game-time decisions. Luke twisted his ankle in practice the other day (and if I were going to give him a game off, this might be it, he is not a big match up plus in a run-and-gun style). T

Keys To The Game: The book for beating Golden State is pretty simple and Atma Brother #1 told us what it was — pound the ball on them on the inside. Heavy doses of Chris Mihm and Andrew Bynum on the block, and the Lakers should be posting up Lamar Odom as well (maybe even Kobe). Also, the Warriors give up more offensive rebounds than any team in the NBA — the Lakers need to pound the offensive glass to get the easy putbacks (and slow the Golden State break).

This is going to be a fast-paced game — the Warriors play at the fourth fastest pace in the league, the Lakers sixth — but the Lakers can’t get sucked into Golden State’s game. At some point Don Nelson will try to run the Lakers out of the building by going small, putting Al Harrington at center and matching him with a bunch of shooters and Baron Davis. Pat Riley’s Heat had a comfortable lead the other night when Nelson went small, and after a few made buckets, Riley decided to match that style. Big mistake, and the Warriors got a great win. The Lakers need to stick with what they do and not play the Warriors’ game.

One other thing the Lakers will need to do is play good defense in the paint, not giving up lay-ups and forcing the Warriors to shoot jumpers. They will do it, they love to shoot and shoot fast, so just take away the path of least resistance to the basket.

Tonight’s Game: Where Boom Dizzle Happens: I’m just looking forward to watching this one. I love to watch Baron Davis play. I think Bynum could have a huge game. This is a team the Lakers will be battling for playoff position at the end of the year, so a win here is a big plus.

Where you can watch: Game time is 6:30 p.m. (Pacific). In Los Angeles tune into Fox Sports, if you can listen on the radio check out AM 570 where Spero Dedes will rock the mic.

Kurt

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