Preview & Chat: The Golden State Warriors

Kurt —  March 19, 2009

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers

Records: Lakers 53-14 (1st in the West) Warriors 24-43 (10th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.7 (1st in league) Warriors 109.5 (10th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.6 (6th in league) Warriors 113.0 (28th of 30)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Warriors Monta Ellis, Stephen Jackson, Marco Belinelli, Brandan Wright, Ronny Turiaf

Lakers notes: While in recent posts we’ve railed against the bench play of late, there is one thing from yesterday’s comments that bears repeating — Phil Jackson does not have a lot of options right now.

Until Andrew Bynum comes back, he has to stick with pretty much this front line rotation, and if winning is the goal then that means lots of minutes for Gasol.

In the playoffs, with long rests between games and long commercial breaks during them, he can limit the minutes of Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar and give those minutes to Fish and Kobe, but in the regular season with 10 of 15 games remaining on the road, you need the bench guys to play. He can’t yet tighten his rotations.

But when the games matter, if the bench is still playing like this, some people are going to see a lot less of the court.

On a separate note, you can see some Lakers players NCAA brackets right here. The fact I have Gonzaga going farther than Adam Morrison does concerns me greatly.

The Warriors Coming In: No Jamal Crawford tonight, not because he is injured but because Don Nelson is brilliant. Or just nuts. But the coach is sitting him. Bottom line is it means more minutes for Marco Belinelli and Anthony Morrow. On the other hand, Stephen Jackson will be back and should be on his best behavior — since he already has 16 technical fouls this season, every one earn gets him another game suspended without pay. Of course, the question of what is Jackson’s best behavior is an open one.

I like Monta Ellis, and to be honest I think the Warriors have a roster that is not as bad as its record. I like the athleticism of Kelenna Azubuike. Anthony Randolph could be good. Corey Maggette may be overpaid but his a good scorer to have coming off the bench. Andris Biedrins is quality, when healthy. They are overpaying for a few of these guys, and there are too many shooters who don’t care about defense, but the roster has the pieces in place to start to build something.

But this is a franchise that is at the top of my list right now of how not to run a front office. Everyone needs to be on the same page — the GM getting players that fit the coach’s system, with everyone from the owner on down buying into that system. But that’s not what is going on in the Bay Area at all — the GM and coach are in a power struggle, and player/personnel moves struggle because of it. Mullin wanted to offer Barron Davis a three-year deal to come back, the team president shot it down.

Mullin is going to be out soon. But that leaves Don Nelson, who has seemed more mad than genius lately, running the show and dictating front office moves. Is that how you improve the franchise?

Keys To The Game: Transition defense. Transition defense. Transition defense. The Lakers gave up 68 points in the first half the last time they played the Warriors. Transition defense. Transition defense. Transition defense.

Part of transition defense, however, is not getting sucked into the style and tempo the other team wants to play at. It means not launching threes 5 seconds into the shot clock or pushing the break when nothing develops. It means making smart decisions. I’m looking at you, Jordan Farmar. The Lakers need to dictate the tempo of this game.

Turnovers will also be key. The Lakers lost to Philly because they could not hold on tot the ball and that meant easy baskets in transition for the Sixers. Do that tonight and the Lakers are in another dogfight. Hold on to the ball and it should be a comfortable win.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start here with the TNT crew. I suppose a Charles Barkley Drinking Game would be in bad form.

216 responses to Preview & Chat: The Golden State Warriors

  1. 200. Bynum said that he wanted to start basketball drills as early as today. That he has no problem running and needs to work on lateral movement. I still think that he will be back for the last game or two of the regular season.

  2. 201, I’m more optimistic still. Most doctors say MCL grade 2 rehab is 6-10 weeks, not 8-12, and that’s for us mortals, not for someone who has a trainer working with him every day. I bet he plays versus Houston, assuming of course, he doesn’t have some kind of unforseen setback or reinjury. That would mean 7 regular season games.

  3. This two week period reminds me of a mini version of the “sky is falling” episode that was running daily just before the Christmas game. I’m not convinced that this show of low energy is indicative of anything serious but I am worried about two issues that really amount to the same problem. Kobe and Pau look like they earned a gold and silver medal over the summer. There have been some uncharacteristic mental mistakes by Kobe and Pau seems less effective in the 4th quarter then he is earlier in the game (aside form the Portland game where he just had a bad 1st-4th quarter).

    Seeing how Pop is resting Duncan on back to backs, I wonder if Phil has a similar plan to start resting his stars a bit more. If the Lakers manage to go 5-2 or 6-1 on this trip (dare I hope for a perfect trip?) might we see some of the old tricks that Riley used to get harassed by the league over when he used to rest his players in the week or so before the playoffs?

    Lets not forget that the Dubs handed the Lepers a full fledged beat down right after the Christmas game and the Cavs needed a buzzer beating 3 from LBJ to beat them a few weeks ago. As bad as the Warriors are they can be a difficult bunch of players to put away.

    If Bynum comes back and can log 15-25 effective minutes by the start of the playoffs and if Kobe, Fish and Gasol get some rest, I think we’ll see some dominating play out of the bench come playoff time and the narrative of this time period will be about the Lakers overcoming the grind of a long season. I feel pretty good about that being a highly probable scenario. I am worried about the fatigue factor but the coaches probably have a better read on the situation then I do.

    All that said, it was nice getting Sasha back. Maybe he was getting the Machine 2.0 OS system installed and what we were seeing all season was a loaner built from the parts of Machine 2007.

  4. Kurt – great point. Bynum is probably so amped to return and Phil likely wants to keep him from getting overanxious about it. I think most of us would love to see him play in at least 2-4 games (maybe you rest him on that Sunday Memphis game?) to close out the year so he has a small amount of time to get some type of rhythm. One thing to remember is that if he starts practicing with the team, he will get his timing down with the offense and defense – even if he’s not playing right now. Here’s hoping for his return in the next few weeks, a few games to play and then prepare for the playoffs.

  5. With Bynum- We can hope for what folks have been saying (15-25 mins, rebounding, interior defensive presence), allowing are bench to get deeper and most iportanty get Pau more rest.

    Without Bynum- We will need LO to play like 17,18,19,20 rebound LO, Sasha to play like he did last night…every night, Fish to get those first half flurries of PUJUT’s going and Kobe and Pau to dominate.

    Either way we can win, but with Bynum, we will be asking players to be responsible for roles they are capable of carrying out. Without Bynum, players as a hole are going to have to step up.

  6. agreed kwame a. agreed kurt. i just don’t want to hear anymore bad news right now. i want to see this team hum the way it should and i think bynum has a lot to do with this (re: players stepping up though not as much as say a derrick rose lost from chicago or a shaq lost in phoenix and need i say ginobili coz we are that deep, plain and simple). i am forcefully anticipating a last week comeback and some rest for our starters after a 7-game challenge (our schedule is really playing hard on us now, is there a way to balance out more favorably the streaks of home and road games? alas, should not be the case). bynum will be back and i am all for him off the bench, while ariza is inserted to the starting 5. we have too many playmakers up there so keep luke on the bench to facilitate things. GO LAKERS!

  7. Here’s the rare occasion where I sincerely doubt the intelligence and common sense of a blogger:

    He wants us to name NBA players after a campaign of torture and ethnic cleansing. Great stuff.

  8. kwame a,
    If Kobe would concentrate on defense, and focus on running the offense through Gasol instead of trying to do too much on his own, the team would do fine. Even without Bynum.

  9. Ex-Without Bynum, LO is critical

  10. The Dude Abides March 20, 2009 at 8:07 pm


    Perhaps he’s referring to the Monty Python version. I don’t believe too many NBA fans are going to be offended by something that happened something like 800 years ago.

  11. Good play from Odom is necessary; it doesn’t have to be great play, if Kobe would focus on Gasol and defense.

  12. 212. After reading and rereading that article, I will never look and think of Odom (and Lamar) in the same way again.

  13. The Dude Abides March 20, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    212, 213. It’s why so many of us here love LO, even though he drives us crazy sometimes. Of all the players on the Lakers, I’ll be the happiest for him if the team wins the championship this season.

  14. 212 – Fantastic article, major props for sharing that.

    Lamar Odom has been with us through the highs and lows. He HAS to be re-signed next year. He makes up the fabric of this team, the character. Who would have thought when he came here 5 years ago that he would become such an integral part of this organization? It’s difficult to imagine a Lakers team without him.

    SI has the best human pieces of any major network.

  15. Bulls preview is up.