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.