Preview and Chat: The Golden State Warriors

Darius Soriano —  October 31, 2010 — 95 Comments

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Records: Lakers 2-0, Warriors 2-0
Offensive ratings: Lakers 114.2 , Warriors 122.6
Defensive ratings: Lakers 109.1, Warriors 111.4
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Warriors: Monta Ellis, Reggie Williams, Dorell Wright, David Lee, Andris Biedrins
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum (knee); Luke Walton (hamstring), Warriors: Stephen Curry Ankle, Lou Amundson (finger), Epke Udoh (wrist)

The Lakers Coming in:  The Lakers are 2-0.  The starters are playing well and the bench is contributing.  Mitch Kupchak’s off-season moves are paying off with new acquisitions Steve Blake and Matt Barnes being nightly contributors in the rotation and the retained Shannon Brown showing improvement in all phases of his game in the early goings of the season.  Really, there’s not much to complain about as the Lakers look to be rounding into form after an up and down preseason.  Furthermore, Kobe’s knee looks to be getting better and better while his shooting woes from the preseason have had a solid uptick.

If I was going to nit pick anything about the Lakers it would be their defensive numbers so far, but I really would be nit picking.  While I’m not happy with their defensive efficiency being 109.1, the Lakers played a hot shooting Houston team on opening night (while themselves suffering a little bit of a hangover from raising a banner and receiving a ring) and then played a traditionally high octane offense Phoenix team in game 2.  So, not only is the sample size small but the opponents and circumstances have a bit to do with the early numbers as well.   I anticipate those defensive numbers will improve as the games go on, though facing the Warriors – another traditionally high scoring outfit – may mean that we have to wait until another day for that to happen.

The Warriors Coming in:  Golden State is also 2-0, though unlike the Lakers, it’s not that normal an occurrence.  It’s actually the first time the Dubs have started out a season winning their first two contests since the 1994-95 season.

And they’ve come out the gates this quickly on the strength of their dynamic duo in the back court, Monta Ellis and Steph Curry.  Ellis has been a scoring machine early on, averaging 30.5 points a game while also tallying 6.5 assists while Curry has also been scoring well averaging 20.5 a game with 8.5 assists a night.  After struggling to find a chemistry last year, this duo seems to have found their groove together by sharing the ball handling responsibilities and finding ways to have their games compliment each others nicely.  They’ve both shown great ability to be ball handlers in the P&R while also being effective as spot up guys and threats when the other guy is leading the offense.  They’ve really developed a balance so, it’s a tough break for the Warriors that Curry suffered a sprained ankle against the Rockets and will not suit up tonight.

The Warriors also have some new additions that are playing well.  Former Knick David Lee has picked up right where last year’s All-Star campaign ended by scoring (16 ppg) and rebounding (13.5 rpg) well in the Dubs first two games.  Coming from D’Antoni’s fast paced system in NY has aided Lee’s transition to the Warriors who play an equally frenetic style where pace and free lancing in the open court are staples of the offense.  Dorell Wright has also been playing very well for Golden State.  As their starting SF, he’s showing that he can do more than be a spot up shooter in the corner (like he was in Miami) by handling the ball some, finishing on the break, and creating for himself off the bounce in the half court.  We’ll see if the early returns can be sustained by Wright, but he’s definitely showing that he can be a solid contributor as a two way player in the Warriors’ system.

Warriors Blogs:  For excellent insight on the Dubs, check out Warriors World.

Keys to game:  For the second straight game, the Lakers face a fast paced team that loves to push the ball and get baskets in early offense.  The Warriors currently lead the league in points per game and offensive efficiency so defense will be a major key in tonight’s contest.  This is especially true in transition so the Lakers need to turn and sprint back to defend the paint and then find their men once they’ve done so.  If there’s ever a night where trying to slap the ball away from the defensive rebounder or sneaking a steal in the back court were a bad idea, tonight is it.  The Warriors will punish this lack of discipline with a quick strike attack so the Lakers need to mind the defensive game plan by getting back to slow the Warriors’ primary and secondary break.

In the half court, the Warriors run a lot of pick and roll, so the Lakers won’t have to change too much of what they did against the Suns when facing the Dubs.  With Curry out, Ellis will be the primary initiator of this set so the Lakers must find a way to simultaneously slow down Monta while not giving up too much to the screen man.  The Warriors two man game between Ellis/Lee will be a tough one to stop as Lee shows variety on offense by both picking and popping to shoot his jumper in the 15-18 foot range while still being a capable dive man and finishing in the paint.  And when you add that to Monta’s blinding quickness when coming off the screen and his steadily improving jumper, there’s really no easy answers when defending this action.  If I had my way, I’d have the Lakers go under the screen and make Monta a shooter, but he’s in such a groove right now that he may bury jumpers and force a change in strategy.  So, my actual suggestion would be to vary the strategy depending on initiation point of the screen by hedging and recovering when the screen is set above the three point line, switching if the screen is set within 18 feet, and going under the pick and making the ball handler take long two pointers (the most inefficient shot in the game) if the screen is set at the top of the key.  But again, there are no easy answers here so the Lakers must be disciplined by following the plan and not getting discouraged if some shots fall.  This team does score well, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if they’re knocking down shots.

Offensively, the Lakers have the same advantages against this team that they did against the Suns and I expect a very similar game plan.  First and foremost that means getting the ball inside to both Pau and Odom.  Biedrins is a solid defender but he lacks the bulk to deny Pau good position so option number one should be to let Pau work from the post.  I especially would like to see Pau set up on the left block so that his lefty hook when drop stepping baseline can be utilized.  Remember, Biedrins is a left handed player so when Pau uses his strong (right) hand, he’ll be shooting against Biedrin’s strong hand too.  By going to his left, he neutralizes some of Andris’ shot blocking ability.  Odom too should be featured on the low block against David Lee.  Lee is not a good defensive player and can be beaten on straight post ups and with quick drives if isolated in space from the mid-post.  LO has shown that he’s ready to be an offensive contributor from these exact areas, so I hope the Lakers take advantage of this match up tonight.  Obviously there’s still Kobe and Artest as viable offensive options against this team and I would not be surprised at all to see both set up on the low block to punish Wright, Williams, Radman, et al in the post.  But overall, I hope to see the Lakers’ bigs carry the day against this team.

Earlier on we mentioned pace being a big part to this game, but rebounding will also be key.  The Suns out rebounded the Lakers on Friday and in their preseason match ups the Lakers struggled to control their defensive glass against the Warriors.  Some of that is because the Lakers’ D was scrambling because of how quickly teams like the Suns and W’s change ends so when a shot went up it was hard to find a man.  But it also just comes down to marking players when the shot goes up.  The Warriors big men are active on the glass so this will be an important stat to keep track of as the game goes on.  If the Warriors are close or leading in the second half, I’m nearly positive a big part of it will be because they’ve got a rebounding advantage and have double digit offensive rebounds.

Where you can watch:  6:30pm start time on Fox Sports West.  Also listen on ESPN Radio 710am.  Remember too, for all of you outside the LA area, NBA League Pass has its free preview going on until Tuesday, so check your cable provider for the game.

Darius Soriano

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95 responses to Preview and Chat: The Golden State Warriors

  1. A little off topic, but Doug Collins claims that no player (not even the veterans) on the 76ers roster has a had a winning record as a professional. This from Kurt over at PBT.

    Just off the top of my head, didn’t Kapono win the chip with Miami in ’06 and Battie was with the Magic in ’09 when we took them in five, no? And I’m pretty sure Elton Brand led the Clippers to one of the few times they had a better record than us in ’06. Way to know your own team well, especially for such a respected coach.

    And of course, this one’s for Warren.

  2. David St. Hubbins October 31, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I think Collins might be referring to his players’ career win/loss records. A few seasons with a good team like the Magic doesn’t cover the stink of the rest of Tony Battie’s career. Ditto for guys like Kapono and Brand who have spent the majority of their careers on bad teams.

    I will be interested to see how much Kobe matches up with Monta tonight. It’s a tough match up with bad knee. I know he is getting better, but his defense is well behind his offense. Do you think we will see more of a Fisher/Blake combo on Monta?

  3. I think you hit the rebounding point right on the head- shocking that a team as bad on the glass as PHX hung with us at rebounding.

    The Warriors don’t have any space eaters like Lopez or Yao though, though their bigs are mobile and hit the glass very well. Here’s to hoping we protect our defensive glass and get a contribution from Ron in this area.

    Also like the idea of going to Pau often – especially considering Biedrins has historically been very foul-prone. If we can get some quick fouls on him, looks like Smart will go to Dan Gadzuric next, which will make the going even easier inside.

  4. Darius, stop trying to fleece Reed in our fantasy league.

  5. Zephid,
    Reed wanted Blake Griffin so in return I asked for Joakim Noah. We both got guys we wanted. Don’t be upset because you’ve already lost the rebounding category to me for next weeks’ match up.

  6. How about “B Plus”?

  7. Warriors are an interesting team to play in that they will probably suck again this year yet they are always a scary team to play because they can score in such abundance.

    I’m hoping to see more strong contributions from Blake, Barnes and Brown and more importantly will be very happy to see another strong night from Odom. I sort of scoffed at the notion the his experience this summer would change him as a player but a consistently focused and aggressive Odom would be a huge impact this season.

    Happy Halloween FBAG

  8. Can we call him Theo Batliff already?

  9. Whatever happened to Jeremy Lin?

    I hope the rooks get to play tonight, they need this one, Phil. Their legs can keep up with the Dubs, and it will give our starters more time for rest.

  10. A small sample size to be sure, but it does highlight some of the things that we miss with Bynum in street clothes.

    Tonight should be a fun game to watch.

  11. Unleash the Morning After Bench!!

  12. anybody know a good site to watch the game on?

  13. PlanB.
    Ahh, I remember that one. Developed in parallel to ours, I believe.
    Yes … Yes, I like it.

  14. May I suggest my own crazy thoughts:

    1) B-Sharps
    2) Bad Boys
    3) The Balancines – means The Rockers in Spanish. 😉 Pau will like it.
    4) The Executioners
    5) The Harlequins ( a side reference to the snake family, Black Mamba I hear you)

  15. I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but to me, the key to why Lakers perhaps aren’t defending as well as we’re used to, is simply Bynum’s absence. This hurts us in two big ways:

    1. Obviously we miss Drew in the paint. Pau can play center and do it well, but Drew is simply bigger and that bulk is nice to have when guarding the basket.

    2. Since Drew is not in there, Pau is very weary of picking up fouls. I’ve seen a number of situations where he would normally go for the block, but has refrained from doing it in order to avoid foul trouble. Correctly in my mind, since the big man rotation gets thin – to say the least – when Drew is out and Pau has to sit.

    To sum up: I want Drew back. Preferably yesterday.

  16. Don’t expect the Warriors to pose any threats to us, but like 3ThreeIII posted, it should be an exciting game. Would love to see us jump on them early & demoralize ’em (especially considerin’ the fact that Curry will not be in their lineup), but more than likely, we’ll play down to the level of the competition & then win going away. Hopefully we can get a Sasha sighting tonight, along with the pups (rookies).

  17. David St. Hubbins October 31, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    @ Andreas G – Getting Drew back will help the D…a lot. However, I don’t think that is the whole issue. Team defense is predicated on chemistry and trust. The Lakers team defense will get better as the year goes on and they play together more (especially integrating the new guys from the bench). Defense is also predicated on effort. I think anyone who saw the beginning of the 3rd quarter at Phoenix would agree that the Lakers made a very poor defensive effort to start the half. I think both the chemistry and effort will improve with time. The return of Drew will make their defenese even better (and greater challenges than PHX and GS will help as well. The Lakers know they can beat these teams even with a subpar defensive effort by simply outscoring them).

  18. I just tried to start the game on the DireTV league pass, and it’s saying I haven’t purchased the channel. It’s showing me all the other league pass channels though. Anyone else having this problem?

  19. Yeah of course you’re right=)

    I just meant that there’s a trickle down effect from Drew’s absence that weakens Pau’s and, to a certain extent, Lamar’s defense as well.

    (And of course the same thing goes for the offense, where the second unit is weakened by Lamar starting instead of Drew.)

  20. Mimsy,
    Are you outside the LA market? If not, you’ll need to catch the game on Fox Sports.

  21. 14. Since I’m old enough to remember the very dispicable Laimber and co. beating the Lakers in the Finals–without injured Magic and B. Scott–I’m going to go ahead and say “Hell NO!!!!” to number 2.

    PS Balacines is ‘rockers’ in Spanish but nothing to do with music more like moving parts as in a engine which would work except it can also refer to rocking chair or crib which don’t seem that relevant the Lakers bench.

  22. Yeah, LO down low, for the easy basket.

  23. Fish 1 for 1! Looks like a good start already to me!

  24. Interesting decision by Phil to put Artest on Ellis…Ellis is the exact sort of matchup Ron can’t really handle anymore IMO.

    Also, can we foul Andris Biedrins just for entertainment purposes?

  25. Andreas, a lot of it has to do with how early it is in the season. Last year, after their first two games, the Lakers gave up 100+ in 20 straight games. Team defense gets better as the season progresses. While Drew will certainly help, not having him isn’t the only reason for the Lakers defensive woes. Also, you have to take into consideration that Houston and Phoenix are going to be two of the most offensively efficient teams in the NBA. There isn’t too much to be read into what they have (or have not) been able to accomplish thus far.

  26. LO again, I am sooo happy at this start, for our World Champion Los Angeles Lakers.

  27. David St. Hubbins October 31, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    @ Charles – I agree…I thought we would use Fisher/Blake on Monta, not Ron Ron. I also agree about fouling Biedrins :). BTW, is Biedrins less orange than last year (maybe it’s just my TV)?

  28. Phillip: True. Maybe I sounded a bit too negative too, but you tend to nit-pick with a team this good;)

  29. @Darius
    I don’t have Fox Sports, that’s why the League Pass issue is a problem… the game should be on there.

    I figured it out though. I checked the upstairs receiver, and it showed the game, so after resetting the one connected to the big TV, I can now see the game in 62-inch format.

    Off to a good start so far… Fisher solid as always from the free throw line.

  30. You have to love how active Lamar Odom is on the boards, not just tonight, but in all three games thus far.

  31. @Phillip
    My husband just commented that Lamar is probably still sharp from playing with Team USA over the summer. If that’s the reason I vote we make sure Lamar goes on the national team every chance he gets.

    Lamar is playing great, and I love the energy level from him so far. Kobe’s shot still not quite what it used to be, but it will come. LOVE the hustle and energy from the whole team right now.

  32. Could it be the marriage that is helping LO be a bit more consistent, or is it all the FIBA experience?

    I am not yet placing any hope on LO because he’s LO, but just thinking about him having turned a corner makes me giddy.

    Healthy Bynum, health Bryant, back from vacation Gasol AND a consistent Odom?

    Who needs a big 3 when you can have a big 4?

  33. Lakers just playing volleyball on the offensive glass.

  34. Lakers doing a good job on the boards so far, very active going after the rebounds

  35. LO the MAN, everything is working tonight for him.

  36. if we get this Lamar everyday, Hey Now!

  37. If you have children at home, avert their eyes. This is abuse in its purest form.

    Lamar’s quarter is among the sickest things I’ve seen in a while.

  38. LO with 11, 7 & 4 after one. There were times in the past that we wanted that for a game (and were sometimes lucky to get it over 2 games!).

    Match-fit, summer balling Lamar is nice to have at the start of the season for sure.

  39. Odom is a beast on the boards

  40. PJ wanted PG to step up while KB was recovering; maybe LO took offense and wants to show that he’s game too?

    Still, a bit worried about him exhausting himself… season is long, and he needs to be this good come playoffs…

  41. I like how Kobe looks tonight. Pau doesn’t look great but LO is just dominating so far this year, doing all the little things in addition to being a rebounding machine.

  42. Now lets see if the Bench can maintain this lead.

  43. holy crap, Paul Millsap went off for 30 and 16 against OKC.

    And don’t you worry Darius, Tyler Bro Hands will single-handedly win the rebounds category for me.

  44. After the end of the first quarter, the Lakers have an Offensive Efficiency Rating of 154.54. You can give much of the credit to LO and the Lakers commitment on the glass.

  45. good quarter to pad rebounding stats…

  46. Don’t like this unit we have out there. Good to see Ebanks get a little burn, but we’re going to have issues generating halfcourt offense with the Blake/Barnes/Ebanks/Ratliff/Brown unit.

  47. Not sure if I’m a fan of the no starters line-up.

  48. This group is not going to work offensively. If I recall correctly it struggled to score in the preseason as well. Blake is the only guy out there who can create offense.

  49. don’t like this lineup either but I do like how Phil lets them keep playing so they can try to figure things out

  50. Lakers need to bring in Caracter and run the offense through him.

  51. Phil’s letting this zero-starter unit burn the lead… I guess that having the big lead gives this opportunity at this early stage of the season.

  52. Interesting how it’s GS that keeps calling time out, when it is us that is employing Plan B. (push push).

    Might as well give Sasha some burn too, if we can afford it…

  53. phil obviously not stressing about this game

  54. Nice fast break. Gasol dunk

  55. David St. Hubbins October 31, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    Funny what happens when you put the starters back in.

  56. @55
    That might be why Phil wasn’t stressing over it

  57. Is it to late to pick up Fisher on one of my Fantasy League teams?

  58. @sT
    And then bench him until the playoffs start. 🙂

  59. its just phil experimenting and providing in game training. it’s early. better now than later.

  60. @sT, @Mimsy

    So it’s a bit too EARLY to pick up Fisher 😉

  61. Lamar Odom is locked in tonight.

    If he plays this way even half the season the Lakers win 60+ easy.

  62. Nice awareness by Kobe to get Gasol the ball for the easy layup

  63. FSW on Lakers Live, Rick Fox broke the season into 4 twenty game sections in a discussion, Phil Jackson and how he coaches.

    The 1st 20 games are for settling on a rotation and finding out who plays better with who.

    The 2nd 20 games are for separating yourself from others in your conference.

    The 3rd 20 games is to rest the vets who will be needed in the playoffs.

    The final 20 games are to intensify practice and get yourself into a winning momentum for the playoffs.

    Two games are throwaways that you can’t explain any other way.

  64. David St. Hubbins October 31, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Sasha is in…I guess our new strategy will be to try to annoy Monta

  65. Lo with a double double before the half.

    Who took LO in my fantasy league… argh 🙁

  66. Darius and I were discussing that “no-starters” group Phil had on the floor and agreed on this:

    -That unit looked bad because all five guys played on a different team last year. Not one of those guys ran this offense. It’s tough to run without at leas one guy who’s comfortable in the system leading things.

    – If Bynum was available, either Gasol or LO would have been rested enough to be on the floor with those guys. Another repercussion of not having the big fella.

    – The Lakers were (and still are) playing really well. If the game had been closer, PJax wouldn’t have had that lineup out there. It gives the starters some extra rest considering they played Friday night on the road.

  67. I am a little tape delayed because of trick-or-treaters, but to be fair, the non-starter team also missed a couple of open looks. And definitely having Andrew back changes the big man rotation letting them each get some rest while the other two are on the floor.

  68. So the only guy who isn’t hurt but hasn’t seen any floor time is DC.

    Did he somehow get into Phil’s doghouse already?

    Nice to see the starters reestablish dominance with minimal fuss though. Our frontcourt has been huge in every sense so far, especially LO.

  69. @Charles
    I don’t think it has to do with Caracter’s Character or him being in the doghouse as much as it is about just him being not ready to play.

    PJ remarked that he had no intention of using DC when he did use him a game back when our bigs were in foul trouble… besides, that really didn’t go too well, so I’m guessing he’s going to serve the AMMo role for a while..

  70. Lin gets welcomed by Pau…

    … and says hi to Kobe…

    … gets another welcome by Lamar…

    … and fouls Ron.

    Wow, he’s getting to know our team 😉

  71. Having fun with the edit function, Harold? 🙂

  72. The Lakers have gotten comfortable with this big lead and sloppiness has ensued. It’d be nice to see them calm down, run the offense, and push this lead back to over 20. That way the starters can get some rest in the 4th quarter.

  73. Weren’t there a few Dorell Wright fans on here during the offseason?

    He’s making you look good so far this year…

  74. Well, there’s that 20 point lead. It’d be nice to see Pau sit for the remainder of the game, but with almost 10mins on the clock, I don’t know if Phil will do that. I would certainly like to see Kobe stay on his current 26 minutes too. An efficient game.

  75. Quite a difference when Pau stayed out there with the second unit;)

  76. This team is just beautiful to watch, can’t wait to see this team develop next year, when they at least know 70% of the offense already.

    Right now, these are veterans who just know how to play and when you this kind of a group, you tend not to see what’s wrong.

    Just beautiful. I ain’t expecting 70 wins from this team, doesn’t matter to me (although HCA does), but if it happens, it will not be surprising.

  77. Ron isn’t having the best of games, but his hands have to be among the best the league’s ever seen. He just rips the ball out of the hands of people – time and time again. It’s uncanny=)

  78. @VoR
    Usually edit screws up when I use chrome, but today it seems to be working rather well 😉

    This game is sooooo over, now that DC finally entered the fray.

    Wonder if anyone on our team is going to hit 5 assists and be the leader for the night.

  79. I will have to remember not to start David Lee when GS plays the Lakers in the future, he was shut down and out, and we did not even have one of our 7 footers out on the hardwood floor.

  80. #73. Joel,
    The Dude Abides was hot and heavy on Wright as a potential PG/Ariza replacement. Based off how he’s played tonight, I could see the Ariza comparisons but am happy that Mitch snared Blake to run the point for the 2nd unit. Wright does look good though. Definitely shown a more expanded game than what he displayed in Miami.

  81. When will Ron-Ron auction his hands?

    This step/walk-through move by Kobe has been over-used this season. Seems like many NBA players watched his vid!

  82. As a non-LA resident, can someone fill me in on whether tacos are still happening this season, or has the promotion been changed?

  83. So do we still have a Taco Unit this year, or is that a bye-gone era?

  84. I think “Tacos” is gone. They’ll give fans “moustache” in honor of Ammo.

  85. Now if Ratliff could come out and score, we’d have just about everyone score…

  86. I don’t mean any disrespect to GS, but this is the kind of team the Lakers always had to work too hard against last year. It’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers do on the road against some of the weaker teams. Can they play with this kind of efficiency every night?

    I am also really fascinated by how Kobe handles not being needed like he was last year. Right now, they just need him to be good, not great (playoffs they will need him to be great again). Will he be able to let someone else be the leading scorer on a lot of nights?

  87. Good win with solid play again from the second unit once Gasol was out there with them to orchestrate.

    Both our rookies looked like rookies, but it’s to be expected. I like the point that when Andrew is back healthy we’ll be able to keep one of our bigs out with the second unit at all times to provide an interior presence to dump the ball into to initiate the offense.

  88. I guess y’all noticed that The Bench smacked eerily (it is Hallowe’en!) of the Taco Unit tonight, as they Blew half of that nice first quarter, twenty-point lead.

    I don’t think it’d Be Best to get too fancy with the nicknames just yet…

  89. tsuwm, the reason is Phil put 1 rook and 3 new comers and 1 shannon brown. Phil saw that coming. When they play with at least one starter, they blend perfectly with each other (see: 4 quarter). The bench would be bombing when Bynum gets back.

  90. >1 rook and 3 new comers and 1 shannon brown.

    exactly my point.

  91. The bench played awfully when Theo Ratliff was in the game. They played wonderfully when Pau Gasol was in the game. Like most things, it was lack of offensive execution which led to easy scores on the other end. Having Pau in the middle to run the offense slowed down the game and prevented the runouts that Golden State was continually getting in the 2nd quarter. When Bynum comes back and we get the return of GOB, our second unit will be solidified.

  92. Odom is a bench player, too. Just starting in the stead of Big Drew. So, throw in Lamar into the bench, and all our sorrows regarding nicknames will be gone.

  93. I liked the balanced scoring, the low minutes and that the Lakers are under the radar with not much pressure on them right now (thank you Miami).

    Not a lot more to take away from the game. We won’t know much more until they start playing some top tier teams, but I’ll take the good start after an erratic preseason.

  94. and, once again, the Ls got outscored in the paint!!

    refrain: hurry back Drew.

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