Preview and Chat: The Golden State Warriors

Darius Soriano —  November 21, 2010

Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Records: Lakers 11-2 (3rd in West), Warriors 7-5 (7th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 116.9 (1st in NBA), Warriors 106.5 (17th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 106.5 (12th in NBA), Warriors 108.4 (20th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, Vladimir Radmanovic, Andris Biedrins
Injuries: Lakers: Andrew Bynum (out), Theo Ratliff (out); Warriors: David Lee (out), Brandan Wright (doubtful), Lou Admundson (out), Ekpe Udoh (out)

The Lakers Coming in:  Nothing like a three game roadie against teams with bad records to cure what ails a team.  The Lakers left for the mid-west on a two game losing streak and return winners of three in a row.  On the trip they continued to show that their offense is in fact the league’s best while also playing some pretty good defense in two of the three games to raise their efficiency on that side of the ball to a more respectable 12th in the league.  Still not where we’d like, but inching in the right direction.

And since there’s really nothing new to report on this team from the perspective of Bynum’s return or other newsworthy events, go read Dan Devine’s take on Charles Barkley’s comments about Kobe being a top five player all time.  And then watch the video below of Blake Griffin dunking on the Knicks. Repeatedly.  These should hold you over until tip off tonight.

The Warriors Coming in:  If I were to tell you that tonight the Lakers played the team in 2nd place in the Pacific Division with a 7-5 record and currently sits in the 7th spot in the West it’s doubtful the first team you’d think of is the Warriors.  The Suns maybe.  But the Warriors?  That is the case, though.  This team is definitely on the upswing.  They’re playing with a renewed sense of pride and I would think a lot of that has to do with the ownership change that was just finalized by the league.  In their past few games they’ve struggled (losing 3 of 4) but a lot of that has had to do with the injury to David Lee who has had to sit out the last 4 games with an infected elbow.  If you’re not familiar with the story, Lee was facing his old team (the Knicks) and after securing a defensive rebound he swung his elbows to clear some space and connected with Wilson Chandler’s mouth.  Lee knocked out one of Chandler’s teeth, but in the process sustained a puncture wound to his arm that became infected and required Lee to be hospitalized.  Lee was just released this week and will not likely return for at least another week.  So while Lee sits, the Warriors sputter on the glass and lose their only inside scoring punch, and thus the losses have started to pile up.

But even in defeat, not all is bad for the Dubs.  The one player that’s really playing excellent basketball is Monta Ellis.  Just last season he was thought of as disposable as his inefficient gunning seemed to have a stranglehold on the team.  This year, though, he’s just a different guy.  He’s become a leader for the team.  His scoring is not only up but he’s doing it efficiently.  I’ll let Ethan Sherwood Strauss at Warriors World take it from here:

Some players are described as scoring easily. I’ve often heard it like this: “You think he’s not doing much, then you look up and he’s got 30 points.” Monta Ellis is the opposite: He scores difficultly, to thrilling amplification. Monta’s twisting layups and off-balance jumpers tend to leave you feeling like he scored 10 more points than he did. The stat sheet reads, “40,” my memory whispers, “50.”

And Monta’s dunk. That’s what it’s like to be transported, to completely fly away from whatever problems, issues, or entanglements haunt your life. The straining stuff just doesn’t exist when Ellis crushes Turiaf like a Venus Flytrap. All that matters is the unbridled joy of seeing it live.

Warriors Blogs: Check out Warriors World for any and all information on the Dubs.  Also visit Golden State of Mind for more on the Warriors.

Keys to game:  The Last time these two teams met it was also a Sunday night contest in Los Angeles.  On that (Halloween) night the Lakers struck early and often and ultimately cruised to a 24 point victory.  The Lakers used their size to dominate the interior by both scoring in the paint at will and by gobbling up offensive rebounds.  Tonight, they’ll be looking to do the same thing and it may be even easier considering the Warriors’ injury issues.  I’ve already mentioned that David Lee will be out for the Warriors and Brandan Wright will also likely be out with back issues.  That greatly depletes an already thin Warriors’ front court and should allow the Lakers to feast in the paint once again.

So, hopefully we’ll see the Lakers go into their bigs early and often with post ups to Pau and Odom to get the offense going.  When those early post ups aren’t there, the Lakers can then try Kobe in the post against either Ellis or Curry as neither undersized guard has the size to battle #24 on the block.  However, where Kobe needs to be careful – especially against Ellis – is by trying to back him down from too far out on the court.  In recent match ups between these two teams, Ellis has done a good job of poking the ball away from Kobe when he’s dribbling into his post position.  And considering Kobe’s turnover totals this season (20 in his last 5 games), he’ll need to be extra careful against Monta’s quick hands.

Defensively, controlling the Warriors in transition and off the dribble will be the Lakers biggest challenges.  Both Ellis and Curry are excellent in space and love to get the ball up the court quickly to attack defenses before they get set.  The Lakers can battle against this through their own offensive approach (going into the post, avoiding long jumpers early in the clock) and by attacking the offensive glass, but ultimately the Lakers will still have to be aware of the Warrior’s want to push the ball and get back in transition to avoid early offense from the Dubs.  Especially important will be the Lakers’ big men who will have to change ends quickly in order to discourage drives by obstructing driving lanes in early offense and showing early help when the Lakers guards get beat off the dribble (which will happen).

The Lakers’ pick and roll defense will also be severely tested tonight.  Both Ellis and Curry are fantastic operating in the P&R  as they’re both able to shoot from distance when defenders go under the screen and can explode off the dribble to the rim when defenders chase over the top.  They’re both also adept at splitting the double team when the big man hedges so there’s really no safe way to defend this action without Ellis and/or Curry having a potential answer for the initial defensive strategy.  The Lakers will have to show good discipline on this play by hedging/recovering, rotating to shooters if the pass is made to the wing, while also having a third line of help waiting at the rim should the Warriors’ guards split the pick and get into the paint.  There’s really no other team in the league that has multiple guards that can do as much in the P&R as the Warriors so the Lakers will need to be ready.

In the end, this game should go much like the Halloween game did.  The Lakers are clearly the superior team and are once again rolling on offense with an improving defense over the past few games.  However, this is the first game back from a road trip (which is always a game that’s tricky) and the Lakers could look at the Dub’s injury ledger and think this game will be a walk.  So, besides battling the Warriors’ guards, their overall shooting prowess, and their speed in the open court, they’ll also need to battle complacency.  I doubt it will be too much of a problem after what the team showed in Detroit and Minnesota, but with this Lakers’ group you won’t really know until the ball tips.

Where you can watch: 6:30pm start time on Fox Sports West.  Also listen on ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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45 responses to Preview and Chat: The Golden State Warriors

  1. This one is for Warren!

  2. That Griffin kid is incredible. He’s as fun to watch as King Crab was when he first entered the league. A 4 that has the mobility of an uber-athletic 3. I hope the Clips trade him somewhere (anywhere) so that he can have a great career instead of playing on a cursed franchise.

  3. I feel sorry for Blake Griffin. The Clippers are awful and, as long as Sterling owns them, will never amount to anything. Poor kid. I know the money he’s getting is nice, but I hope playing for a pathetic team like this does not kill his competitive nature.

  4. @2, 3 – Just one more illustration of the organization’s dysfunction was their choice of coaches. VDN got the Clipper job because of his slick presentation, just the type that Sterling falls for. The other top candidate was Dwane Casey, who’s been widely recognized in GM circles the past few years as one of the best assistant coaches in the NBA. And yet VDN beat him out for the top job for both the Bulls and now the Clippers, without even any experience as an assistant prior to the Chicago job. It’s clear that he’s overmatched at this point, but you have to wonder if he’ll be kept on as coach, knowing that Sterling hates to pay more than one coach at once, no matter how toxic the situation is.

  5. Well… we all know how messed up the Clips situation is perennially… doesn’t matter who the coach is to some extent and the talent level on the floor is always better than the results. It all comes from the top and Sterling isn’t going anywhere. But, right now, Griffin seems to be focused on one thing only and that’s playing out of his mind. It’s great to watch and we’ll just have to enjoy it while it lasts.

  6. Getting any W is the most the important thing by any margin but with 2 big and very tough games coming up next week (Bulls & @Jazz) I’d like to see the dominating game that results in a restful 4th qtr for Pau & Kobe.

    The preview pretty much says it all. Get it into the bigs and we win. I’ll be looking to if our defense shows up tonight and as everyone has noted its not where it was last year.

    Additionally if we do get some garbage time I’d like see Walton start look decent.

  7. @6. Yep. Go inside out and we win this game. Very simple. As for Luke, I’d settle for him merely looking bad tonight. Baby steps.

    Edit – the Warriors play fast-paced ball, which isn’t the type of game that Luke thrives in. I would hope that we don’t see him until garbage time.

  8. Off-topic, but I’m hoping the luck I’m enduring in the fantasy league will keep bad luck off the Lakers.

    In addition to Yao, Roy, Brooks and Wade, now Haslem goes down. Half my roster is gutted, and wow, I am glad that I don’t have any Lakers on my team.

  9. Is it bad that my hopes of getting a 7-2 week in both my fantasy leagues rides on the 3 point shooting and steals of Derek Fisher?

  10. LO should be up for a 15-15 against the space cadet tonight… By the 3rd qtr.

  11. Zephid: Actually not that bad. Despite the strong starts from Pau and Lamar – I have to say that Fish has surprised me the most. In fact, I almost have him as the most improved player in the league this year. The difference from last year’s regular season is amazing. (He did have a strong post-season however, but that’s to be expected with Fish;))

  12. any links for the game?

  13. boy do the warriors suck at D

  14. Nice start.

  15. Did we really make the Finals with Vladimir Radmanovic as a starter? Good grief.

  16. James: Well, when your whole team is like 5 feet tall, it’s tough to defend against 7-footers:D

  17. Anyone got a link?

  18. Go to p2p4u.net

  19. DC is absolutely manhandling any Warrior in his way when the ball goes up.

  20. Lamar is getting too much attention when he posts up. I don’t think he has a lot of scoring ability from the post, but when they help on him he’s great at finding open guys.

  21. Great half for the Lakers 20 dimes out of 29 made baskets

  22. Pau’s working on a Matt Barnes line I see!

  23. Gasol is ruining my team! He has tied Curry’s blocks, so now I’m 5-1-2 instead of 6-2-1… argh.

    Now I’m hoping we blow them out so thoroughly that Gasol doesn’t play another minute while Curry gets some stats against our bench.

    Never mind, Lin replaced curry. argh :p

  24. So Gasol is currently 9-9 from the floor, 6-6 from the line, with 6 boards and 5 assists. Not to jinx things, but Matt Barnes did that for the third time in the last 30 years last game, and if Gasol gets pulled soon enough, he’ll be the fourth.

    This team is really good.

  25. Anyone have another link?

  26. Ok, please sit Gasol. And I’m not saying this because he is currently matched up against my fantasy team.

    10-10, 6-6, 5 assists, 8 boards, 3 blocks… will he get 10 boards?

  27. I hope Gasol ends the night perfect from the field. If this happens, I’ll be absolutely giddy that 4 players will have gone 20+-5-5 in the last 25 years and two of them would have been Lakers in consecutive games!

  28. Definitely time to pull Gasol. No need for him in the 4th. Against GSW we can run Ron or Barnes at the 4, LO at the 5.

    Would love to see him finish with this line. Those 4 blocks are icing on the cake!

  29. Ok, so these Warriors may not be all that – but man, are the Lakers ever a pleasure to watch? Sort of reminds me of watching Barcelona play soccer. Many nights – since the end result is never in question – it’s just about the beauty of the game. For instance, Barcelona’s last game versus Almeria (8-0), and the Lakers game tonight versus the Warrios.

  30. Give Pau the rebound you cheap b*stards!

    :D

  31. Andreas, so Kobe is Messi, Gasol is Villa, Fisher is Puyol, Odom is Iniesta, agree?

  32. James: Nice comparisons – now if the Barca-players would only grow about 2-3 feet each..
    (Actually, Fish only has 3 inches on Puyol, but the rest of those Barca-guys are 5’6-5’7 on a good day:D)

  33. Man this team is NASTY this season.

  34. Has Kobe already left? Can’t see him on the bench there.

  35. Ah, there he is. I thought he might have a helicopter to catch…

  36. if the lakers are barca then the heat are the madrid galacticos. just a bunch of superstars with poor team chemistry/makeup

  37. Laker Globetrotters getting it done nicely.

    Why is Bynum on the All Star ballot? Give it to ShaNWOW instead.

    For games like this, the fans should get free nachos to go with the free tacos. Cause they only got 3 quarters of entertainment for their money.

    There are two teams in the west with better records than the Lakers. Holy cow. And the poor Spurs still wouldn’t be getting any attention if it weren’t for Mr. Longoria!

  38. That triple for Sasha brings a smile to my face.

  39. Is it too early to say Shannon brown for 6th man of the year? I think not :)

  40. The whole 6th man of the year ballot should come from the Lakers bench – Odom, Shannon, Barnes, Blake

  41. Which team makes history two days in a row with two different players not named Kobe? THIS team:) what a great win through and through, although a downside is that Sasha Vujacic seems to have lost all ability to play basketball… bless his heart. Our bench is just simmering right now and Lamar is coming back down, which is just ridiculous to think about. Its very nice to see this much chemistry on the court and the evolutionof individual champions who can do WORK on any given night.

  42. Now for funsies…

    Kobe during the Shaq-Kobe era

    vs.

    Gasol during the Kobe-Gasol era.

    which one do you think is more valuable?

    Nights like this, I’m leaning towards the second…