Preview and Chat: The Golden State Warriors

Darius Soriano —  January 12, 2011

Records: Lakers 28-11 (3rd in West), Warriors 15-22 (12th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.8 (1st in NBA), Warriors 106.5 (16th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.5 (9th in NBA), Warriors 110.9 (26th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers:Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, David Lee, Andris Biedrins
Injuries: Lakers: Matt Barnes & Theo Ratliff (out), Warriors: Brandan Wright (out)

One Last Note On Last Night:   The Cavs game was memorable for a variety of reasons and I know that I’ll look back on that game for a while as one that was glorious (watching the Lakersdominate) while also being a bit of a downer (watching a team get so thoroughly undressed is kindof sad).  However, the one thing I was interested in seeing in the aftermath of the game was how the Lakers efficiency statistics would be affected by such a dominant performance.  Well, after checking Basketball-Reference this morning I got my answer.  The Lakers offensive efficiency improved by .4 points and moved them from 2nd to 1st in the league in points per 100 possessions (passing the Spurs).  On defense, though, the improvement was much bigger as the Lakers shaved an entire point off their efficiency mark and moved up from 11th to 9th in the NBA.  I’m no expert, but that seems like a huge jump based off one game’s work.  I guess holding the opposition to an offensive rating of 64(!) will do that for a team.

And while it may be too early to say that the Lakers’ new plan on defense (where they’re putting a greater emphasis on chasing shooters off the 3 point line and into the help of Bynum and Gasol) is a smashing success, I think it’s fair to say that it’s worked the last two games against the Knicks and the Cavs.  On that note, commenter The Dude Abides (who’s been especially on point in the comments of late) made a great observation about the Lakers new defense:

I think this Laker team is energized by the new defense installed by Chuck Person and Phil. It gives them something to work on and prevents boredom.

I agree wholeheartedly with this as the implementation of this “new” scheme has seemed to brought back a focus and energy on defense that had been lacking this year.  Let’s hope that it continues because we all know that this team’s ability to defend will greatly contribute to their success.

The Warriors Coming in:  The Dubs have only won 2 of their last 5 games, but when you look at their schedule that’s an understandable number of victories.  In that span they’ve faced off against the Clippers, Cavs, Hornets, Heat, and Magic (beating the Hornets and Cavs).  Facing off against the Lakers tonight means that this may be one of the more difficult 6 game stretches any team will face in their schedule (even with the Cavs thrown in).

It’s tough to put a real handle on this Warriors team.  During the off-season they gave up some of their depth to acquire David Lee, fired Don Nelson, and were supposed to commit themselves to more discipline on both sides of the ball under new coach Keith Smart.  The results have been the same old Warriors only without the high-powered offense and the postgame beers with the head coach.  The team still relies heavily on its dynamic guard combo of Ellis and Curry to create offense (they combine for nearly 44 points and 11 assists a game) but that’s at least somewhat necessitated by the fact that David Lee’s numbers are down across the board from his last season in New York (15 and 10 this year compared to 20 and 12 last year).  Dorell Wright has been a pleasant surprise as a playmaker and all-around talent on the wing, but overall this team still doesn’t do the little things well enough to win at a rate that equates with playoff-level basketball.  Ultimately, the high that was experienced after the new owners took over is now supplemented by the hard reality that what they have isn’t good enough to compete. Tweaking and some rebuilding is needed in the coming seasons.

Warriors BlogsWarriors World always does a very good job of breaking down the team from Oakland.  Golden State of Mind also keeps you looked in with all things Warriors related.

Keys to game: Tell me if you’ve heard this before: the Lakers have an advantage inside and should take advantage of it.  The Warriors start the defensively challenged Lee at PF and Biedrins (who lacks the ballast to anchor in the post) at C.  The offense should revolve around getting Gasol and Bynum post touches against these two to not only get baskets for themselves but to open things up for their teammates.  If there’s been one offensive trend over the past few games it’s been the stellar play of LA’s big men, as they’ve tag teamed opponents with their array of post moves and passing ability (both to each other and to their perimeter mates).

Kobe can also get involved in the post-up action as either Ellis or Curry will be tasked with slowing him down.  Expect to see Kobe go into back-down mode when he brings the ball up in semi-transition with him looking to shoot over the top of these smaller defenders.  Also on the wing, I hope to see Ron Artest continue his subtle (yet noticeable) improvement on offense.  Last night Ron made 6 of his 11 FGs (including 3 of 5 from deep) for 15 points.  I’d love to see him continue to build on that success with the solid decision making and lack of hesitation that he’s shown in the past couple of weeks.

Defensively, the Warriors want to push the tempo (they play at the 4th fastest pace in the league) to try and counter their lack of size.  Look for them to run on every offensive possession to either beat the Lakers down the floor completely or get them in semi-transition, where quick hitting P&R’s can be run against a defense that isn’t completely set.  The Lakers will need to understand the Warriors strategy and do what’s needed to counter it.  Look for the Lakers to try and crash the offensive boards hard (keeping more Warriors occupied instead of leaking out) and also show good floor spacing and balance to enable good transition defense.  But besides these techniques, the Lakers will just need to run back hard and track the Warriors shooters that like to run to the three point line, while also defending the paint and building a wall against Ellis as he tends to attack the rim in these situations.

In the half court, the Lakers must be truly focused in their P&R defense.  Both Ellis and Curry are terrors in this set, with their ability to shoot the ball when defenders go under screens, and attack the rim when they trail it.  Monta Ellis is especially dangerous because his quickness off the dribble is nearly unmatched in the entire league.  Plus his ability to finish in the paint and/or draw fouls means that over-aggressive attempts to block his shot will put him at the line and the big man attempting it on the bench.  Seriously, there are few guards as dynamic as Ellis and when he has it going he can pour in 40+ points while barely breaking a sweat.  Kobe, Artest, and Brown will have their hands full in dealing with him.

This game is no gimme and the Lakers will be physically tested on the second night of a back to back.  Luckily, last night allowed for a lot of rest for the Lakers’ key rotation players, but even that rest won’t be the only ingredient to sticking with the Warriors tonight.  The Lakers will need to impose their style of play on the Dubs to turn the game into more of a half court affair where the size of Bynum, Gasol, and Odom can make its biggest impact.  If LA is able to slow the pace enough, the Warriors won’t be able to take the pounding, and like a power running game in the NFL, you’ll see defenders start to voluntarily cede the territory in the paint to the stronger team.  A win tonight means 6 in a row so let’s hope the Lakers continue with their improved focus to get to that mark.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on KCAL.  Also listen on ESPN Radio 710am

Darius Soriano

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73 responses to Preview and Chat: The Golden State Warriors

  1. Beatdown redux, Radman style? For Warren.

  2. Check this out– Lebron sees the Cavs being humiliated as some kind of divine (!) retribution for the team treating him badly.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/LeBron-James-finds-happiness-in-the-Cavs-misfor?urn=nba-306395

    Can’t make this stuff up.

  3. Lebron plays on a team in the Eastern Division. How about we put a hold on ‘Lebron’ discussions of any kind on this site??? At least on the Preview Game threads!

    Enough is enough and I simply want to concentrate on our team and every other team in the league except the Heat.

  4. I will be in the house tonight. The wife got me a very nice seat for X-mas.

    I think Dorrell Wright is the x-factor for this team. He has had a couple of break out games that have led to W’s wins this year.

  5. Like Gatinho, I’ll be at the game tonight as well. I’ll try to bring back some insight from the game to discuss later and tomorrow (I actually got credentialed for the game through the Warriors so I may get some behind the scenes nuggets that I otherwise wouldn’t get when I attend the games.)

    That also means that the recap won’t be up until the morning. Just wanted to give an FYI on that.

  6. i’d like to see pau, drew, and ron assert themselves in tonight’s game, because our opponents can’t match-up with them in the post.

    from a strategic point-of-view, it’s a no-brainer. personally, i think it’s just as important for our starting frontline to build confidence in themselves, so that in subsequent matchups they’ll take initiative and execute instead of deferring to kobe.

  7. Man, I’m going to be driving by the arena tonight at gametime. I looked into tickets, but they were insane. I wonder if I should hit up a scalper….

  8. How is it that the Lakers can blow out a team in an almost historical fashion and the only link on espn/nba’s front page refers to Lebron James and his (asinine)comments.

    I don’t know what’s more sick: LeBron statements and him stealing the spotlight when it belonged to LAL and CLE or the fact that ESPN ran with it.

  9. I realized today how well FB&G goes with breakfast. And lunch. And pre dinner, post lunch, pick me up apple snacks. Huzzah for back to back Lakers games for generating triple posts to give me plenty of reading while stuffing my face. Feeding my blhunger and sports cravings at the same time is awesome.

    Darius don’t forget about my side note if things happen to turn out like yesterday, although I doubt things will align like that again for a long time. :) I expect a much better game tonight, and the Warrior’s may still pull out a win if the Lakers take their accomplishments from last night without a grain of salt and get too complacent.

    Enjoy the game.

  10. The Lakers know how to beat these guys. Feed the post all night long. I would love to see more of those nifty high/low bounce passes between Bynum and Gasol. Anyone remember there was a time when people questioned if those two could be on the floor together? Look at them now. It reminds me that this team still has another level it can get to.

    The Lakers have to take care of business with a team like the Warriors. Because the Mavs, Jazz, and Spurs are right around the corner.

  11. I’m in full agreement with Craig. Let others rave and rant and focus entirely on LeBron, and let us focus on what matters.

  12. So, it’s about 2 hours before game time and saw David Lee working on the left block a lot on his jump hook going over both shoulders. Looked smooth, though obviously much better going over his right shoulder and shooting his natural lefty hook. Also, the coach that was working with him was trying to force him to his right hand and while he showed a good first step he still didn’t have a natural go to finish move. Most of the time he shot a righty hook but I didn’t see him make one in the 4 or 5 I saw him take.

    I’ll try to have more updates through the night…

  13. LeBron needed to come west, to restore some semblance of parity in coverage by the media.

    Anyway, after a high comes a low… hoping that yesterday wasn’t really a high.

  14. The Mavs look to be on their way to losing again, which means we will be ahead of them by percentage points. The Spurs are down by 8 at the half against the Bucks. So looks like we have a chance to gain some ground if we win. Of course that Spurs game is far from over. The Spurs always seem to have one huge quarter where they crush a team badly. The Magic-Hornets game is also close, they are long overdue for a loss.

  15. Any links available yet? Got the league pass but game blacked out because its local, at least 87 miles from Oakland worth.

  16. Like the last peon in the bureaucratic ladder, the task of writing tonight’s recap has fallen to me. HOWEVER, since I’m in a totally sharing mood, I figured I would copy a move from Kurt’s repertoire and let you guys do the work for me.

    So, if you want to be featured in the recap, write something sweet and recap-esque in the comments, and I’ll choose the ones which are the most insightful, witty, or downright hilarious.

    And remember, if you don’t do this, you’ll be punished by getting a recap written entirely by me at 1:30am, which is something you do not want.

  17. David Lee’s numbers have been down mostly due to the elbow injury he suffered earlier in the season. Wilson Chandler basically werewolving David Lee’s elbow. It looks absolutely ghastly. It’s limited his ability significantly.

    What I am hoping to see the most, is a strong defensive performance and for Ron and Drew to keep on building on their solid play as of late. The season is a grind and you have to improve on each performance.

  18. The Mavs continue to fall back towards the Lakers in the loss column and San Antonio isn’t look quite as unbeatable as earlier in the year. I think we will end up with either the best record in the West or second best.

    Not having homecourt against the Spurs is not nearly as daunting to me as not having it against Miami or Boston. As long as we can keep pace with those two teams, I think we will be all right. I gotta admit that Miami scares me in a series though. I keep having visions of D-Wade averaging 20+ free throws against us like he did against the Mavs. And you know that Lebron will get his trips to the line too. Can you imagine those two getting 40 trips to the line a game?

  19. kobe dosent have many bad habits butt jumping to pass is defo his worst

  20. I agree, Miami scares me more than any others teams. I think people underestimate a team that has 3 superstars that start on it. It is scary.

  21. Ellis is on track to score more than the entire Cavs team did last night. Ugh.

  22. Not too much to love about the Lakers tonight, but Pau’s work on the offensive glass definitely cheers me.

  23. how on earth did we get to the nba finals with vlad as in our starting lineup?

  24. It’s funny how the Warriors bait teams into run and gun. It’s like how your friends used to get you to come out and play when you knew you were supposed to be doing homework.

  25. James,
    You got to emember that Vlad was a much different player with Seattle and then his stint with the Clippers. We thought we were getting a guy who would stretch defenses, knock down the open shots, etc… and Kobe and Phil were both really hot to get him. The guy just never got it though and he hasn’t gotten back on track since leaving either. I don’t know that he really has the desire anymore.

  26. Any links? ATDHE down other links slow.

  27. Down by 8 at the half, and the Lakers are not a good come from behind team this season, doesnt look to be our night.

  28. so much for the new defensive scheme… they allow the warriors to score as many as they allowed last night. gotta love this Laker squad…

  29. The Lakers are back down to Earth. I hate to sound like a pessimist, but this season deficits at the half have turned into blowouts. The Lakers offense is terrible, their defense is worse, their bench is on vacation again, and they’re allowing too many open three pointers.

  30. Joel trust me, you will never get consistency from this Lakers squad. This team just does not bring their A game every night. It is frustrating, but what can you do? That is the Lakers for you, unpredictable.

  31. kobe seems strangely disintersted in scoring tonight

  32. I’m confused as to all the pessimism. The Lakers have clawed back into a game where they haven’t played their best, but the Warriors have been doing a lot of things well. If folks are going to measure tonight’s game against last night’s (which was historic for the franchise, btw) I’m not sure if that’s really a logical way to look at the game…

  33. Darius, don’t be too surprised. The fans are every bit as bored and jaded as the Lakers are at this point.

    Things are looking good here in the third. Midway into the period and the Lakers are in the bonus. Let us hope that the big guys get lots of looks, and get some strong finishes with contact.

  34. of all people, artest is leading our team with 6 assists.

  35. It feels like the 3rd will be a Kobe quarter. With a slice of luck, we can cut the TOs, close the gap or take a small lead after 3, then bring it home.

  36. I was just going to say the lakers are working their way back but nevermind. I just can’t understand why this team looks like they’ve never played basketball sometimes.

    And didn’t the lakers sign Blake to defend players like Curry? Fisher has been having a bad game and Blake still can’t get a few extra minutes. Fisher hasn’t made his shots, continues to play “centerfield” and leave knockdown shooters wide open.

  37. The Lakers are being really indecisive and that’s causing a lot of these turnovers. Just not a lot of focus tonight.

  38. For the love of God why do you leave Dorrell Wright at the 3pt line?

  39. i thought our new strategy was to run at 3 point shooters? not tonight

  40. Law of averages at work here. Warriors have lost 11 straight to the Lakers. At some point they were gonna win. No big deal.

  41. Boy, Shannon keeps you on the edge, for better or worse.

  42. Just started watching game, down by 6 to start the 4th is not bad. Went inside first possession to Bynum, good choice.

  43. Looking at the stats, it is the Warriors 3 point shooting that has been the difference in this game. 9-22 to 2-13. Otherwise, we are out rebounding them big time. I want to see how this team plays down the stretch of this game. Will it be all Kobe or will they play a good team game. And can they get the big stop, something they have not done this year in close games

  44. This is a heck of a game. Both teams refuse to cave.

    On a similar note, GS has so many shooters that it makes me sick. Every time they put the ball up, I assume it’s going in.

  45. Finally a 3 drops for Kobe.

  46. Props to the GS broadcast crew. Very tolerable, honest, and fairly insightful.

  47. I don’t even know what more our defense can do. The Warriors are just hitting some tough shots.

  48. Kobe and Ellis are putting on one hell of a shoot out in the 4th. Its been quite entertaining.

  49. Way to piss Kobe off, Monta.

  50. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the Kobe-dependant offense actually work. It kind of makes for a nice change, although I’m not hanging out for us to play this way again…

    It’s been a pretty special 4th with 2 high-scoring guards getting it done. Kobe is just so special to watch when he’s hitting at this kind of rate.

    It has been good to see the TOs cut down.

  51. This is the first time all year I can recall Kobe taking over a late close game and it working, I will take it.

  52. Kobe is straight up cold blooded. I’m so proud.

  53. whew! I think we can chalk this impending W to the great escape archives! Kobe, LO and Pau… gotta love this Laker squad!

  54. Im with you AusPhil glad to see it work, but too much standing around watching for my taste.

  55. Kobe’s Lakers have been bound and determined to beat the Warriors at their own game. High entertainment.

  56. Heh, I thought our new defense had something to do with defending the 3 or something.

    Did Monta and Wright play 48 minutes?! Not sure if i’ve seen TWO players play the whole game before.

  57. This Warriors completely played out of their minds tonight and still lost.

  58. Now, let’s hope that the City of Angels is undefeated tonight.

  59. harold, you would have if you kept up with the Warriors.

    And as a team, we shot 17-17 from the line in the fourth. Absolutely crucial when you’re trying preserve the lead in the face of a three-point onslaught.

  60. And it looks like our crosstown rivals are gonna do us a favor tonight as well!

  61. Do I sense some Karma occurring at Staples? Or am I reaching too much? (And giving that story too much credit?)

  62. Simonoid, I feel guilty since I should (studied at Cal) but I’m just more into the Lakers. Guess it has to do with the fact that I was drawn by Kareem and Magic ;)

    Anyway, Kobe can still hit FTs (11/11!), still score, and Artest can lead our team in assists even if he doesn’t know the triangle ;)

    *if the clips beat the heat, that’d be a treat.

  63. AusPhil, awesome ;)

    “Crazy. Karma is a b****. Gets you every time. It’s not good to gloat. God sees everything”

  64. Haha, I’m with you AusPhil. Karma’s a b****, isn’t it LBJ?

  65. Oh my oh my. Karma is a B****! Isn’t it Lebron! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

  66. This Blake Griffin guy is something else. The real deal! Is he doing the dunk contest? I seriously hope he makes the all-star team

  67. This game made me re-remember how much I hate Radman. If he could have stopped Princess once or twice and hit a few 3′s we would have beat the Greenies in 2008. Bastard is a bastard.

  68. Dear LeBron,

    I own you.

    Best,

    Blake Griffin.

  69. OT: Blake Griffin is the real deal. I know I’m being captain obvious here. But that kid has the “it” factor. It’s not just talent. The little I did catch of the Heat/Clips game was impressive. He was not intimidated and did not back down. I’d love to see Mitch steal Blake from across the hall in a few more years.

    I know it’s a dream, but stranger things have happened.

  70. I believe the year Griffin took off due to injury really helped him. It allowed him to just sit back and observe, taking in all the nuances of the game. Add to the fact that he’s already freakishly athletic, well..

  71. OT (mostly), it seems only right, after all of yesterday’s negatory comments, to point out that LBJ now claims he was just re-tweeting something and didn’t mean anything by it.. at all. [heh.]