Preview and Chat: The Golden State Warriors

Darius Soriano —  April 6, 2011

Records: Lakers 55-22 (2nd in West), Warriors 34-44 (12th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.3 (5th in NBA), Warriors 108.2 (11th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.0 (6th in NBA), Warriors 110.9 (27th 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, Epke Udoh
Injuries: Lakers: Devin Ebanks (out); Warriors: Andris Biedrins & Acie Law (out)

The Lakers Coming in: Losers of two in a row is not something we’ve had to say about this team in some time, but that’s the accurate descriptor after Sunday’s loss to Denver and last night’s loss to Utah. And with those losses, some have started to reach out to me and ask if I’m concerned that the Lakers are now entering that all to familiar malaise they’re so well known for.

To that, I can only say that no, I’m not worried. And the reason being is that the Lakers are still getting the job done on the defensive side of the ball and it’s their offense that is currently the issue. If the team were scoring well but not securing stops, I’d have some concern as picking up the intensity on that side of the ball is usually a bit harder to do and more of a process. But since it’s the offense that is struggling, I think some good old fashioned film study and practice time could do the trick in getting this team back on track. Understand that quietly, the Lakers played their 4 game in 6 nights in facing the Jazz and tonight will be their 5th contest in 7 nights. That type of schedule reduces the chance for the team to actually review what they’re doing wrong, and ultimately leads to sloppy play. Considering we’ve seen a spike in turnovers in the past two games as well as spotty offensive execution overall, I think the Lakers will be just fine once they’re able to sit in a room together and go over their issues.

The Warriors Coming in: The Dubs have won four of six and two in a row against the Blazers and Mavs. In one of their losses over this stretch, they took the Thunder to overtime. What I’m trying to say is, this team has been playing better of late. That said, the overall issues with this team are still right there at the surface – they struggle to defende and rebound consistently and their offense is over reliant on shot making by their guards and wings – but I give them credit for actually pushing towards the finish line when it’d be much easier to simply play out the stretch and make vacation plans.

Two players that I’ve been impressed with of late are Dorell Wright and rookie big man Epke Udoh. Wright (much to the delight of a certain Dude-like commenter at this site), has performed very well as a scorer by showing excellent range on his jumper and a better ability to create off the dribble than originally thought he was capable of. He should be in the running for Most Improved Player and was one of the steals of the off-season. As for Udoh, he’s shown rare defensive instincts for a rookie as his ability to hedge/recover on the P&R and provide a presence as a shot blocker are beyond his experience level. For a team that’s in dire need of a defensive anchor, Udoh’s play has been a welcomed sight. He’s currently playing out of position at Center, but that’s an issue to be solved another day. In the end, the Dubs have found themselves a keeper and that’s a start, at least.

Warriors Blogs: Check out Warriors World for great coverage of this team.

Keys to game: The Warriors are a dangerous offensive team. They push the pace, can get hot from the outside, and have creative guards that show no fear by playing an attack style. If the Lakers want to end their skid, they’ll need to keep up on the defensive side of the ball and slow this team down.

First and foremost, transition D will be a major key tonight. Ellis is one of the fastest guards in the league with the ball in his hands and he has no qualms pushing the pace when outnumbered and simply gliding to the hoop to try and finish. The Lakers will need to build a wall in transition to deny Ellis driving lanes and force him to change directions multiple times to hopefully force him bring the ball back out.

Transition defense doens’t end there, however, as the Warriors are a team that loves to shoot the three against a collapsing D. Curry, Wright, Radman, Reggie Williams, and even Ellis are all threats to bury the long ball when given space so the Lakers will need to mark these players in the open court and run them off the three point line. Once these guys see one shot go down, their confidence will only grow so it’s best to limit their effectiveness early.

Defending the P&R will also be a top priority against the Dubs. Ellis and Curry both present challenges when turning the corner off a screen as both are capable drivers or shooters in this action. The Laker’s philosophy of executing a soft show should encourage more jumpers but the Laker guards will still need to fight over/around screens to recover to their man and contest shots. Ellis can hit the mid-range jumper and Curry is one of the best shooters in the league when given space, so even though this is a shot the Lakers would like to yield the D musn’t allow these guys to get too comfortable taking this shot in rhythm.

Offensively, the plan is simple: pound the ball inside. I mentioned Udoh’s defensive prowess, but he’s still a PF playing Center and will have his hands full with either Gasol or Bynum. Plus, David Lee isn’t known for his defense from the perspective of hustle or instincts. The Lakers should pick on both defenders incessantly to get baskets. When they don’t want to throw the ball to the bigs, post up Kobe and Artest against whichever wing defender picks them up as both of them will also have advantages in the post. This is a game where the Lakers should dominate inside, with the number of threes taken being low (and only taken when the ball rotates against a scrambling D when they are put up).

Lastly and to hammer this point home, the Lakers can’t get caught up trying to play at the Warriors’ pace. As mentioned the this will be the Lakers 5 game in a week and their legs are clearly being affected. Getting into a track meet with these guys will be mistake so I hope to see disciplined offensive possessions where size advantages are exploited with rebounding being emphasized. Remember too the the Warriors have one of the best home crowds in the league and getting into a running match will only get the crowd more involved, further spurring the home team on and a cycle of energy will be formed. The Lakers want to cut that variable out of the equation the best they can and have the Laker fans in attendance (which there will be plenty) doing the cheering.

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

Darius Soriano

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65 responses to Preview and Chat: The Golden State Warriors

  1. Since the Warriors played Portland last night in a tough game, maybe their front line will be as tired as ours are. I agree the 5 games in 7 nights is tough, however, things are not going to improve until the post season. Wed – Fri – Sun – Tue – Wed; now that isn’t exactly a cake walk after our 5 in 7.

  2. I also think Shannon Brown is doing way too much freelancing on offense. He dribbles around for no good reason and then shoots a long jumper that’s probably not going in. I’ve watched him for a while. He almost never makes the pass to the post. I hope his minutes get reduced.

  3. I can’t believe people are actually worried at this point. The Lakers are still 17-3 since the ASG and are firmly in 2nd place in the West and 1 game ahead of Boston/Miami. If you thought before Sunday that the Lakers were just going to win out then you were only fooling yourself.
    Just to clear things up, the Lakers will NOT go 16-1 in the playoffs like in 2001. I would be surprised if they sweep any round for that matter given the depth of the league (except possible NO).
    The Lakers just need to continue their stellar D, rebound well and cut down on turnovers and their offense will come.

  4. I agree that in the West you won’t see too many sweeps.

    Injuries aside, there is a lot of talent in the NBA, and a lot of good coaching. To make the playoffs in the West does take a good team.

    That being said, no one I have seen yet makes me worry about losing four of seven.

  5. On my way to the arena to try and scalp some tickets. Wish me luck!

  6. Snoopy, that article really hung Kurt out to dry. While I much prefer Brian to Kurt – and think that realization by Kurt is why he left in the first place – I think the analysis of his failures in Minnesota doesn’t take into account poor organization backing and drafting behind him and the fact that both he and the GM were pretty green to the type of situation there. Also, he was brought in to run the triangle, then never supported by trades or drafting to reach the best possible team.

    Minnesota is the perfect illustration of why other coaches don’t want to install the triangle. You better have 1) a lot of control, 2) tremendous backing, 3) fantastic self-confidence, and 4) be a very good teacher to try and run this offense. How many coaches like this are there in the NBA? I can only think of two: Rick Adelman and Pops and they have their own systems.

  7. I can’t believe that the lead-in to Sportscenter this morning was: “2nd Consecutive Loss for the Lakers. Are they starting to unravel?”

    Wow. Seriously. The second loss after the best run in recent memory post All-Star Break and people are already “worried” that the team may unravel??? Is this ESPN or TMZ? Geez. So we lost twice and looked flat. Big deal. Can we please wait until the end of the season to make judgments on whether any team has unraveled?

    I hate how in today’s sportsworld everything has to be about perfection and “history.” It seems that today’s sportswriters take the position that no team is meant to win a championship unless they have the best record in the league. I hate the fact that anytime any team in any sport wins a championship, they ask “could this be the best team ever?” The journalistic quality of sportscasting is gone and we are now left with pseudo TMZ-PerezHilton like writers and newscasters who are only after sensationalism and “hot” stories. Its a shame.

    I’m just glad that sites like this are around to keep us focused on reality.

  8. MannyP,
    You have been on this blog too long to take ESPN seriously.

    The last 15 years all – repeat all – news organizations have been about eyeballs and nothing else. Tell me what is more exciting than a disaster? In sports it is the biggest player/team falling on its face.

    Fact or fiction do not matter today – it is only eyeballs that matter. That is why we all better constantly hone our reading AND our searching skills — we all need to read the nuanced discussions to understand what is happening.

  9. We need to slow the game down as much as possible. Just the fact that both of our 7-footers are healthy, is all that I need to be happy now days.

    Go Lakers . . .

  10. thank u milwaukee! i think they are making it possible that we can have home court vs. heat…

    anyway that carlos delfino can become a laker?…lol

  11. If L.A. loses, or doesn’t play like they’re trying to break a losing streak I’ll try to keep my over-reaction to myself. Or maybe riot through oakland. One or the other.

    Realistically, what this team needs is a couple days to rest and practice, as they’ll get at the end of the season.

  12. There’s no way GS is going to keep shooting this poorly. We need to buckle down and take advantage while we can!!

  13. gonna be sloppy again it seems

  14. It’s certainly looking like another sloppy game. The first 6 minutes or so weren’t so bad, but we really haven’t taken advantage of some poor GSW offense.

  15. Bynum has been developing a bad habit the past few weeks in not being mindful of where the defense is after he grabs a rebound.

  16. Dal lost again. Watch out, we may end up with OKC in the 2nd round after all! Yikes.

    (I assume OKC owns the tiebreaker with Dal as they are division winner vs. non-division winner which I believe even trumps head to head. Please correct me if I am mistaken.)

  17. Tyler,
    On the inbounds pass as well. He had 2 stolen against Denver. Kid’s been a beast on the boards though, and that’s all effort!

  18. Phil has a problem.

    When he puts Lamar and Shannon in together the other team is able to speed the game up because both of them want to play faster. Against the running teams, this destroys the Laker game flow.

  19. Oh man, the Lakers 2nd unit can not buy a J, then Shannon misses a layup. Things have to improve, right?

  20. can anyone shoot anymore??

  21. Let’s see, we’re at the 5 minute mark and Phil still hasn’t put the starters back in?

  22. Some common threads from last night and this current effort:

    - Very poor outside shooting.
    - A lot of turnovers.

    Both of these were things that were not issues during the big streak, with TOs in particular being much better. But to have double digit TOs with more than 4 minutes left in the 1st half is not good to see.

    * EDIT – I should clearly criticise outside shooting more often, as they come back and hit their next two 3s in a row…

  23. 17. Lil Pau,

    Maybe Dallas is tanking a few games in order to avoid the Lakers in a potential round 2 matchup. If ever there was a team to do it, one owned by Mark Cuban would be high on the list.

  24. boy was that painful to watch

  25. Come on, Lakers, after Sun and last night, you are really testing my patience….

  26. Losing three straight won’t get it done in the playoffs.

    So, why o why are the Lakers “preparing” for the post season by doing this????

    In other words: arrrrghhhh!!!

  27. There’s no way we can lose 3-in-a-row, the odds are just against it.

  28. Unpleasant to watch that half. Kobe with 0 assists and 1 rebound is not a line that will help the team…

  29. getting extremely annoyed, what is fish doing??

  30. gasol looks absolutely disinterested in rebounding or defense right now….he needs to understand that when drew helps on pau’s man, pau needs to box someone out…..we’re getting killed on the offensive glass because no one but bynum is boxing out….and what is up with fisher jacking up shots?

  31. Trying very hard to see the positive in this… Bynum’s rebounding perhaps? But that was the upside to take out of yesterday’s game, so the well is running a little dry for me.

  32. This game shows Denver’s current weakness. When there is no superstar, your other team members can go into a funk and there is no one to carry the team.

  33. What’s the dealio

  34. It just does not make any sense, the Lakers destroyed and dismantled some very good playoff bound teams since the All-Star break, but have let some injury decimated and young teams beat them in all areas recently. I am keeping hope alive still for this game, though.

  35. How do the Lakers go on a 17-1 tear and play like they have these three recent games? It’s goddamn baffling.

    The Nuggets, okay, different players and they have always been more physical. Utah, sure, they were probably hell bent on revenge.

    The Warriors?

    Please, one of you greater basketball minds, what the hell has changed?

  36. This isn’t just losing, it’s humiliating. No effort on the boards, bad rotations, and zero offensive execution. Just ugly and sad.

  37. We need to score and play defense. I’ll settle for one out of two.

  38. Less than 50% from the FT line thus far. Surely it can’t just be disinterest? Wins are still important for HCA in the Finals (as has been discussed ad nauseum on FB&G), but the team seems to not even be executing simple tasks. The 17-1 run post-ASG showed that this team can be incredibly dominant, but it’s just not what we’re seeing in the last few games.

    Hard for us fans to stomach. We can only hope that the players are as frustrated (and hopefully angry) as we are, and do the requisite work to turn this mini-slump around.

  39. The team doesn’t give a damn right now. Period. And they don’t feel like giving an effort.

    As Hamblen said last night, they’re playing like they don’t want to be there. And as Phil said about last night, they don’t respect their opponent.

    Seriously, if they’re going to play like this, then Phil might as well just sit and rest all the starters until the playoffs. Why not? It couldn’t get any worse. And sorry, a 17-1 start after the AS break does not excuse their play the last 3 games!

  40. Gasol’s losing confidence in his jumper at the wrong time. He had it going so well just a few games ago.

  41. I want to overreact to the last two games the Lakers have played, the Lakers do not look good right now after playing so well since the all-star break
    Playoffs cannot start soon enough. Still want to Lakers to get home court over Boston and Miami but the margin for error is getting smaller and smaller

  42. I laughed at Miami when they lost a bunch in a row, then we lost a bunch. I laughed at the Spurs when they lost 6 in a row, and now we’re looking at 3 losses in a row after going 17-1. Ironic or punishment???

  43. Hey, Jane. Remember last night when you asked when was the last time Luke made a FG? Well tonight, the question is when was the last time Blake made one? :)

  44. The Warriors are a truly rotten team.

    Exemplars of rottenness < — is that even a word?

    Hello … earth to Lakers …. hello …. Lakers, do you copy?

  45. anoymous lakers fan April 6, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    steve blake is the absolute worse. he’s the worst “smart” player ever. Jordan farmar was a far superior player and was obviously far more familiar with the lakers schemes.

  46. I wish Stephen Curry was on the Lakers. Mitch get on it.

    Very surprised/disappointed by the Laker effort tonight.

  47. This is tough to watch.

  48. zero excuse for bynum being tied with blake for fewest shots of the players that made the floor…..i understand that we want drew to focus on defense and rebounds….but is he really our eighth or ninth best offensive option? drew should get at least ten shots a game….tonight he gets five…pau and lamar should give their paychecks back for this game….

  49. Artest, Fisher, Blake, Brown: 4/27

    Bynum/Gasol: 12/16

  50. This is typical lakers. But i’m sick of seeing both fisher and artest getting more shots than bynum almost on a nightly basis. The bench has been nonexistent, most notably shannon. Well it looks like the lakers are going to drop to 5th best record in the league by the start of the playoffs. They’re lucky Dallas has been losing to. What a way to just fall apart. This team now has to pray they don’t fall below dallas to because they still have portland in portland, okc and the spurs coming up.

  51. mindcrime: I second that.
    Bynum should get more selfish on offense. s. brown’s job should be passing the ball to bynum from now on

  52. Lakers 55-23
    Boston 54-23
    Miami 54-24
    Dallas 53-25
    OKC 52-26

  53. Bynum’s agent please get on the phone with Lakers’ front office to demand more touches on offense.

  54. Not worried a whole lot, but then again, I didn’t watch the game. Sounds painful from the comments; if I had watched it, I’d probably be more worried. But I just think this team has shown it truly can lock in and take their game to the next level when they want to. This is sort of a lame duck period. They hit their playoff stride and are probably just waiting for the playoffs to get here, not ‘staying in the present’ as Phil would say.

    I think we’ll be fine in a few weeks, that’s not the concern. But I just hope we don’t get to the Finals without home court and really look back and rue these winnable games.

  55. Bynum had 13 and 17, didn’t miss a shot and that was honestly the worst game he’s had in a while (in terms of defensive energy and challenging shots)

    He definitely looked frustrated tonight, and I can’t blame him, with his length every shot is a bunny for him, while Shannon Brown is taking contested 18 footers and Blake is clanging 3′s.

  56. how does phil tolerate:

    no touches for andrew?
    fish shooting 18 footers early in the shot clock?
    kobe going into hero mode?
    kobe not playing any D?
    kobe complaining on every play and cherry-picking rather than getting back in transition?
    shannon thinking he’s the kobe of the 2nd unit?
    luke’s general awfulness
    pau getting outmuscled by lou ahmadson

    arrgh!

  57. I do wonder about what Phil says to Shannon. Shannon seems extremely coachable, so I almost question if Phil really is communicating to him how much of a rhythm-killer he is. He might instead be letting Shannon find his own path of discovery and enlightenment. Kobe rubbing off on other players is usually a good thing (see: Ariza, Trevor), but in Shannon’s case he’s picked up all the bad habits, but without the skill level.

    This is where we could have used Tex Winter. He would have ripped Brown a new one. I say all this as a Brown fan back to his Mich St. days, and I’m still a big fan – but it’s time to rein Shannon in.

    Still, the most likely scenario to unfold – in the playoffs Shannon hits a few big shots and we all applaud Phil for his player development.

  58. If anybody can explain this Lakers team please, please, please do so.

    Thanking you in advance,

    R

  59. I could see all 1-4 in the West going down in the first round INCLUDING the Lakers.

    Denver Beats OKC.
    N.O. Beats Dallas.
    Portland Beats L.A.
    Memphis Beats San Antonio.

    OK the Dallas one is a little far fetched but tell me that couldn’t happen!

  60. This team takes after Kobe…
    when he is hot, it’s contagious…

    but when he is throwing up horrible bricks, then the whole team just FALLS APART FAST!!!

  61. I know its been said already, but what the heck. Against a team as small as Golden State Andrew Bynum should have AT LEAST ten shots. Yes, he did look a little winded tonight. Still the man has to get looks.

    Hopefully the Lakers wake up out of this funk by Friday night. If they come this weak against Portland they will get ran off the floor by halftime. I’m not too worried. We had to expect a letdown at some point. Right?

  62. Ha. Guys don’t worry. Everything is fine. I dont think Bynum will be the Lakers only good player when the playoffs start. I dont think Kobe will loke like an old man. I don’t think Gasol will be Hals interested in defense. I don’t think Fisher will be jacking up shots all over the court. And I havena feeling when it’s June the ball will appear more often in Bynum’s hands down in the paint.

  63. Maybe the Lakers staff have decided not to tip their hand in how they plan on taking apart whoever they meet in the Finals. Keep the bigs out of sight, along with how easy they can score against anyone, let the guards and forwards jack up J’s that do not go in, and then out of nowhere the 7-footers will dominate.