GSoM Playoff Q&A with Tim Kawakami 04/20/07 (Part 2 of 2)

GSoM friend Tim Kawakami was gracious enough to take some time out to do a Q&A with us despite his hectic schedule. He always brings a fresh perspective to the Bay Area and Warriors sports scene. Make sure to make Tim's blog Talking Points with Tim Kawakami a daily stop. Also, make sure to check out his work in the San Jose Mercury. Tim's always got the latest scoop on the Bay Area sports scene and some great insights. Warriors Nation is lucky to have Tim covering the Warriors.

We covered Part I yesterday, so now it's time for Part II.

Golden State of Mind: How do you beat this Warriors team? Right now they're on a roll, but what's their big weakness? What will the Mavericks try to do to slow this team down?

Tim Kawakami: Hmm, how do you beat the Warriors now? 9-1 to close, that tells you it ain't easy. I think you have to guard Stephen Jackson--really, he's their key explosion guy now. When he hits shots, or when he ambles into the lane for one of his slow-motion, Mullin-style 'and-1s', it just seems to always come at the perfect momentum moment.

They're what I call "found' baskets--nobody else was going to get those points, but Jackson went and got 'em and they're game-turners. (Murphy was the special "grabbed" stat guy, the stats he got were usually points or rebounds any other Warrior could've or would've gotten. They're not so important.)

I also think you have to slam the offensive boards, but not so much that you let the Warriors do the fastbreak stampede the other way. You can hurt the Warriors, though, with strength and force on the offensive glass (hello Ronny Turiaf!) and if you get the Warriors worried about their defensive boards, that prevents Harrington from leaking out, forces Richardson to stay low and bogs down everything.

You crash the offensive glass, you score at a high percentage, you make Richardson, especially, play defense, and suddenly the Warriors are playing half-court offense and that is not how they went 16-5 to close. (Basically, you do what the Lakers did in four straight games this year.)

Golden State of Mind: We're all enamored with our two young guns, Monta Ellis and Andris Biedrins. We want them to continually grow so in your opinion, how will their futures be affected by this playoff run?

Tim Kawakami: I think we've seen Ellis and Biedrins do most of their growing this season. The playoff experience won't hurt, but they just need time now. We know they have game, and we know they have confidence, and we know they have the right coach. So maybe Ellis has himself a great playoff game or two--he's still going to need a season or two to figure out how not to jump into four guys per game. So maybe Biedrins gets 13 rebounds in Game 3--he's still going to need a season or two to find a jump shot, any jump shot.

They're wonderful young players. They're the future. But the playoffs are now.

Golden State of Mind: Which player off the bench will have the biggest impact? Monta, Biedrins, Pietrus, and Barnes are all capable of providing a spark off the bench.

Tim Kawakami: I think Ellis is crucial to match up defensively either on Harris or Terry, because you just cannot think that Baron can do 40 minutes of hard defense chasing those guys and still have the legs on offense. Monta can let Baron take 5 free minutes, say, on Greg Buckner or Devean George, something like that. Those are precious minutes.

Matt Barnes might be another X-factor guy. The Mavs are going to collapse on all Baron penetrations, no question, and they're going to lean towards Richardson, too. So that will leave the deep wings unprotected, and that could be Barnes. Plus, he might see some time defending Howard.

Golden State of Mind: Nellie is a creative basketball genius. Is he going to throw in any new wrinkles that the Mavericks haven't seen yet? What kinds of tricks do you think Nellie has up his sleeve?

Tim Kawakami: I think we've seen most of his tricks--small lineup, Barnes or Jackson bringing it up, double- and triple-teaming Nowitzki... I just don't know what else you can do (short of leaving Dampier unguarded all game just to keep him in the game) and why he'd do it. He's 3-0 against the Mavs so far, why go nuts in this series with major changes?

Golden State of Mind: With Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis being the only players with considerable playoff experience, will their teammates' lack of experience affect the series?

Tim Kawakami: My first inclination is to say that Baron and Jackson have more than enough swagger to account for everybody else. But no, even those two cocky guys probably can't help if Ellis gets the jitters in Game 5 or Richardson's jump shot feels tight in Game 2. Pietrus, for sure, I see going bonkers for three or four games. He might be so wound up that he's useless.

So yes, I think the huge disparity in playoff experience is going to hurt the Warriors. But that's what happens when you miss the playoffs for 12 seasons in a row. You need one of these just to get you started, to give you a baseline for the next trip.

And there will be a next trip. That's the best thing for the Warriors and Warriors fans to know and cherish about 07.


Warriors Nation you gotta love that Tim always brings it in our Q&A's. Check out Part I, just in case you missed it.

Here's some more thoughts on the Warriors from our friend Tim Kawakami:

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