Much to the detriment of the Warriors, Rondo came up big for the C's tonight with nobody on the Warriors able to stay in front of him.
This game was a lot closer than I thought it would be. I really have no idea what to expect from this team. They usually play to their opponent's level so I don't think you'll see too many blowouts this year. That's probably why they've lost so many close games. They either can't pull away or can't get over the hump. I'm impressed the Warriors kept it as close as they did and astonished that they were up 13 at the half. That brought some optimism back but the champs showed the Warriors why they're still the chumps.
Hit the jump...
In honor of the Warriors 5 wins and Thanksgiving tomorrow, here are 5 things I'm thankful for and 5 things I wish I was thankful for.
5 Things I'm Thankful For
1) Andris Biedrins
He's been the Warriors best and most consistent player this year. His crazy string of double doubles was impressive but it's also the growth in his game that's fun to watch. He's learning something new every year and getting better on other aspects year to year. The free throws may never get to be good, but by the looks of it, he's going to challenge for an All-Star spot. Tonight wasn't a stellar night but over the course of this season, you know he's going to be good for a double double every night.
He really doesn't have a whole lot to work with so I'm not sure how you blame him for questionable rotations. He's got to try out different sets. He's got hardly any consistent players so it's a constant juggle of lineups to make sure he's got the best players in there. Tonight was slightly different. He knew that in order to win the game he was going to have to play his vets. The youngins only got a little bit of burn probably because they're just not ready to face a team like this. And without Monta, the Warriors nearly knocked off the defending champs on the road. That's impressive. Playing the young guys any more minutes wouldn't have helped.
3) Jamal Crawford
Finally, someone who can seriously handle the rock. He's still a little too careless with the ball (4 turnovers), but you can tell he's got the handles and passing skills to run the point on this Nelson team. He's going to be nice paired with Monta. Tonight, the shooting was ugly (5-17) but he brings a new dimension to the team that we haven't had at all this year.
4) Stephen Jackson
For all the stupid things he does, bad shots, even worse passes, he's a true basketball player. He loves the game, loves the fans, and makes you want to root for him. He's flawed but it's those same flaws that make it possible for him to be successful. The confidence to take any shot means he's not afraid of taking and hitting the big shot. He might have played his best game of the year tonight against the toughest opponent. 30 points on 11-18 shooting, 5 boards, 6 assists, and amazingly, just 2 turnovers. Pretty nice line going head to head with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
5) Block Parties
It's been awhile since the Warriors have had a serious shotblocker and now they have a few. The addition of Ronny Turiaf has given the Warriors' interior a new presence. Combine him with Wright, Randolph, and Biedrins and any player coming into the lane has to be aware of where these guys are. It's fun to finally see shot blockers on the team.
5 Things I Wish I was Thankful For
1) Giving Consistent Effort Every Game
How do you get blown out by 24 against the lowly Wizards without Gilbert Arenas and then come back the next night and play the Celtics nearly down to the wire? The combination of the inexperience of the young guys and not having a true leader on the court gives you these wild swings in the level of play. The Warriors aren't as good as you saw tonight, but they're also not nearly as bad as you saw last night. If they gave the kind of effort last night as they did tonight, the Wizards would still only have 1 win. It's unfortunate that this team only brings it's a game against the top teams because they're B and C games just equate to trips to the lottery.
At the end of this Celtics game you really saw what a great defensive effort will give you. Unfortunately, it was the Celtics who played great defense in shutting down the Warriors offense. From the 7:05 mark, the score was 102-100 Warriors. At the 2:23 mark, the Celtics were up 113-104. The held the Warriors to 2 free throws at such a critical juncture of the game. It's team defense that won the Celtics that championship, not the offense.
3) A Promising Young Player
I no longer consider Biedrins or Monta to be young players. Of all the rest of them, Wright, Randolph, Morrow, and Belinelli, do any of them strike you as promising? Are there any guys you'd bet serious money on to be All-Stars? No. I think Randolph has the best chance, but he's still got a long way to go. For all the talk of the Warriors being young, it really only matters if they're promising young players. It showed tonight with Nellie's reluctance (rightfully so) to put in the young players in a tight game against the defending champs. Any egregious mistake could cost the Warriors the game. In the long run, I'd love to see Wright and Randolph be able to play against top competition but right now, they're just not ready.
4) A Healthy Back
Al Harrington's bad back that couldn't play a minute for the Warriors in his last 7 games with the team can all of a sudden play 41 minutes in the 2nd game of a back to back. Really? They must have some miracle drugs in New York. Either that or Al was pullin' something seriously shady.
5) Salary Cap Space for 2010
I know that the Warriors aren't going to be in the running for any of the big names that become free agents in 2010 and not many of those guys are ever going to leave their own teams, but I'd rather have that cap space than wasting the money on players that aren't going to get us anywhere in the playoffs. At least give us fans some chance of getting a superstar even if it is a slim chance.