Tonight's Leastern Conference opponent sported a .350 winning record (or .650 losing record if you want to look at it that way), were without one of their best players, and were down by 13 after the first quarter in their own building. Well anything can happen in this league and that's why you play a full 48 minutes.
Preview/ Open Thread (209+ Comments)
Killer Warrior Becomes a Warrior Killer.
Make the jump for what went right, what went wrong, and yes, of course, few thoughts- make that a ton- about the JRich trade so far and how it's working out for the Dubs.
What Went Right
Not much, but real quick...s
It really looked like the Warriors were going to put this one away easy after the first 12 minutes. They were were on fire dropping more hits than 106 & Park. 38 points and a 13 point lead to open up the game on the road is very impressive. People are quick to critique the Warriors when they come out half awake, so it's only fair to give them props when they come out firing. If they come out to play like that, more often than not they're going to get a nice W.
Offense from Boom Dizzle, 1 Man Fast Break, and Jack
Overall all 3 of these guys came out with some very nice offense output. They took a combined 57 shots between them to get 83 points, which probably isn't ideal. But when no other Warrior hits double digits in points I guess that's what has to be done. These 3 carried the Dubs on offense tonight. Defense? Well that's another story. Call it the Steve Nash rule. It's infinitely easier to put up impressive stats on offense if you aren't play the other half of the game.
What Went Wrong:
A lot actually, but here's the 3 biggest WWW's (what went wrong):
Gimme a D for Defense
No seriously, aside from Mickael Pietrus for a little bit here and there were these guys even trying? Baron Davis didn't look like he focused on D for more than a few seconds. Monta Ellis is continuing his campaign for LVP on D. Stephen Jackson just didn't bring it. Al Harrington seemed off. Brandan Wright was pushed around. Patrick O'Bryant should never be playing if he's going to be that soft. Kelenna gets beat off the dribble by the simplest fakes and slowest cuts to the basket.
Andris Biedrins or Chris Webber would definitely help on D. I'm not saying either are good defenders right now (Biedrins is pretty awful one on one and Webber can't rotate one bit), but at least Biedrins brings some okay to good weak side help (his blocks are actually down from last season) and CWebb can give give guys like Okafor trouble one-on-one down low with his quick hands and positioning. So maybe the Warriors aren't really this bad on D when healthy. I'd like to see those guys playing more together when healthy. They seem like a good pairing for both offense and more importantly defense, but we'll see.
This team needs some defensive help in the worst way possible. It's too late for a trade (Ron Artest or Kurt Thomas would've helped a ton), so it has to come internally. I have no idea how to make that happen aside from my seemingly foolish Biedrins and Webber pairing (but give me some points for being creative!), so I'll leave that to Nellie.
No, I'm not talking about the sloppy second quarter and the 8 Warrior turnovers in that period alone (although I probably should), I'm talking about the crazy rate at which the Warriors picked up fouls tonigh. It doesn't get any more foul than this:
- Al Harrington- 5 in 23:38
- Brandan Wright- 4 in 23:14
- Mickael Pietrus- 6 in 23:44 (although nice work on that smart foul on Okafor in the final minutes of the game)
- Kelenna Azubuike- 2 in 12:34
- Austin Croshere- 3 in 10:40
- Patrick O'Bryant- 2 in 5:34
The Dubs sent the Bobcats to the line an unsightly 41 times (although 3 of those were because of a silly flagrant foul on Okafor by Matt Barnes). Be thankful the BETcats are one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the league- in particular Okafor- or else this game would've been a blowout. That was super sloppy.
Where's the Windex?
Let's just say there's a problem when Matt Carroll grabs 11 against you. I can't seem to dig up the stat, but watching the game it really felt like what really helped the BETcats pull off this win, in spite of shooting 42.6% to the Warriors 48.8%, in addition to the trips to the line were the second chance points.
I'm fairly confident that a lot of smart GSoMers will outline more WWW's in the comments if you for some odd reason can't get enough of those. I think this exchange between Barnett and Fitz on the FSN Bay Area telecast towards the end of the 2nd quarter pretty much sums up the outing:
Barnett: Is Matt Carroll a good defender?
Barnett: He's got 4 steals!
It felt like there was a made for BET reality show special being filmed in Charlotte this evening in front of an audience of about 13 people (man, that arena looked empty on TV) titled "Warrior Killers". In addition to the 11 steals and 4 boards from Carroll, these BETcats went Petey Pablo and repped NORTH CAROLINA!!:
Jason Richardson: Look, I love JR. He's one of my favorite Warriors of all time, but even I'll be the first person to tell you he doesn't have the unworldly dribble drive and penetration skills that he put on full display tonight. Sure his handles and driving abilities aren't nearly as bad as some people make them out to be, but they aren't anything more than very average for a starting swingman in the NBA.
JRich is a great player. Near All-Star caliber 2-guard. He might even make an All-Star squad in the Leastern Conference if the Bobcats get a decent coach and play up to their potential when healthy. But he is not a superstar. I'm hoping this was some agreed upon gift that BD and the gang hooked Jason up with before the game or something. The only time they stopped him is when they triple teamed him up near half court. Unacceptable defense.
Smoove Reverse Finishes.
Emeka Okafor: I haven't seen Okafor enough in the NBA to know if that Al Harrington-like poor finishing ability near the rim tonight was just a bad outing or a real trend. Either way the Warriors are just lucky he couldn't finish around the rim tonight at all. He was just too big and strong for the Warriors down low, particularly Wright and POB. Emeka should've had a 30 point career game tonight. The Warriors escaped. Unacceptable defense.
Warriors got off easy.
- Jared Dudley: If the 22nd pick in this past draft is going to torch the Warriors for a career night of 10 points, 18 REBOUNDS!, and 2 blocks while outplaying #8 pick Brandan Wright and #18 pick Marco Belinelli is warming the bench, there's some serious problems in Warriors land. Unacceptable defense.
At least Dudley got Funleavy'ed.
Can I give it to JR? I'll let you all golden folks decide in the comments who should get tonight's award.
Warriors Losers in Year 1 (so far) of the Trade
I'm big on evaluating trades on a year by year basis. You don't get to say 4 years from now one player is putting up nice numbers as a starter and the other isn't as good, so one team automatically won. Each of those years in between matters. Look at the Lakers when they traded Shaq. For years 1-3 they lost big time (actually missed the playoffs entirely and were knocked out twice in the 1st round), but now the Lakers look amazing with Lamar Odom and Caron Butler > Kwame Brown > Pau Gasol, and Shaq well not being Shaq. Doesn't mean the Lakers won the trade one bit. They lost out on 3 years of contending for the lovely O'Brien trophy.
It hasn't been a full year yet since the Warriors and BETcats made their draft day deal, but through 60 games I think we're at a good enough point to check in at least. Some of my dearest friends and highly esteemed colleagues believe the Warriors made a great trade. I don't.
I've seen and heard it all since the Warriors traded JRich this past draft day including:
- "Belinelli is going to be 10x better than JRich! He can shoot and handle much better."- Um, no.
- "Kelenna Azubuike is an UPGRADE over JRich!"- Um, no.
- "The Warriors are going to be better with Brandan Wright this year."- Um, no.
Hey while everyone is seemingly ooo-ing and aah-ing over these sorts of games from a rookie forward that Nellie just doesn't seem to want to play and will probably be banished to the bench when Andris Biedrins returns:
March 5 @ Bobcats: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block, 4 fouls and outplayed by Jared Dudley!
March 4 @ Hawks: 5 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 block
March 2 vs Blazers: 13 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block
February 29 vs 76ers: 12 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks
Season: 4.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.1 stl, 0.4 blk
I'm looking at what the Warriors are missing out on:
March 5 vs Warriors: 42 points, 7 boards, 7-7 FT's, and the best player on the floor tonight.
March 4 @ Timberwolves: 25 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 1 steal
March 2 vs Raptors: 30 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal
February 29 @ Celtics: 30 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals
Season: 20.5 ppg (43.3% 3pt), 5.1 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.2 stl, 0.7 blk
A lot of Warrior fans were eying Mike Miller at the deadline, thinking that would make a huge impact on their season. Well, how good would the Warriors be if they had JRich right now? Think they'd be closer to earning a first round bye in this year's playoffs and deadlier team with JR? I do.
Again, I'm not saying the Warriors had to keep Jason Richardson per say. They were loaded with swingmen and needed some bigs who could rebound and defend. It would've made perfect sense to trade JRich for a guy of Drew Gooden's caliber. But they didn't. Instead they made a bad trade for year 1. Think Nellie, BD, Jack, Monta, Biedrins, Webber, Barnes, Pietrus, Harrington, Azubuike, and Croshere want to hear about what might happen in year 3 or 4 of the trade in the middle of this fantastic playoff run and Warriors season? I doubt it and neither do I.
Also, I'm not saying this trade had to be a bad one in year 1. If they actually used that all-talk-but-no-action $10 million trade exception from the deal to get a stud like Ron Artest at the trade deadline, the Warriors would've been HUGE winners of this deal. I'd even go so far to say if they moved Brandan Wright + the exception for Artest (as long as there's somewhat of a commitment to stay with the Dubs from Ron-Ron) the JRich deal would've been a great move because they need a ton of help on the defensive end and Artest is near or at JR's level on offense. But they didn't.
We'll check back again in July on the trade. Hopefully Mully and Nellie work some miracle with that trade exception. Before people jump out of their seat to say that the Warriors couldn't afford extensions for Biedrins and Monta this offseason (I'll actually boldly predict that both probably won't get big deals this offseason and the Warriors will let the market decide their price in the summer of 2009- although it's late and I'll have to double check if that makes sense for Monta's second round situation) if they kept Richardson on the books or another $10 million+ deal, compare their payroll to the rest of the league. They've got nothing to complain about, especially when they're packing the house after 12 years of disaster and play in a large market.
Also check out some of GSoM friend Tim Kawakami's thoughts on the game and more: Charlotte 118, Warriors 109: Did Jason Richardson crush the Warriors' shot at a 6 or 7 seed? [Talking Points]
Sure, it's a bad loss to a bad team, but let's all take pride in the fact that the Warriors are a WHOPPING 14 GAMES OVER .500. If you would've told me that the Warriors would ever been double digit games over .500 in my lifetime at this point a year ago, I would've passed along some life long advice I thankfully picked up in my high school days: "Don't smoke crack. It's bad for you." Seriously though, 14 games over .500 and a .617 winning percentage 60 games into the season? I'll take it.
The Warriors have another back to back this Friday in the Southeast. They have to at least get a split. My boy FJ sees a W against the Heat and an L against the Magic (see Counting W's for Week 19). I will contend that that makes absolutely too much sense and this Warriors team makes absolutely no sense. I see a random loss against the Heat and then a surprise win in Disney World. Why? I really have no idea.
Photos: Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images + AP Photo/Rick Havner