Blog Buddy: Peninsula Is Mightier
I predicted wrong. It was Poster Night, not Poster Day. The Warriors lost by 22, not 30. Ekpe Udoh barely got playing time in his "debut". But after a game like this, you can't help but feel like the Warriors are stuck on Groundhog Day. The Warriors are too skinny, can't play defense, take bad shots, have no system, rely on emotion, and have some glaring injuries.
It's time to wonder: Doesn't this pattern look familiar? Is Tim Kawakami right? Do the Warriors need to clean house?
Fastest Recap in the West
I'm going to focus more on the overall team issues as a result of performances in this game, but the first half ended with the Heat up just 48-45. The Heat were definitely not into the game yet, while the Warriors seemed to play frenetically, sloppily, yet with some sense of urgency. There were a lot of transition buckets and LeBron James was starting his highlight collection.
In the third quarter the Warriors were outscored 36-20 as the LeBron and Dwyane Wade show erupted. The Warriors' thin front line was becoming a glaring weakness. Both LeBron and Wade ended with near-triple-doubles. LeBron didn't even play the entire 4th quarter.
With Carlos Arroyo guarding him, Reggie Williams came out and had a pretty decent game, especially with an early fastbreak flush that he was quick to get through the rim as the break was quickly becoming 1-on-2. Later in the game, on a David Lee miss that was swatted which Lee was able to track down and save from going out of bounds with a flip to Reggie, Reggie nailed a deep right elbow trey at the shotclock buzzer. However, after the replay, the trey was negated.
Monta Ellis had his share of nice drives to the hoop, including a first half dunk in the lane via David Lee feed, but ended with just 20 points. Wade went down on the first possession of the game, getting elbowed in the head inadvertently during a pick by Andris Biedrins, so Monta saw himself guarded by LeBron for a bit. I think Monta should have ball-hogged tonight, as it was apparent that the frontline wasn't getting it done.
Acie Law came off the bench and played pretty well. He was able to get into the paint a couple times. Nothing spectacular, but spectacular is not what's needed in the backup role. Just no turnovers, solid passes, and solid defense. He looked pretty confident, as well he should be given the fact that he came back to an NBA contract in a familiar city with an implied plea for help.
Jeremy Lin got some garbage time late, and Bill Simmons called him, "American's favorite garbage time player."
Dorell Wright started off the game like he wanted to prove to the Heat that they made a mistake in letting him go or not giving him free reign last year. He was hitting treys and even almost had a putback dunk, which he offensive-boarded and later got an open three-pointer in the same possession. Late in the game when Keith Smart switched to a desperation zone, Wright found himself posted up on by Chris Bosh, and Bosh was able to power the ball by him. Wright would later take some ill-advised early treys and, of course, had his requisite Wade-wanna-be upfake and futile attempt to draw contact and free throws. I'm so getting sick of that move.
From the opening tip, Biedrins wasn't into it. He just played bad. Had a few good finishes from nice dimes such as via Monta, but that was about it. No relentless hustle. Actually, it's kind of alarming.
David Lee. Poor David Lee. I mean, you can really see him hurting out there. The tidbit about his elbow still bleeding, that's simply just gross, and I'm trying to be empathetic. He's clearly not himself. He hit a couple shots, but other shots weren't going in. Instead of putbacks left and right, it was only an occasional putback.
Lou Amundson played okay. Not quite beasting as he once did as a member of the Warriors Summer League team a few years ago. He may still be hurting as well, perhaps a little tentative.
Dan Gadzuric and Vladimir Radmanovich were non-factors, as expected, although Gadzuric looked like he came with some energy. Udoh didn't come in until it was garbage time, but he did score his first NBA bucket. He's probably not 100% healthy, either.
In case you missed it, here are the highlights.
There's nothing like LeBron and/or Wade on a fastbreak. Just a thing of beauty. Oracle fans got their money's worth in that department. Towards the end of the third quarter, LeBron got hot and was in the zone, swishing three treys from various points on the court. The only one he missed was the one at the buzzer and a little further out and off balance than the others.
Meanwhile, Wade was getting to the paint with ease. On one play, he split Monta up top and the right wing on the Warriors 3-2 zone, a left-handed hesitation drive with the dip of the shoulder. Then with David Lee as the next line of defense, he faded back and hit a bankshot gracefully. He made it look so easy.
Bosh came out, as he does, flat-footed and a bit slow-handed, while bricking his usual near-automatic midrangers. But in the second half, those J's started dropping and he was able to get to the rim a couple times on power dribbles.
Arroyo was hitting his open jumpers, although still the weak link for the Heat defense. And Mario Chalmers played decent. Zydrunas Ilgauskas was quiet. Juwan Howard didn't do too much but collected a flagrant one on Amundson. Joel Anthony got some garbage time.
Finally, Erick Dampier. The Warriors crowd booed him (along with LeBron, in contrast to starting lineup cheers for Wade). At the end of the first half in the ESPN Studios, Jon Barry said that Dampier was a factor for the Warriors in that he came in when the Heat were leading and left with the game with the score real close. Dampier was missing a lot of inside shots. His game was quite ugly this night. And yet, he was getting his hands on the ball deep. He's getting there.
I'm not sure there's much to glean from this game for either side. It was just one of those display-of-talent games. One of those games that NCAA enthusiasts point to as what's wrong with the NBA: not much teamwork, somewhat devoid of a system, and lacking in many areas of fundamentals. LeBron got called for cradling the ball up top and Wade had his usual handful of unforced errors.
It's starting to get "same old same old" for the Warriors, as in same frustrations, same aura as the past X-teen number of years (excluding We Believe). Everyone's hurt to some degree and due to salary issues and roster handcuffs (read: Jeremy Lin, Charlie Bell), the Warriors just cut their meatiest player, Jeff Adrien. There really are no short-term solutions right now. Udoh just played in his first game, Amundson is basically playing his pre-season in the regular season, and D.Lee is seemingly 80% or so.
So it begs the question. Is this just a stretch that all injured NBA squads go through, or is it a disease that the franchise needs to get rid of? Even the We Believe team was severely lacking in muscle.
Owner Joe Lacob said at the Owner's Luncheon that, like the Celtics, he prefers a big frontline with girth. If that's the intention, does it happen piecemeal or in clean house manner? Many people are pointing to Smart. But can another coach change the results of this unit, or is the roster just filled with too many "soft" ticky-tack-fouling types?
Let's face it. It's a very difficult turn-around job ahead. What do you think?