Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Miami. Home to the defending champions, defending MVP and world's best player, and David Caruso. It's hard to predict a win here, I've gotta be honest. But our heroes roll in with a 14-7 record, a record built on the backs of many different contributors, and they should be celebrated. Let's take a look at 2012's Warrior Wonders, and discuss what each can do to help us beat the Heat.
Tip-Off: 4:30PM PST
TV: CSN Bay Area | Radio: KNBR 680
Blog Buddy: Hot Hot Hoops
Let's first drive home the point that these Warriors are not to be taken lightly, courtesy of God's gift to basketball:
.@kingjames on the Warriors (next opponent): We've got a really good team coming in here. It's going to be a big game for us.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 11, 2012
I actually wish he said, "I didn't even remember these guys were in the league — I think I'll take the game off." Alas — an ego stoked is an ego with something to lose. So, how do we, uh, not lose? With a little help from our wondrous friends!
Three Warrior Wonder awards for our trusty leader. And trusty he's been of late, especially from the three point line: in 10 of the Warriors' last 12 games, Curry has shot 50% or better from the arc. He's running this team as a shoot-first point guard, and damn well he should — he is his skillset, as tafkasam discussed in his excellent fanpost. And we're going to need his scoring tonight: the Heat are the third best offensive team in the league, so they're likely to put up some points. They do allow the most three-point attempts of any team in the league, so that does play into Steph's strength. And speaking of three pointers, surprisingly Miami is numero uno in the category, shooting 41.9%, led by the preposterous LeBron James, shooting 44.1% from three himself. How is that even fair?
David Lee probably deserves more Warrior Wonder awards than he's received of late. Other than the Indiana game, he's been super efficient on offense, scoring on a variety of
dazzling awkward moves, showing awkward dazzling dexterity and touch off the glass. His rebounding is there, his passing is sometimes there, and his defense hasn't been as glaringly bad.
Against the Heat, Lee might just be matched up for most of the night against *gulp* one LeBron James — you may have heard of him. Offensively, I think Lee can get his usual shots up.
Defensively... well, that ain't gonna work. It really, really ain't. Do we see Barnes and Green on LeBron instead, with Lee running out at Shane Battier three-pointers? Do the Warriors just play zone all game? Does Mark Jackson switch up the starting lineup and just go smallball the entire game, but with Green in the frontcourt instead of Landry?
All of these options suck. There's a reason LeBron is the best player in the game.
Barnes is the third mentioned in this rundown because he has three Warrior Wonder awards to his name already in this young season. Fleeting memories, those — Harrison's mojo is in a cavernous place at the moment. His rebounding, an early-season strength, is a bit down; his defense is at ground level; and his shooting is buried deep beneath the earth. He looks like a guy whose role on offense is suddenly unclear: Jackson has stopped using him in high pick and rolls to penetrate, either because Steph is now excelling in that position in his stead or because Barnes has ceased to excel because defenses are now aware of his strengths and weaknesses.
But Harrison might be the kinda guy that will get up for this game. In his first matchup against The King, I could imagine him having a little extra juice, especially against a fairly weak defensive front. Jackson needs to find a way to get him off the three-point line and into the lane or on the baseline for some at-rim opportunities. There's no reason he shouldn't be able to rebound against these guys either — not a particular strength of the 2012 Heat.
Of course, one of the reasons that Barnes has been relegated to an afterthought is this man. Draymond Green's offense is terrible, no doubt. But defensively he provides the energy, strength, and positional versatility necessary in a game like this, full of problematic matchups involving tall shooters and bulldogged drivers. I have to assume he'll be defending one LeBron James for a good number of minutes, and while stopping him is something one cannot do, containing him is what one might hope for. Right, guys?
Jarrett Jack has had a couple of really good games. He was awarded accordingly. He's kinda stunk up the joint in the last couple, though, so this would be a mighty fine time for him to snap out of it. He'll probably need to play tough defense on Dwyane Wade in the fourth quarter, which might actually work. But Jack is going to need to play smarter, shoot better shots, and defer to his offensive betters like Curry and Lee. And he'll need to stay active rotating back out to three-point shooters.
Uh, I'm as surprised as you. Yes, Jenksanity has two WW's, and good for him. He's actually scoring 16.4 PTS/36M on good efficiency. But if this game is close in the 4th, I honestly don't see Chuck getting much burn. We're going to see heavy minutes (as usual) from Curry and Jack.
How on earth does Carl Landry only have one Warrior Wonder? We're a bunch of idiots. I'm going to need to tally up the Game Links polls, because I'm sure you all have given more props to Big Carl than we have. Landry has been our most efficient offensive player this year, with a 63.1 TS%, and part of that is he's the only Warrior to get to the line with regularity (6.8 attempts in 36 minutes). Miami is middle of the pack in at-rim FG% defense, but they don't have much in the way of individual post defenders; we need to find a way to get Landry going down low to balance the inevitable three-point barrage.
Are you kidding me? Who let this guy in here?
Here's a guy we really could have used in this game. Rush would have been our best defender against LeBron, and the extra long range firepower would have certainly helped. But I'm glad he was able to be commemorated in the best of ways: as a Warrior Wonder.
So, who will it be tonight? Will Klay Thompson get his first WW of the season? Will Kent Bazemore get one before Klay? Should we just give Bazemore one right now for the hell of it? Is LeBron James just going to take the WW award too? And... can we stay undefeated on this road trip?
Who wins the Warrior Wonder tonight?
Steph Curry (66 votes)
David Lee (17 votes)
Harrison Barnes (20 votes)
Klay Thompson (30 votes)
Festus Ezeli (4 votes)
Carl Landry (5 votes)
Jarrett Jack (2 votes)
Draymond Green (22 votes)
Charles Jenkins (0 votes)
Andris Biedrins (11 votes)
Richard Jefferson (1 vote)
Kent Bazemore (9 votes)
Jeremy Tyler (ha!) (2 votes)
Brandon Rush (0 votes)
Andrew Bogut! (2 votes)
LeBron James :( (24 votes)
215 total votes