Got out of the gym yesterday around 6 pm to find out that Rajon Rondo would miss the game because of a hip injury. Well then, I should probably go to the gym more in the next week. Preferably next Wednesday and Saturday.
A couple things before the game that I consciously kept an eye out for were Coach Mark Jackson's rotations on a back-to-back, Harrison Barnes' aggressiveness to start the game and Klay Thompson's shot selection.
These aren't necessarily glaring issues with the Warriors but do present slightly disturbing rends that may potentially transpire down the stretch of the season.
Without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics pretty much stood around, waited for something to happen, stood around some more and the Warriors just outclassed them by controlling tempo and forcing contested jumpers.
But in neo-Warriors fashion, they got a big lead, squandered it and held on to win the game rather convincingly. In this game, they managed to open the lead back up late in the fourth quarter so there wasn't the usual stress associated with five-point games down the stretch.
I just can't resist myself. This is my third time this year selecting Jarrett Jack as the Warrior Wonder. He just does so many solid things on the court that go unnoticed. From picking up the tougher point guards Steph can't stay in front of to leading a controlled break for a transition three; he is the leader for the Warriors whenever he is on the court.
The one sequence in the fourth quarter exemplified what he has done all season. With the lead dwindling down to eight in typical Warriors fashion, Jack nailed a three, drove to the bucket for a layup, and dropped a dime to Charles Jenkins for a couple wide-open jumpers.
Jack is without a doubt, the Dubs go-to player in the clutch and whenever they need someone to stem the tide. He's been doing it all season but it's very surprising the way he has been able to do it. One thing Jack excels in is creating separation when he drives into the lane and leaning back for an eight to ten foot jumper. Automatic.
Minutes and Adjustments
From the opening tip, it was clear that the Celtics would do everything in their power to get the ball out of Curry's hands. They immediately doubled out of pick-and-rolls and forced Curry into a couple quick turnovers in transition as well. But Mark Jackson immediately made an adjustment and had Barnes bring the ball up and Curry run off baseline screens with Klay Thompson. Barnes proceeded to score 10 quick points in the first quarter.
However, it appeared Jackson then forgot to put Barnes back in. Granted, he has been successful the past few weeks and all season with the rotation he has gone with, but with Barnes hot hand and aggressiveness, it was tough to see him check back in with two minutes left in the half. Without consistent touches and minutes it's really tough to predict which type of Barnes comes up on a game-to-game basis but this was a nice development for the rookie.
On a back-to-back and already playing a career-high nearly 38 minutes per game, Stephen Curry again played into the mid-30s, on the court for 35 total minutes. Early on it appeared Jackson was resting Curry when he took him out midway through the first but the minutes came regressed back to his season averages later on when Curry played the bulk of the second half. It paid off because Curry made a flurry of steals and threes but it is something to keep an eye on.
Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson
Along with Stephen Curry, David Lee and Andrew Bogut (we hope) the future relies on the potential production of Barnes and Thompson for the next couple years. While both are expected to be the respective starting shooting guard and small forward for the foreseeable future, there are things to keep an eye on this season.
Klay's shot selection is still a minor issue and he did only shoot nine shots today, making four, but his continued aggression and recklessness towards taking off-balance jumpers and pull-up threes early in the shot clock is a concern later in the season, or even the next two games (against the Los Angeles Clippers) when the games should be closer and the margin for error much less.
Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, Barnes propensity to go towards the bucket and post up looking to shoot seems to come and go between games and even during the game itself. This is mostly attributed to the minutes he is getting but he needs to maintain the agressive shot selection that Klay has for the season.
And in turn, Klay could take a page out of Barnes' book in picking his spots on offense. The two studs of the future could learn from each other and create a team even better than it is now.
David Lee-Stephen Curry pick-and-pop
This might be one of the most unstoppable plays in the league right now. Zero hyperbole.
Lee is of course garnering much more attention as a top-flight power forward this season because the Dubs are winning. A fair amount of Lee's dominance is attributed to the fact that opposing forwards and guards don't know how to guard the screen and roll with Curry and Lee. Or they do, but they just can't stop it.
With Klay and Barnes spacing the floor, they can't immediately double off the roll because it would leave two players wide open. That split second it takes opponents to recover is a death knell for Lee's quick first-step, solid jumper and newfound crossover. They are running it to perfection right now and one can only imagine the spacing when Andrew Bogut returns.
And with that, I fill my self-quota of one Andrew Bogut injury mention a post.
Festus Ezeli made two free throws in a row.