What do the Warriors do without David Lee?

Doug Pensinger

David Lee is out for the rest of the season with a Grade 3 hip flexor tear. So there goes any shots at the NBA Finals. What will the Golden State Warriors do without Lee? Does this improve the defense? Or is the offensive downgrade too much to handle?

Are the Boston Celtics better without Rajon Rondo? Do the Los Angeles Lakers need Kobe Bryant to upset the San Antonio Spurs? Ewing Theory!

Those are some legitimate questions that have been tossed around the arena of NBA debate-dom. Bill Simmons has coined the phrase "Ewing Theory" to explain the reasoning behind the temporary higher level of play a team exhibits when their star player goes down.

Granted, David Lee isn't the Warriors' best player but he's their second-leading scorer and is a perfect complement in the screen-and-pop game the Dubs like to play off of.

There are significant flaws in Simmons' theory that we can contend; specifically, just how integral Ewing was to that Knicks team and how quantifiable the psychological portion of basketball can be? However, that's a debate for another day.

The concern now is how the Warriors can deal without Lee's ability to shoot, post up and pass from the interior. All those are reasons that make the Warriors offense as multi-faceted as it is.

On the other side of the coin, how does this affect the defense? With Kenneth Faried seemingly on his way back, will Mark Jackson choose to employ Draymond Green or start Carl Landry? There's no way Landry will keep Faried off the glass and Landry doesn't possess the offensive game to force the Warriors to gameplan the offense that way.

How would an innovative four-out, one-in lineup work with Green, Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson playing the wings work? Because the Denver Nuggets don't force anyone to go big, this may be the optimal lineup. Kosta Koufos and JaVale McGee are long bigs but they don't present much of an offensive threat.

The last time Mark Jackson started Green along with Barnes and Thompson was in Stephen Curry's epic 54-point performance at Madison Square Garden. He picked up a couple quick fouls on Carmelo Anthony and had to foul out but this instance is a bit different. His insertion into the starting lineup would mean that Jackson is aware of Wilson Chandler's ability to shoot and Faried's propensity to crash the boards.

Barnes is a key factor as he'll assuredly receive more shots but it's up to him to play aggressively. A player with his talent and athleticism doesn't need set plays. The only player that can match up to him athletically is Andre iguodala but he's busy chasing Curry and Thompson off screens. But I'd caution how much pressure we are putting on the rookie in the middle of a playoff series.

He can be great but he's certainly no LeBron James or Kyrie Irving.

And let's face it, Lee was playing poorly before he got hurt; missing layups and getting his shots blocked while refraining from the extra pass put a strain on the transition defense.

It might not matter who starts but it'll be interesting to see what Jackson does throughout the game. He made nice adjustments in the second half of Game 2: playing some zone, leaving Bogut in for extended minutes and having Thompson initiate a little more offense.

Then there was the bad; playing Jarrett Jack and worse, letting him handle the ball, inexplicably leaving a rookie on the Professor at the end of the game and not leaving a timeout for a last-second play.

Game 2 isn't necessarily a must-win (though I'd argue all playoff games are must-wins). But if the Warriors want to keep their slim first-round upset chances alive, Jackson will have to be creative with with the players he has left. He certainly has the talent to do so.

What should Mark Jackson do to fill the void of David Lee? Who can or will step up?

Leave your comments below.

For more on the Warriors postseason, visit our 2013 NBA Playoffs section.

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