Zach Lowe of Grantland penned the Golden State Warriors as the "why not?" title contenders of the 2013-14 NBA season. So of course, the Warriors go out the day after and lose to a Denver Nuggets team sans Andre Miller by seven points. Not only that but they somehow managed to allow J.J. Hickson to pick Stephen Curry twice in an isolation situation (lots of those going on) and grab 24 (!!!!!) rebounds.
Championship contenders win these types of games. They---- ahh, let's not get into that type of lazy analysis. The Warriors are still a very good team, one with enough potential to win a playoff series or four. Tonight's game, sans Toney Douglas, simply exposed on a national stage some of the underlying flaws that's plagued the Warriors this season.
The Curry turnovers weren't anyone else's fault but the star point guard's. But any time you get your best player against Hickson, you have to, HAVE TO, attack that relentlessly. Sometimes, balls just go off legs.
As for the David Lee and the legion of wings (Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala) posting up, it's been a problem (ish) all season. A telling quote came from Denver coach Brian Shaw when he confirmed he wanted Nate Robinson to guard Lee in a last-minute possession. Lee went on to make the layup (plus-one which he missed) but Shaw was OK with that (though he did point out a double should have come). Shaw wanted Robinson to stick on the taller player so he could switch off in case of a pick-and-roll against Curry, preventing the three.
Shaw essentially points out what every other coach in the NBA assuredly knows now; the Warriors like to exploit the size matchup even if it screws their own offensive game. The decision to keep posting up stuck out like a sore thumb because the Warriors lost. However, win or lose, there's got to be a better way to game plan a more efficient offense. NBA teams are going to give the Warriors every iso they want and even bait them into it. It's time for Jackson to adjust.
2. Andrew Bogut in late-game situations
As I was walking from the Denver to the Warriors locker room, Bogut walked out from the tunnel, ostensibly ducking out before the media walked in. (And no, I was in no way about to ask him a question. I do value my life and media access). Bogut played less than two minutes in the fourth quarter and only came in when Timofey Mozgov checked in, checking out immediately when he fouled out. Hickson salted the game away with an offensive rebound in the waning seconds and here's thinking a seven-foot center traded here for the purpose of rebounding and to erase the flashbacks of repeated missed boards would have made a difference.
Jackson has done this all season, opting for a smaller lineup so the team can switch (?). It can work when Green, Iguodala, Thompson are in but Barnes played most of the fourth quarter. The Nuggets were pick-and-rolling and spreading the floor but it isn't like Hickson, Mozgov and Faried are excellent midrange shooters. Leaving them open isn't a bad option if the Warriors can close down the middle.
Jackson appears to be playing a matchup-based defense on Bogut, which isn't what the Warriors need from one of the better defensive centers in the NBA. It wasn't just the final seconds that cost the Warriors the win; it was the entire fourth quarter the Dubs spent watching the Nuggets shoot layup after layup.
3. Curry threes.
Scoring 24 points on 19 shots is a pretty good night but Curry again struggled shooting the deep ball, going 4-13. Granted, some were of the desperation variety - with one left-handed heave - but several were short, perhaps alluding to the excuses of fatigue. Either way, the best shooter in the world is struggling from the most efficient spot on the court and there's a reason for concern.
Just kidding, he's fine. Go to the corner and take a timeout if you were nodding your head in agreement.
Kept his team in the game on the offensive end - taking advantage of any and all Nuggets players. 28 points on 16 shots and 11 rebounds isn't too shabby. However, he played center for long stretches of the game and the Warriors interior defense resembled that of a *insert bloody mess image here*.
Jackson on if he felt the team was rusty after four days off:
"That's an easy excuse. We were bad. Defensively that's as bad as it gets.....It was a bad display by us."
Jackson on Nate Robinson (24 points on 9-12 shooting):
"He's a spectacular player that once he gets it going he can score as well as anybody. He got it going tonight. If you don't allow Fournier to hit that shot by worrying about a foul and not gettin gback, we don't need a stop at the end of the ball game. It's the little things."
Nate Robinson on playing for several NBA teams:
"I write to myself and just reflect on my career. It's helped me cope with not being able to get the contract I want, playing time or being on one team. But for me, my whole thing is the NBA. It doesn't matter what team I play for. I'm going to always play the same way, the right way, try to play to win and play with my heart every night."
Nate Robinson on his comfort level playing in this area:
"I have ties in Oakland. My dad is in Oakland. He is the first player to ever win the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl MVP. Coming from here, from nothing, has really helped me with my confidence and not being afraid to play against anybody, no matter who it is. It could be LeBron James or Kevin Durant."