The 2nd half started as a blowout...
How much can the Golden State Warriors and their fans learn from a preseason game against a team that many college teams would be able to beat? Quite a bit. Coach Don Nelson tried a bunch of different combinations. Ike Diogu and Troy Murphy, Monta Ellis and Dajuan Wagner, Baron Davis and Monta, Mike Dunleavy and Andirs Biedrins. You could tell he was experimenting and trying to find a unit that seemed to gel together. Overall, the Warriors played very well. The Turkish team was clearly no match, but their fans were the loudest in the building the whole time, even when they were down by 50.
1) Monta Ellis is still a baller
I felt he was the best player out there. He was electric tonight. Everything that we saw at the end of last year, he brought it out this year. And it's only the first game of the preseason. He didn't look rusty from his long layoff after the injury in the summer league nor did it seem to affect his game. He was quick as usual, able to drive the lane and hit jumpers. His defense was also superb as he stayed in front of his man and managed to get his hands on some passes. Just like Monty last year, Nelson is going to have a real hard time keeping Monta out of the game.
2) Biedrins is going to be valuable
He could really turn into a backup center possibly earning 25 minutes a night. He's not a Nelson player, but Nellie has to love his hustle. This is not the same player we saw last year. He still has the nonstop motor but his game looked more refined and patient. On offense, he's always around the basket either anticipating a dish from the penetrating guard or cleaning up the garbage. Once he does get the ball, he's become more patient and doesn't hurry himself. He seemed to collect himself tonight, survey the D, and then either take one hard dribble or just go straight up. He's got real soft hands too as he seemed to catch most everything that was thrown his way. He even ran a sweet pick and roll with Dunleavy about 15 feet out, where Dunleavy gave him a nice bounce pass resulting in a Biedrins bucket. On defense he also seemed to play under control better. Even though he picked up a couple fouls he still grabbed some boards, changed shots, and overall did a nice defensive job.
3) Dajuan Wagner got skillz
Sure that's not surprising but this is the first time he's done it for real in a Warriors uniform. He's got this nice floater in traffic to get over the big guys. Also, he's got the quickness to get to the bucket and the strength to finish. I'm sure it felt great for him to do well in his first game back.
4) Dunleavy, the point forward
Dunleavy played well tonight but a lot of guys did. What was key for him was to show that he can play the point and run the offense. I think he did a good job tonight. With Baron on the floor at the same time and Dunleavy initiating the offense, they had Baron post up the smaller guards. This worked great tonight as Baron was able to overpower the other guards and also use his quickness to get inside. He made some nice passes and basically ran the offense well in combination with either Baron, Monta or Dajuan. It's going to be an interesting combination if the three scorers and initiators, Baron, Monta, and Dajuan, are freed up from ball handling duties to fly around on offense curling around picks and moving without the ball.
5) It's a whole different ballgame
This is the type of team I want to see play. On offense, instead of people camping out on the 3 point line, a lot of guys were able to penetrate and create offense for others. Not only were the players, Murphy included, able to drive the lane, but the teammates were no longer standing around on the perimeter. They were cutting to the open spots (Baron to Dunleavy early in the game). Teammates were looking to get open or rotate the ball to keep the offense in motion. The offense never really felt stagnant like it did on Monday night at the open practice.
On defense the team showed a lot of heart. They were getting in the passing lanes, trying to create turnovers for easy transition buckets. They caused a lot of problems for the Turkish team. You could see the desire that was missing from last year especially in the man to man defense. I only remember seeing the zone defense used occasionally in the 1st quarter. The one sequence I remember was Dunleavy was guarding someone in the post. Baron doubled down and you could hear him talking to Dunleavy. The ball swung out and the defense rotated well. The Turkish team ended up with a poor shot and a lost possession. I don't recall the Warriors playing too much other zone defense the whole game.
The transition game, a staple of a Nelson coached team, was in full effect tonight. They may not have had a ton of fast break points, but the rebounders got the ball to the guards quickly or dribbled it up themselves. The fast breaks started much faster and the passing was much more crisp.
...and ended as a blowout
We gotta give props to Tim Kawakami tonight for taking the time out to meet up with us during halftime. He's a real cool guy and just from that short talk with him we could really tell he knows his hoops inside and out. If you get the chance, check out Kawakami's take on the night and his analysis of the Dunleavy-Ellis-Biedrins unit.
Oh and thanks to our buddy BK for hooking up the tickets.
Will the Warriors be able to sustain this success against NBA teams?