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Game Thread (900+ comments)
Sensory overload on the last critical play here. Sooo many things to talk about. But before I do that, let me preface by saying it's hard not to be too scathing on the Warriors and their basketball operations -- I'm talking from the top at Joe Lacob and Jerry West down to the assistant coaches, because I feel like history is repeating itself.
Where do we begin? First, the "blown" kicked ball. Because I hire refs for my league all the time and one of our Vegas tournament refs is now an actual NBA official (Tre Maddox), I can tell you that there was no referee in the exact same position as the replay camera, so no human referee, in the areas on the court where they were supposed to be, could have seen the ball actually getting kicked. It was such a quick-reflex play, no referee on this planet would have blown the whistle.
The other two refs? Irrelevant. They are not supposed to be making a call that's not in their jurisdiction or area of the court. And I've actually had a ref in my league who made calls that over-ruled another ref's jurisdiction. It's a huge no-no. You just don't do it. I quietly fired that ref. That would be like in a Ford assembly plant where the robot which installs the hood of a truck all of a sudden decides to try and install the seats. You stick to your role on each play and you only over-rule if the play crossed over into your area and the ref who was supposed to make the call agrees to your over-rule.
But how about Monta Ellis once again not attacking with no less than six seconds remaining? According to the replay he went at around less than 5 ticks left.
Why do I say six seconds? Because I once had seats in row four behind the Denver Nuggets bench at The Oracle and in a game where Carmelo Anthony hit the game-winner, followed by a Mike Dunleavy brick at the buzzer, I had heard Coach George Karl scream at Melo to "go at six!" And that makes perfect sense.
On Twitter, Matt Steinmetz suggested that Monta's crossover to the left was due to the fact that he had done that to the Pacers before, but perhaps Hill had a scouting report on Monta. Whatever the case, we've seen this so many times that we know either Monta is going hard right, or the little crossover left. There's not much else in the arsenal. No spin, no shoulder fakes, no stutter steps. Contrast that to, say, Derrick Rose. He has the ball up top with six seconds, you really have no idea which way he's going.
Let us dissect further.
How about at least an on-ball screen after the previous two last-second going-too-late mess-ups from Monta? Why must Monta dribble past the defender all by himself? Should the ball even be in the hands of Monta? Is there an assistant coach working with Monta on these last-second moves, looking at game tape? You would assume so, but now I have to ask because it's happened three times this season.
What about Stephen Curry's and-one foul chasing down Hill?
There's an overarching theme here. We've seen endings like this before. We've seen developments to the endings like this before. Roy Hibbert had a career-high 16 rebounds through just three quarters, which shows the inside dominance the Pacers had on the Warriors. We've seen the Warriors get beat up down low before. We've seen Andris Biedrins make some "good lord" blunders. We've seen David Lee be the Number Two offensive weapon, an aspect of his game that did not result in his All-Star appearance with the Knicks (he was named an All-Star because of his super-bottom-feeder abilities), only to see awkwardly created shots go up and fall off the rim.
One problem with this theme is that when you are the fifth option, as Mark Jackson would vehemently disagree with me, Biedrins is going to be in a near-irreparable pyschological quandry. Those of you who were actually the fifth option on your school or youth team, or on the playground, can relate (note: I have been the 1st through 5th options on my teams -- after a few years, you figure out where to play so you're not ever the fifth option). When you're that 5th man at the playground and you get an offensive rebound, proceeded immediately by your four teammates screaming at you to pass them the ball, a pyschological barrier is created. Your basketball self-esteem drops to zero. There is only one way out: leave and find a new team. And yes, I speak from experience.
If you can't shake things up with a big-man acquisition, may I ask, does Curry need to start? You can justify bringing Steph off the bench, with that bum ankle. Why not start Dorell Wright at the 2 and Brandon Rush at the 3? At least then you have, in height if not girth, a lineup that meets the NBA average.
OK, I'm done berating.
- Actually, nice to see Steph back and doing some of his trademark moves. But we're all cringing at the sight of that white ankle and calf bandage, right? Steinmetz suggests sitting him and thinking about the Dubs' draft issues.
- David West, beast. Let me take that "Poor Man's David West" talk I made about Brandon Rush. With all due respect to Rush, I retract that statement and it's not because of anything Rush did. It's because David West. Is. A. Beast.
- So the Pacers subtracted Brandon Rush and Mike Dunleavy, among others I'm sure, and added D.West and George Hill? I didn't even notice. Look at Larry Bird making these stealth moves. As I've written before, I really liked last year's version, especially when they beat the Heat. This year's is even better.
- Great offensive game by George Hill, too.
- Great first half shooting from Dorell Wright. But I say again, would it kill the Warriors to play him at the 2 and Rush at the 3?
- I still like Hibbert, even though he looks less inspired this year than last year. Have no clue why he appears that way to me.
- Nate Robinson provided a small spark at the end of the 3rd. Dominic McGuire tipped in what would have been Nate's third straight "wow" bucket to close the quarter up 2. Unfortunately, the momentum ended there and most of the 4th was a repeat of the first 3 quarters of doldrums basketball.