About an hour after first pitch for the Oakland A's and Detroit Tigers' decisive Game 5 in the MLB playoffs at O.co Coliseum tonight, the Golden State Warriors will tip-off against Maccabi Haifa at Oracle Arena.
And given that you can't watch this Warriors exhibition game against a non-NBA opponent, I won't blame you if your attention is directed toward the other side of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex - the Warriors' game is even more insignificant than most preseason games in comparison to what's happening at O.co.
Nevertheless, as you might expect, the Warriors still have work to do and aren't taking this game any less seriously. And for at least three players, tonight's game is in fact meaningful in various ways.
- For second-year forward Jeremy Tyler it might mean a little more than most on a personal note: as reported by San Francisco Chronicle reporter Rusty Simmons, Maccabi Haifa is where Jeremy Tyler began his professional basketball career after leaving high school early and, "...had on-court shoving matches, was called lazy, out of shape and soft, and ended up quitting with five weeks remaining in the 2009-10 season." As Warriors coach Mark Jackson said yesterday after practice, Maccabi should be prepared to see a different Jeremy Tyler than they briefly came to know.
Maccabi Haifa's video preview of tonight's game with Jeremy Tyler, Stephen Curry, and Mark Jackson.
- For Stephen Curry, tonight's game is another opportunity to get some reps and get back in game shape, as also reported by Simmons.
- Harrison Barnes will be getting his first start, as reported by Contra Costa Times reporter Marcus Thompson II.
How will Barnes fit with the starting unit?
Evanz put together a nice shot chart of Barnes' first two preseason games, which he posted on Twitter.
So far it's clear Barnes likes shooting from the right side of the court (although he also had two left drives for dunks on Monday), but he's shown much improved ball handling and a stronger post-up game in preseason since summer league.
Jackson said this is a chance to actually see how Barnes might look with the starting unit, so it might be interesting to watch how they use him with that unit tonight. Where will the team be looking to set Barnes up? Or will he primarily fill the role of a spot up shooter to spread the court when he's playing with the starters?
How will Curry perform tonight after two days of practice?
Curry said in his post-practice interview yet that conditioning is a big part of what he's working on, but a lot of getting ready for the season is going to come down to just getting minutes on the floor.
"Conditioning is a big part of it as you start to feel like every play you're able to make a play, defensively and offensively - shooting the ball, getting into the lane and making decisions," said Curry. "Skill work just kind of comes out of that. Then in certain situations you just gotta make plays in practice and in games. So if I'm able to continue getting those opportunities - reps - my game will start to come back. But I'm really not that far away."
Given that the pain he felt on Monday night was apparently unrelated to his surgically repaired ankle, we should probably expect to see Curry get more reps. Coach Mark Jackson essentially concurred after saying that Curry will probably get more minutes tonight.
"I was very happy with his first game and I think the more he plays, he's going to get more and more comfortable meaning not physically but as far as he hasn't played in a while," said Jackson. "Some of these days, practice is actually his game - we're trying to get him there."
Is the Warriors' defense ahead of the offense right now?
Another thing that Curry addressed was the defense being a bit ahead of the offense right now in terms of execution. Curry noted that while they've held their first two preseason opponents under 40% defensively, offensively they're, "...kind of running too fast and getting mixed up with their execution and timing."
When asked what the source of the problem was, he offered a reflection on last season.
"It's about executing it better than we did last year, especially in the fourth quarter," said Curry. "Our talent kind of kept us in it the first three quarters and then the defenses really tightened up and pressure situations came up in the fourth quarter - there was like five games that we lost...games we should've won. We played good defense, but then in the fourth quarter we turned the ball over we didn't get good shots, our offense was sluggish. That's the next step - being able to execute perfectly throughout the whole game and in the fourth quarter when it matters."
Part of the solution for their inconsistent offensive execution is the addition of point guard Jarrett Jack, who has drawn mixed reviews thus far from the GSoM community but has impressed coach Jackson thus far.
"He's a proven guy," said Jackson. "Extremely tough, very vocal, knows how to run a team. I think the issue is that a week, week and a half ago, he wasn't 100%. Another guy that gets his reps, continues to work his tail off - I have no concerns about him. He definitely brings something to this team that was much needed."
For more on Maccabi, check out the bottom of Simmons' article about Tyler.