Midway through the third quarter, the Golden State Warriors were staring at their second blowout win in three games, both against depleted teams. Most would concur that good teams stomp out the weak, and the Warriors were doing so behind a suffocating defense and enough points from David Lee and Stephen Curry. But it just didn't seem like enough. The crowd was barely into it and Warriors Twitter (I just made this up so it's a thing now) seemed less than impressed by the effort doled out by players like Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes. The rising expectations that were building in the preseason seemed to start wearing on the fans.
The Warriors move to 15-13 and it's being penned by most as a disappointing disaster. What other way is there to put it when firing a head coach seems like a plausible topic of discussion? The process has left most of us wanting but there were enough good bits of basketball to start the notion that the future is a bright place. Mark Jackson referenced the team's defensive mindset four separate times in six questions in the post-game conference - with the other two on Bogut's play and Iguodala's health (Jackson says he's fine).
"[The bench] was great. Outstanding job with the intensity on the defensive end and disrupting what the Lakers were attempting to do."
The moment Jackson inserted Draymond Green, Toney Douglas and even Kent Bazemore, the team shifted to a full-court pressure defense. It rendered flashbacks of high school basketball and Douglas and Green almost did their own version of a run-and-jump (double and recover). Even though the Lakers scored on that type of defense several times, it was refreshing to see the bench excel and focus on what they were best at - swarming defense.
Mike D'Antoni on the defensive pressure:
"They kind of forced us to play a different game with Douglas picking up full court and their little guards picking up full court.'
Akin to the Miami Heat, that unit works best when they force turnovers and make teams play faster than they'd like. Transition opportunities are likely the open open shots manufactured by the bench and while Green turned it over twice in a 30-second span, it was part of the nitrous defense the Warriors brought in after the starters played lackadaisical basketball to start.
It was Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks and Nick Young the Warriors were fearless about pressuring, not Russell Westbrook, Tony Parker or Mike Conley Jr. It remains to be seen if the team can maintain this type of intensity against a better team.
The one player, sans Curry, that's sustained a high level of play throughout the season is Andrew Bogut. He came into the game averaging over 15 rebounds in his last seven games and grabbed a season-high 20 in just over 27 minutes. Seemingly over the myriad injuries that have plagued him over the past couple seasons — though he did sport an ice bag over his knee in the locker room (most players do this anyway) — Bogut has played springy in the majority of games. It started early this game when Wesley Johnson attempted to throw one down. It didn't work. He was a big part in the Lakers shooting under 33 percent from the field.
1. Andre Iguodala started limping on a flagrant/later changed to common foul play driving to the basket. He remained in the game but made very little tangible impact. He's obviously not 100 percent yet but Jackson maintained in the locker room that he wasn't worried and he needed to just get back in a rhythm.
2. Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes are both struggling on both sides of the ball. The difference? Thompson can turn his game around in instant - threes will always come open for him as long as he plays around Curry and Iguodala. For Barnes, it's been a struggle since Iguodala has come back. Those expecting an expanded offensive game and newfound aggression hasn't seen it come to fruition yet. Without a consistent aspect to his offensive game (unless you count too many pull-up midrange jumpers), it's hard to expect much right now.
3. Jackson got the ball to Green on a couple post-ups in the elbow area (similar to Dirk Nowitzki, sans the rest of the his offensive game) trying to take advantage of his excellent vision. There's argument as to whether he should try smallball (that doesn't seem like it'll happen anytime soon) but there are tweaks that the coaching staff is implementing. That's a start and something we should keep an eye on.