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Preview: Warriors vs. Celtics showcases the value (and risk) of being patient

Golden State is the worst team in the league. It may not be fun to watch all the time, but patience is the way out of the cellar.

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Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

In the classic 1995 movie, Friday, there’s a scene where Ice Cube’s character, Craig, is given some advice from his dad about how to take the wins and losses that come from fighting. In the scene, he implores his son to leave his gun at home and goes on to talk about how the modern era is “sissified” and “afraid to take a [butt] whoopin’.”

It’s a lesson in not being afraid to take your lumps. The willingness to get punched is a big part of actually being tough in a meaningful way. So no, this team isn't going to be trading Draymond Green or giving up on D'Angelo Russell just because of some losses.

The Golden State Warriors right now are taking a whoopin’ pretty much every single night. Sitting at 2-10, featuring the league’s worst defense, these games have not been exceptionally close recently — and against the resurgent Boston Celtics, there’s no hiding from the fight that is headed our way.

Say what you will about Golden State’s chances on paper tonight, but one thing the team can control is their effort and intent. With the losses piling up, patience is going to start wearing thin and the rest of the league is gleefully stomping on the Warriors while the dynasty is in torpor.

For a developing young team like this, just learning to keep fighting is more important than the win-loss record. Patience — from the fan, the players, and the team — is the path out of this mire. Things will get better.

As a fan of the team, this monologue really speaks to me right now.


GAME DETAILS

WHO: Golden State Warriors (2-10) vs. Boston Celtics (9-1)

WHEN: Friday, November 14, 2019; 7:30 pm PST

WHERE: Chase Center — San Francisco, CA

WATCH: NBC Sports, ESPN

Blog Buddy: Celtics Blog


So many problems

It’s odd writing about this team over the past few years. It’s been almost too hard to find faults — after all, a bad night here or there didn’t matter much for a team playing with nothing to prove until the postseason. Now, I’m having the opposite problem, with so much going wrong, it’s been difficult to pick an area of emphasis to look at.

The defense is one area of concern. And by concern, I mean the sort that sends you running around with your head on fire. So far this season, Golden State’s defensive rating is 117.2, which is one of the absolute worst in NBA history.

Draymond Green spoke pretty frankly about the issues, which are so widespread that it’s hard to pin down any one specific player at fault. The defense is so leaky, from the point of attack, to bad rotations, to guys just generally getting beat man-on-man, that the team can’t win like this.

Another problem is that D’Angelo Russell is in dire need of offensive help. After starting off the season squarely in the middle of the pack, Golden State’s offense has started to slowly slide into the land of mediocrity. Right now, the team has an offensive rating of 106.4 — 19th in a league of 30 teams.

If the defense is going to be this bad, the offense can’t follow suit.

Let’s be sure and start our criticisms off with the understanding that these players are being put into some extremely tough positions. Without the bulk of our talent, it has thrust minimum salary bench players into starting roles, and put slowly-developing rookies into the limelights. Rookie Jordan Poole has been part of the problem. He’s playing heavy minutes (5th on the team of active players) and trails only D’Angelo Russell in field goal attempts per 100 possessions. Unfortunately, his shot hasn’t been there; he’s just 28% from deep, with an eFG of .359 (worst on the entire roster).

But as we’ve been saying: patience.

This isn’t a team in win-now mode. As painful as it is to watch, these beatings are all valuable learning experiences, and our rookies are getting more reps than they ever would have with a fully functional roster at Steve Kerr’s disposal.

The Celtics are for real

On the other end of the “currently playing high quality ball” spectrum, the Boston Celtics are sitting on the league’s best record and have flourished after an offseason with significant roster changes. Like the Warriors, they had to endure a breakup of a very good team, and it’s not been a direct path back to contention, in spite of all the draft picks they got from the Brooklyn Nyets.

They’re back now though.

Gone are the ball-dominant ways and finger-pointing weirdness of Kyrie Irving. Now replaced by perennially under-recognized Kemba Walker, the team’s egalitarian offense under coach Brad Stevens is running smoothly.

Though the Celtics will miss Gordon Hayward — who had been playing great but is out with a minor broken bone after getting his hand caught in another player’s jersey - they should have more than enough firepower to dispense Ky Bowman’s Golden State Warriors.

Prediction

According to Anthony Slater, Kerr has been working the team harder in practice than usual — hearkening back to his first days of leading this squad by making them run basic defensive drills. He squeezed in a full practice on a game day before Wednesday’s Lakers game, and this team doesn’t get the benefit of taking it easy:

“It might’ve qualified as a training camp practice for last year’s team,” Kerr said. “We went through defensive drills and got after it a little bit, pick-and-roll coverages. We’ve changed our routine quite a bit this year to try to catch guys up.”

...

“Yeah, it was crazy,” Green said. “I was like, ‘All right, this is interesting.’ But you gotta teach. You don’t have a ton of practices, so you have to teach on the fly.

My only prediction is that the Warriors are going to come out to play. Win or lose, they’ll learn something, and we will all patiently continue on this painful tour of watching our team get gleefully dunked on like when the principal at school sat in the dunk tank at the carnival.

It builds character!