26

Missed Opportunity

I really don’t want to dwell on the negative, but it’s just in me. Sorry. Well, not really sorry. I don’t get paid to look on the bright side. I digress.
Though the Warriors went 3-1 on a brutal four-games-in-five-nights road trip, all I can think about is the game they gave away. If the Warriors would’ve lost the fourth quarter to Indiana by just 13 points, they’d be 26-16 and in fourth place in the West. As it is, they’re eighth.
I know, I know. It’s early.
I know, I know. If they beat Indiana, there’s no guarantee they go on to beat Chicago and Milwaukee.
I know, I know. Games like that happen through the course of the season.
But this year is eerily different. This season, it seems, its going to come down to a game here or a game there.
Think I’m overexaggerating? Well, the Warriors had already given away three games heading into Indiana.
Vs. Orlando: Monta Ellis missed a free throw that would’ve put the Warriors up by three with 17 seconds left in the game. Instead of the Magic needing to heave a game-tying 3-pointer, Rashard Lewis went to the rack and was fouled. Both free throws sent the game to OT, where Orlando won.
At New Jersey: ahead by one in the final two minutes, Jackson and BD both took and missed 3-pointers, then someone left Vince Carter wideopen for a 3-pointer. Vince’s shot proved to be the eventual game-winner as the Warriors turned the ball over on their next two possessions.
Vs. Denver: Down two, Baron passes up a lay-up for a 3-pointer by Jackson, who was 5-for-14 from 3-point range at the time. Denver, also a high-scoring team, capitalized by making the smart play on the other end, Carmelo Anthony drawing a foul and nailing the free throws.
Not that the Warriors are done because they gave these much-needed victories away. By no means. I just have concerns about if they can even play at their highest level consistently. I think Nellie might be right when he said he doesn’t know if they can play any better.
If that’s the case, they certainly can’t afford to give away too many more games. They’re going to need a favorable match-up and homecourt advantage to make some real noise in the playoffs. And the difference between the No. 4 seed and the No. 5 seed, the No. 3 seed and the No. 6 seed, could come down to an unacceptable fourth-quarter performance in Indiana.

Marcus Thompson

  • leftyodoul

    Yup, the playoff race is gonna be real close. And those losses stand out in my mind, too, as ones that got away. But over 82 games, you have to expect that you’re not going to win every game that you could. When you do, you’ve joined the very elite teams in the league. These losses have to be compared with the over 10 games the W’s have won in which they trailed in the 2nd half by more than 10 points, or miraculously won in the final minute on Jack or Baron’s heroics. I’d say we’ve won far more games that we could have lost than lost games we could have won.

  • OneDub

    great points MT2.
    But looking at the other side of the ledger, the Warriors have won several games that they had to make big comebacks to win.
    First few to come to mind:
    @ Sac,Phili
    home to the Lakers, Heat, Pacers
    Hope the Warriors can continue to roll.
    They’ve been playing .700 ball now for quite some time.

  • EJ

    marcus. with all that said, how do the warriors shake up the roster effectively without disrupting the core of the team? i was skeptical about the j-rich move, but that trade has proven to be worth while thus far. i know we still have the trade exemption, but is there anyone on the team aside from bd, jack, al, monta, andris that could get us the help to push us past the 7th or 8th spots?

    i heard in a radio interview that nellie doesn’t expect the roster to be the same after the trade deadline…

  • ANthos

    what about putting together a deal to get Vince Carter from NJ they might be ready to call it over and rebuild
    that would be huge for us

  • Phil Sukalewski

    Marcus – I hear you and agree that every game counts. but it’s a little like saying in golf, gee, if i would have made those 3-foot putts on 15 and 18, i would have tied my personal best. but you forget about those unlikely chip ins and the hole you drained a 30 footer on. similarly, the Ws have let a few slip away, but they’ve stolen a few as well (the Indy game at home comes to mind). it’s unrealistic to think that they’ll steal a few here and there and then win all the games they are supposed to.

  • Wilson

    Those losses were painful, but the Warriors have also won games in the last minutes that they shouldn’t have, and every team loses heartbreakers to inferior teams. I don’t know if the Warriors are better or worse than comparable teams.

  • Joe

    Marcus Realx, we are 8 games over 500 for the first time in a thousand years, sit back and enjoy the ride bro! Go WARRIORS!

  • Marcus

    You guys are so predictable. I knew you would all say that.
    Of course, you’re all right. But where are the pessimists out there? One year in the playoffs, and everybody has such great faith in the Warriors!

  • True Believer

    Minnesota just jobbed us.

    Game, set, match. Dynamite being warmed…..

  • Vince

    According to AP, “Davis spent Sunday at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, where his documentary on gang life in South Central Los Angeles, “Made in America,” debuted.”

    After logging 45 and 37 mins, respectively, in back to back games on Friday and Saturday, BD decided to fly to Utah from Milwaukee on Sunday before a Monday home game at 1 pm.

    This team lacks the players who are committed. Nash or Duncan wouldn’t have done similar things. They are committed to winning a championship. BD shouldn’t have done it if he were committed in bringing the team back to the playoffs again.

    I agree that solving gang problem in LA is more important than this round ball game. But BD could have let any of his partners represent him in the festival.

    And this from a person who thinks he deserves to be an All Star, and deserves a pay raise from his current 15+ million salary.

  • Vince

    Not to be misunderstood. I love this team as much as anybody and I watch each and every game cheering. But I think I need to lower my expectation and accept them for what they are.

  • petaluman

    I know sports is more entertainment than news, but I thought reporters were paid not to look on the bright or dark side, but to be objective?

    The funny thing is that after all the downer vibe, you end the article talking about the 3-6 spots and making some noise in the play-offs. I think the Warriors are a young, exciting team, but I’m not that optimistic myself. We have a good shot at making the play-offs, and I’d be thrilled with that.

  • Andrew

    Marcus, you can add tonights loss as a “Missed Opportunity” That game sums up your whole article.

  • commish

    I’m glad to have the opportunity to vent because the Warriors are such a flawed albeit exciting team. I mostly blame Nelson for not bringing along some of our rookies in earlier games when they could have played more. He relies on the same seven or eight players and sticks with them through thick and thin. And although there has been more ‘thick’ than ‘thin’, the bottom line is Jax and Harrington have been playing very subpar lately. But Nelson is inclined to let them play through it–even if they don’t. He can’t trust the rooks because he has never given them a chance to contribute. I would have benched Jax and Harrington at different times over the last couple weeks for total lack of focus. He has no problem benching Pietrus, and rightly so, for the same fundamental lack of focus and discipline Jax and Harrington have exhibited.

    I know, the glass is more than half full; that is for sure. But down the road, when we possibly slip from 8th to 9th or worse, people will be screaming about what you call “missed opportunities”. I don’t think it is exactly missed opportunities as much as games on the schedule we should have won. But not just won as much as crushed the opposition. Like I said, and no one may agree, I lay this on Nelson’s entire approach of letting the team captains run the team without stepping up and playing those players who have a strong desire to win day in and day out. Our team shows up for the top teams and plays completely uninspired the rest of the time. Except on the road where they have something to prove. Elite teams have more pride and discipline than to lay down against a team who was 5-32 AT HOME.

  • Marcus

    Petaluman,

    That’s a pretty old school view of a reporter. Maybe that’s true for a news reporter. But this is sports. I am an NBA columnist/insider. My job is to give my opinion and insight.

    And I was saying they could realistically get the No. 3 (winning the Pacific) or No. 6 sixth seed (finishing second in the Pacific). You don’t think this team could do that? Maybe you’re right.

    My entire point was that this team lives way too dangerously and can’t afford to do that. As Andrew said, my suspicions were realized Monday.

    EJ,

    some players I think would have an immediate impact, if the Warriors could somehow pry them away, without ruining the core are Miami PF Udonis Haslem, Seattle PF Chris Wilcox and G/F Mike Miller — all playing for teams that are done. Doubt if they could get him, but Corey Maggette (a free agent to be) would be a perfect fit.
    I’d say why not shake up the core? What is this core going to get you, really? A trip to the West Finals at best. I’d be willing to part with anybody but BD, depending on who they’re getting. I would give up BD, but I think the Warriors would get more out of him as a PG than they would trading him. All Star or no, his reputation is not good enough to trade. Granted, it would take a lot for me to give up Monta, but I’d do it.
    I’d give up Stephen Jackson and/or Andris Biedrins for Pau Gasol, which would drastically shake up the core. Might even give up one of them for Vince Carter, even though I’d have serious reservations. I would give up Jackson for Josh Smith or Andre Iguodala, who will be restricted free agents.
    All of those names are somewhat farfetched, but they have been mentioned in trade rumors (not Smith and Iguodala, but they both could be moving next offseason), so you never know. The point is, I don’t think this core is untouchable. The core is inherently flawed, which is why it may take some movement to reach another level.

    Matt Barnes said it best Monday night:
    “That’s the thing about us, we’re not consistent. We’re not playing 48 minutes. We’re getting spots of greatness and then other times it’s mediocre. That’s something we’ve got to work on. There’s no way we should have lost this game tonight.”

  • jeff t.

    Beacause the Warriors have no real post-up players, no offensive rebounders and are too short around the hoop they don’t get any easy wins. They get very few easy baskets — and they give up tons of easy put-backs. The Ws must be very hot from the field and must play with high energy every game. That’s where they are going to blow some games. 82 games of super high energy hot shooting is unlikely. Obviously, they need a physical post player to do some dirty work — apparently, that kind of guy is hard to aquire?

  • True Believer

    Wright looks like a lot of fun but apparently he’s not ready yet.

    Jason Richardson is.

  • EJ

    rack the t-wolves game as another missed opportunity. we might want to think of guarding ryan gomes next year. just a suggestion….

  • EJ

    AND…

    i don’t buy into the whole “get someone to back up baron so he doesn’t log so many minutes”. the big issue is not his minutes, but finding a go-to-guy when he rests those 8 minutes he isn’t on the floor. al harrington is the streakiest guy i have EVER seen. when baron is off the floor you can only pray that either monta can nail the 15 footers, al catches fire, or that we can get easy buckets in transition. i really like the idea of getting mike miller. he’d be a great option for when baron rests. the prefect 6th man for this team.

  • Wilson

    The one positive for a team like the Warriors that is so hot and cold is that while playing down to the level of inferior teams can cost them games and could possibly drop them out of the playoffs, the capacity they have of elevating their games under desperate situations means that if they are close to the playoffs at the end, they will ratchet it up a notch and go on another run near the close of the season. And if they make it into the playoffs, they are capable of playing with consistently great intensity and can beat anybody. Frustrating, though.

  • JustPuked

    I confine my missed opportunities list to the Nets game, the Pacers game and yesterday’s T-Wolves game. It’s one thing to lose a close one to a team where you’re the underdog (Orlando) or where a superstar gets Nova Hot (Nuggets – Iverson). Losing to teams the Warriors are should beat like the Nets, Pacers and T-Wolves is a serious let down.

    The teams all bunched together in the standings are a blessing and a curse. If any from 1-10 in the Western Conference standings loses three games in a row while other teams are winning, they could be out of it in a heart blink. While it’s somewhat understandable to lose on the back end of a back to back on the road (Pacers), the Warriors just don’t have the margin of error to miss an opportunity to pick up a win against the lottery bound T-Wolves at home. I know it was just a one point loss but that was a more disheartening lose that the game they gave to the Trailblazers in the first 10 minutes a few weeks back.

    While the Warriors playoff run last year made pessimists of us all, I have to wonder about what Marcus asks. Is this “core” all it’s cracked up to be?

    The current reasoning is Mullin didn’t sign POB & Azubuike long term to protect this summer’s cap space. Once the “Trade” happened, presumably this summer was targeted as “The” summer to make or break the future of the Warriors. The Richardson trade cleared more space and brought in another prospect but the cap space was the catalyst. That’s the supposed reasoning behind all the short term moves like not picking up POB’s contract, the (basically) one year deal with Azubuike, letting Mbenga go, cutting Lasme, etc. etc. All of this done with the goal of making sure the Warriors have plenty of cap space this summer for….what exactly?

    Just to resign our current roster? That would be the current roster that’s already having difficulty making the playoffs? So….we’re going to use that long fought for cap space to resign Baron, Monta, Andris and Kelenna, which will mean back to salary cap overload and we’ll have….the exact same team we have now (basically) but the hope is, we picked the right eggs to put in our basket. That Davis, Ellis, Biedrins and Azubuike (and Wright/Belinelli etc) are the right stocks around which to build our young growing team? That’s it? Is that enough?

    Don’t get me wrong I think Monta, Biedrins and Azubuike are remarkable young talents with bright futures and Baron is freakin superhuman at times. But, if resigning everyone just means we’re back to square one, a limited team with zero salary cap flexibility and questionable long term playoff prospects how the hell is that a great plan?

    I’m not suddenly on a negative Nellie trip, but as a long time Warrior fan and a true believer, it would be short sighted to let our recent “One Shining Moment” limit my view of Warrior history to just the most recent past. There has to be more to the plan that just this…right? Right?!!?

  • JustPuked

    heh, heh, heh…that’s made optimists of us all…

  • wordbfree

    Matt Damon’s character from Rounders was right when he said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Surprisingly, most poker players don’t remember the biggest hands they’ve won. However, they can vividly remember the bad beats.”

  • petaluman

    Al, Captain Jack, BW, Marco, and Kosta are the only Warriors under binding contract next year; Baron and Kelenna have player options. It would be pretty easy to blow up the team in the off-season, especially if BD opts out.

    This also limits what we can offer in trade. Most of our players are effectively expiring contracts. Baron could walk at the end of the season. I think most teams are still waiting to see if Jackson can stay good. Harrington is probably the most expendable and may be the most tradeable long-term contract we have, other than Brandan.

    Marcus, if a team wanted to trade for Monta or Andris, is it possible to do a sign and trade at this point in the season? If not, would they acquire Bird rights in the trade? Without one of those, it would seem pretty risky for a team to give up much for either of them.

  • Marcus

    Petaluman,

    You can’t do a sign and trade with them because neither are free agents. For Monta and Andris, who are under contract, it wouldn’t be a signing, but an extension. Only free agents can “sign.” The time to extend ended Oct. 31. Rookie contracts can’t be extended until a set period during the offseason. And the way I understand it, their Bird rights would go with them. It’s only when you have signed a Qualifying offer that you lose Bird rights when you agree to a trade.

  • petaluman

    Marcus,

    Thanks for the quick response. It sounds like any team that traded for them would only be guaranteed of their services this year, but would have an advantage in signing them next year.