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Smart Defense

After Friday’s game, Nellie voluntarily offered up to us his decision to make Keith Smart a “defensive coordinator” of sorts. He will turn over all defensive responsibilities to Smart and his assistant in defensive czardom, Sidney Moncrief.
Is this a stunt or a legitimate strategy to help the defense. Here is the transcript. You decide.

Don Nelson:
“I’ve decided to identify one of my weaknesses at this point in my life, which is I’m not tough enough anymore. I’m a little soft as I get older and I feel like I haven’t done a very good job defensively this year. And so I’m making Keith Smart the defensive coordinator and Sydney Moncrief his assistant. They will be handling all of the defensive training, the game plans defensively and, during the game, the switching of situations. They’re in charge of the defense now. I’m going to try what football has done for years and that’s pass off some responsibility and I think it’s going to be a real positive move.”

We have to identify some of our problems. Our problem is not offense. We normally generate enough offense. It’s defense and I feel I’ve let the team down in a lot of ways because I haven’t been stern enough. What I’ve been trying to do is cover everybody’s weaknesses, understanding their reasons for not being able to do certain things defensively and trying to cover for them as opposed to demanding that they get better defensively. So I’ve got a couple of really good young guys. As you know, Keith Smart is a Bobby Knight disciple. He knows a lot about defense. Moncrief is a two-time defense player of the year. Hopefully they can do that job I failed at, and that’s to be more demanding defensively. I’m still the head coach, but we’ll make decisions together. But they are in charge of the defensive program from this point on.

How will this impact substitutions?
We’ll talk about that. If there’s something that really bothers them defensively and they want to make a move, I’ll do that. Normally, we talk about substitutions anyway, so I don’t that’ll be a problem, making moves on the bench.

What will be different?
More authority. What I wanted to do is put an emphasis on our weakness as a team and my weakness as a coach. We must improve on the defensive end and this is a start. We’ve identified the problem. Everybody knows about it. I’ve known about it. But we have to do something about it. This is step one in trying to do something about a problem.

Did tonight’s game illustrate the need for this change?
We missed some assignments. Actually, we did a pretty good job for a long time. I mean, Joe Johnson’s a great player. He’s going to take over and do a lot of positive things offensively. He’s one of the best players in the league. So I don’t know what exactly that question means, but I thought we did a pretty good job for a long time.

Is this the first time the NBA’s had a defensive coordinator?
I think it is. I hadn’t heard of one. Anyway, this is a first. It’s very successful in football, so we’re going to try it out for our team and I hope that it works, and I think it will.

How long has this been a weakness of yours?
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become softer, which is a good thing for me. I was way too stern when I was young, too demanding, really, often times. You have tyo have a good balance of that. At this point, we just need some more tyoughness and young coaches making more demands than I have. So, anyway, this is a problem that I’m identifying in myself and trying to do something about it.

Why is it too much?I think its going to help me concentrate more on some other issues and some other things. Right now, to do the whole thing is pretty demanding. I spend a lot of time watching other teams’ defense and I need to watch my own team play some. It’s not enough hours in the day to really do every thing so this will help me identify some more time and be a positive for the ball club.

Is this a precursor to handing the team over to Smart?
That’s not my decision. I have two more years. I wouldn’t worry about that at this point. That’s got nothing to do with anything. This is identifying a problem that we need to work on and I’ve got two guys that have great energy, great philosophy, great abilities in that area and I’m going to turn it over to them.

Jackson had some interesting comments:
“I think it’s good because Keith probably can see different things that probably the coach can’t see. For what it’s worth, he’s a younger coach. You know, he probably can relate to guys more. So, hopefully it might work.”
“I think we’re a soft team. We could be more physical on defense. Since we play a lot of small ball, we have to rebound better. But we have to trust each other on defense. We don’t trust each other like we did in previous years. And that’s a big problem.”

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Post-game Tidbits

* Jackson said he’s done for this road trip. He re-aggravated his hand at shootaround today and said he’s going to give it some real rest. Something he should’ve done a while ago, IMHO.

Jax:
“I’m going to sit out a couple of games and give it time to heal. The reason it’s hurting now is because I never gave it a chance to heal. I always played and it keeps getting hit game after game. So I’m going to take a couple games off and see how it feels by the time we get home.”

“Each time it gets hit, it gets worse and worse. I haven’t given it time to cool down. I think it just compiles on it and there’s no way its going to get better if I continue to play and it continues to get hit. So I made the decision to talk to coach about taking a couple of games off so it can get better and hopefully I can withstand the hits and not keep going backwards.”

He said he will stay on the road trip. He’s hoping to play when the team returns home on Dec. 26.

*Nellie answered the question about his alleged comments to Randolph. As a refresher, ESPN’s Chris Broussard said Nelson told Randolph to talk to his agent and tell him to work on a trade because Randolph wasn’t working out with the Warriors. Nelson said that was absolutely not true. He said he wanted to sit down with Randolph and Randolph’s agent.

Nellie:
“He’s got to work harder in practice. He’s got to do somethings to get better. That’s all that was about. I wanted to sit down with he and his agent. So that’s not true.”

* It just amazes me that Brandan Wright doesn’t play more often. Friday, he had 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting 8 rebounds in 30 minutes. He entered the game shooting 60.4 percent from the field.
I know he doesn’t rebound as well as you’d like, and he doesn’t show much passion. But the guy can finish — in the third quarter, he caught a pass in transition, beat Josh Smith baseline and dunked it with two hands — and he’s brings a much-needed athleticism to the front line and he can block shots.
Maybe he’s not the PF of the future. Maybe he is. The point is that the Warriors won’t get an accurate assessment with him playing just over a quarter a night.

* I think Marco Belinelli is close to solidifying himself as my back-up shooting guard (in my little utopic world). Actually, in the most ideal situation, Azubuike is my back-up shooting guard. But Belinelli that third guard off the bench should get a nice chunk of minutes, and Belinelli is certainly competing for them. I still like Morrow because he can do more than shoot. But Belinelli has looked really good lately. The way he’s handling the ball, the way he’s passing. He looks so much better when he’s confident. You could tell he knew he wasn’t coming out. A few more of these nights and he’ll pass up Morrow on my depth chart. (He already has on Nellie’s)

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Pre-game Tidbits (at Atlanta)

* No Stephen Jackson. He re-aggravated his sprained left hand and will sit this one out. He did it catching a pass at shootaround, bending his middle and ring fingers back. Marco Belinelli started in his place.

* Marco isn’t the biggest suprise in the starting lineup. Rob Kurz started. Yes. The same dude who played 0 minutes against the Pacers starts against the Hawks. Nellie said he went small because the Pacers didn’t have their big lineup, with no Murphy and Roy Hibbert not playing. So, against an even more athletic lineup, he goes less athletic? Kurz opened the game guarding Josh Smith.
Someone please explain to me why Brandan Wright isn’t starting.

*I was asking around about the Felton rumor. It sounds to me like someone from the Bobcats was floating that out there. It doesn’t make any sense for the Warriors. After the conversations I’ve had, I still feel the same way. No way they do this deal. It makes no sense from no end.

*I talked to Anthony Randolph about Chris Broussard’s statements on First and 10 that Nellie told him to tell his agent to seek a trade because it isn’t working. Randolph’s response: no comment.
That tells me all I need to know.
Here is the link, for those who haven’t seen it:

http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?videoId=3781956

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Make Room for Monta

The Warriors have to trim their roster by tomorrow to make room for Monta Ellis, who is coming off the suspended list after tonight’s Pacers game. The Warriors’ brass are trying now to make a deal, but the clock is ticking. Chances are they may have to just cut someone.
So, here are the options:

PG Marcus Williams – I’ve been told by a source close to Williams that a buyout is “not going to happen.” So that means waiving him would require that the Warriors’ eat all of the $1.26 million he’s due. I seriously doubt that. Not to mention the conditional pick they gave up for him. He’ll be sticking around unless the Warriors lump him into a trade.

DeMarcus Nelson – Talk to him before the game. He seems to believe he’s sticking around. And not just on the roster, but with the team instead of going back to the Bakersfield Jam. Plus, dropping him would be a bad move, IMHO. They got a find in Nelson. He’s cheap. He can play. He brings something they don’t have (defense). He’s one of those guys who will make you regret dropping him.

Richard Hendrix – This is my choice. Not because he’s a bad guy or anything, but you have no use for him. He’s not that good right now, and there is no use waiting on him. The Warriors have their bruising big man for the bruisers of the world, Ronny Turiaf, and you see how much he plays. I know he’s a second-round pick, but those players are a dime a dozen. Plus, he’s on a non-guaranteed contract. So they can cut him and won’t even have to pay the full year’s salary, which was already the league minimum.

Anthony Morrow – He, too, is on a non-guaranteed minimum contract. Because of that, he makes the list. I say keep him for the same reasons they should keep DeMarcus.

Rob Kurz – Almost forgot about him (thanks, fellas). He’s not going anywhere. I know I’ve been critical of him, but I don’t think he should go anywhere. He’s a nice player with some potential. Most important, he has the most important supporter in the franchise: Don Nelson.

C.J. Watson – OK, obviously the list is done. He shouldn’t even be on it.

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Pregame Tid Bits (at Indy)

It would be nice if I could get pre-game info online before the game actually starts, right?

* So Marco Belinelli is the flavor of the week. He is starting in place of C.J. Watson, who is attending his uncle’s funeral. As a result, Jackson (or Azubuike, take your pick) was playing small forward. This ploy doesn’t hurt so much tonight because the Pacers were small. Troy Murphy wasn’t in the arena. They started with Danny Granger at small forward.

* Nellie’s first sub have was Ronny Turiaf. He came in for Andris. Nellie is addicted to small ball. So, when teams go with a big lineup, the Warriors counter with the small, make the big guys run. When opponents go small, the Warriors go … small? Seems like with Murphy out and Jeff Foster the only big, the Warriors should be playing Ronny and Biedrins together. Then, maybe, the Pacers wouldn’t have 5 offensive rebounds in the first seven minutes of the game.

* Jackson still gets boos in Indiana. They booed him when his name was introduceed, then when he scored.

*

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Post-game TidBits (at Denver)

Seriously, this is painful to watch. They can’t even stay in the game against good teams. A 12-point deficit is a moral victory. Denver was showing out Saturday. They knew they were going to school the Warriors. Remember Golden State was a team opponent’s feared last season? Well, the Warriors are already that team that opponents lick their chops for. Denver’s got a crazy six-game stretch coming up, and they viewed this game as the tune up.

* Finally, Jamal Crawford started playing. Though he had nine points in the first quarter, most of his damage came when the game was out of hand. Still, 25 points on 11 of 19 shooting might be what he needs to get into a rhythm. I don’t think the Warriors can afford to have him trying to fit in anymore. With Jax struggling to hit the side of a barn and Maggette out, the Warriors need offense more than a facilitator.

*Speaking of Jackson, he was awful tonight. He was 1-for-13 from the field, missing his first eight and last four. That makes him 10-for-50 from the field (20 percent) over the last three games.
He said it isn’t his hand bothering him.
“I don’t make excuses. I’m just missing shots. My hand ain’t got nothing to do with it. I’ve played hurt so much, I can’t blame it on my hand. I’ve got to get in the gym, put in some more work on my shot and knock them down.”
Crawford chimed in to disagree.
“His hand is bothering him, he just won’t say it. I see him every day.”
Even worse than Jax offense was his defense. The Warriors’ closest thing to a stopper didn’t try hard at all. Is he afraid to hurt his hand or has he gone into the tank, frustrated with all the losing?

* Kelenna Azubuike had 4 assists, tying his season high. That’s eight in two games. Looks like the ball movement emphasis is hitting home.