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Nellie on his team: “They’re too soft. Gotta toughen up.”

Nelson went after his team today, turning what was initially scheduled to be an off day into a grueling two-hour practice. They ran a bunch of defensive drills, including taxing one-on-one post-up defense drills (one player would have to guard each player in the group consecutively, one-on-one in the post). They even ran a three-man weave.

The players were visibly feeling it. A few balls were slammed, a few expletives were shouted in frustration. Corey Maggette and Monta Ellis got the night off. Maggette showed up on the court halfway through practice and sat on the side and watched. Ellis apparently came and lifted weights, but stayed in the locker room area.

Nelson was so disappointed in the effort during Saturday’s loss at Portland that he put it on them at practice. During practice, he went off on them about his disappointment, two players told me. He shared some of his frustrations during his post-practice interview. Here is the transcript:

So, what made you torture the team today?

They deserved it.

You hadn’t planned on practicing today, right?

No, I hadn’t. We needed to get some work done.

Mostly on the defensive side?

100 percent

Feel good about what you saw?

We needed to do what we did. There was some slippage. Only had 7, 8 guys and it was hard to do much.

It looked like Curry took a pounding. That’s good for him, right?

He’s gotta toughen up. They all do. They’re too soft. Gotta toughen up. Our centers are back now, time for them to step up.

Some guys showed some frustration today. You think it’s time for somebody to get mad?

I don’t call that having any benefit on anything. Kicking the ball or something like that. I need somebody to do something on the floor positive.

Did you see something good out of Andris?

I thought the bigs needed the work that they did on both ends. We worked them hard. You know, it’s time for them to know that they’re not going to get re-injured. It’s time now to put the injury behind them and start playing up to their potential. We’ve given them a few days, a few games. I don’t need it to take two weeks to get it done. They need to step up and do it now.

Can having another big body leaning on you help you realize you’re not going to get hurt again?

Oh yeah. They’ve got to go against big guys. Luckily the guy that got hurt tonight was my fourth guy. Or today. Hunter sprained his ankle.

Monta and Corey got the day off just because of minutes?

Yeah. I didn’t need to get them banged up today because we were going to have a pretty tough practice. I didn’t want to get them dinged up after playing all those minutes.

Will practice be different tomorrow? Will it be more like a walk through?

We’re going to practice. We’ll do that the next day, the walk through.

Did Ronny take a step back?

It was a hard game to play on the match-ups. For whatever reason I thought I could play one big, but they didn’t seem to get much done. So, anyway, I went with Randolph in that spot. I thought he was the most effective big that I had. They should’ve had more of an influence on the game as far as I was concerned.

You talked about smalls after the game. Did you know you needed more from the bigs last night or you saw something on film?

I did. I thought we could play one big the whole game and have more of an influence on the game. Other than the first quarter, nobody had a game after that. Not blaming anybody but we need better performances out of everybody.

Randolph got matched up on Andre Miller a couple times. Impressed by Randolph’s defensive versatility?

If I had it to do over again, I would’ve played a big on him. Not necessarily Randolph. I thought I should’ve probably played Corey on him to start with. It would take one post-up guy away. Our smalls couldn’t guard him. And then Radmanovic, although he’s got an Achilles Tendon, I don’t know how that’s effecting him, was another guy that could’ve guarded him. I put Morrow on him, but he just couldn’t handle him.

Ronny and Andris playing timid?

Timid on the offensive end. Ronny’s been very good on the defensive end. They worked both ends. It was a defensive day, but you’ve got to have an offensive day against the defense, too. So I really liked what the big guys were doing.

For the most part, the players agreed that the practice was something they needed. But they stopped short of calling themselves soft.

WATSON: “I guess this was good for us. We needed it. We had a bad game, but it showed us we’ve got a lot of stuff we need to work on. So we’ve just got to get better defensively as a team and try to make some shots on offense, too. I don’t think (we were soft). Just that one game, we had a bad — it wasn’t really a bad defensive game because we were still in the game late and had a chance to win. We just had some open shots that we missed and stuff like that. But we’ve been playing pretty hard I think. Not really soft. We weren’t letting people push around, so I don’t think we were playing soft at all.”

MAGGETTE: “Just gotta just try to play as hard as you can and play aggressive. I’m just used to doing it. I know some guys not used to doing it and coach probably would call them out. I think in the beginning of the game its how your intensity starts off that really prepares you throughout the whole game. I think each time I step on the floor, I just want to be as aggressive as possible. We’ve got guys, I think all our guys do that. We just had a night like last night that we didn’t do it.”

 

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After the game Saturday, Nelson’s venom was reserved for the guards. Brandon Roy and Andre Miller had their way with the Warriors guards. Roy posted up Ellis easily. Miller went at Steph Curry and Anthony Morrow every time. Both are veteran offensive beasts in the post, as perimeter players go.

Nellie started small, with Maggette at PF instead of Randolph. Nate McMillan started the Blazers off with a traditional frontline, though they weren’t formidable players (C-Juwan Howard, PF-Jeff Penderfgraph, SF-Martell Webster). Then McMillan went small, bringing in guard Jerryd Bayless, moving Roy to SF and Webster to PF.

So it was Portland’s small lineup vs. the Warriors small lineup. It was no contest. The Warriors had 41 points on 68.2 percent in the first quarter. The rest of the way, they totaled 48 points on 33.3 percent shooting. Conversely, the Blazers had 31 points on 47.1 percent shooting in the first quarter. The rest of the way, they scored 74 points on 49.1 percent shooting.

NELLIE: “When they went small and matched up with us, their smalls beat our smalls. They were better than us, they were more aggressive. I love the way we started. (We just played) poor defensively, they just did what they wanted to us. They posted us when they wanted, penetrated when they wanted, they just made us pay whatever price they wanted.”

Nellie didn’t follow by going big against the Blazers small lineup, which was clearly getting the better of the Warriors. He went a little bigger to start the third, replacing Curry with Radmanovic in the lineup. Curry had four fouls. But he didn’t give much time to lineups featuring Randolph and Biedrins or Biedrins and Turiaf.

NELLIE (on what changed after first quarter): “That’s what I was asking the assistants. We didn’t do anything different; we didn’t call any different plays. I think it was a foul-prone first half that maybe got our guys off our rhythm or whatever. They called a lot of fouls on us, but that usually works itself out in the second half. We never responded; never gave ourselves a chance in the second half.”

Nelson felt like his smalls should have played better and blamed it on them not competing. Both guard Anthony Morrow and Stephen Curry respectfully disagreed, but acknowledged they didn’t execute.

CURRY: “I feel like we competed. I think fouls kind of took us out of our game early. We tried to be aggressive. They tried to go to the post  every possession and tried to exploit our size. I feel like for the most part we did a good job, they just made more plays than we would’ve liked. I try to compete every night. But sometimes it may look like your not because of how good the offense is against you.”

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that Monta Ellis needs more help. And Corey Maggette’s 20-plus isn’t enough support.

ELLIS: “It wasn’t good enough; I can’t do it by myself. I can’t win a game by myself. It just wasn’t there tonight. Nobody played up to their ability.”

Marcus Thompson