Monta Ellis on former coach Keith Smart: “The relationship we built was
more of a father and son.”
Tonight is a pretty important preseason game for the Warriors. So much to figure out. So many firsts. So many ducks to get in order. It will be Mark Jackson’s first time as a head coach in a game situation and the first time his staff works together. Since there are only two preseason games, they will have to analyze the key guys and how they are meshing, get a live look at the system (especially on defense) how well the players are grasping it, AND check out these training camp invites to see if anyone can make the team.
A lot will be going on tonight at Oracle Arena. Here’s a few things to keep your eyes on:
WATCH FOR KWAME BROWN’S SUIT GAME: He will not play tonight. Mark Jackson is holding out Brown because his conditioning is not there.
JACKSON: “He’s been working extremely hard. I am pleased with where he is and his work ethic. It just doesn’t make any sense to put him out there right now. But he’s working extremely hard. It it were Game 7, he would be playing. But it’s not Game 7.”
Brown has just one practice under his belt since signing with the Warriors on Wednesday. Jackson said he will play it by feel to determine if Brown will play in Tuesday’s preseason finale at Sacramento.
JACKSON: “He wants to play. It has nothing to do with him. It’s me, putting my foot on the breaks, making sure he’s ready and right.”
WATCH FOR THE WARRIORS’ GUARDS DEFENSIVE EFFORT: The Kings boast a perimeter of backcourt of Tyreke Evans, Marcus Thornton and rookie Jimmer Fredette. This is a good chance for Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry to show what their commitment to defense.
ELLIS: “Biggest thing is defense. … As long as we’ve got that mindset. We’ll be alright. I’m looking for us to do what we’ve been taught in training camp – talk, get after it on defense,
play Warriors basketball.”
Tyreke will challenge Ellis because he’s a big body who is relentless when he decides to get to the basket. He’s challenge Warriors’ guards desire to sacrifice their body and maybe their offense (staying in front of Evans can be punishing and draining).
Thornton has killed the Warriors’ defense in the past. He’s a pretty diverse scorer who can stick the midrange or get into the lane, which will challenge their discipline and decision making.
And Jimmer, if he’s the shooter everyone expects, will test the Warriors’ ability and willingness to close out shooters.
JACKSON: “They’re talented guys. This is a different day for Golden State Warriors. We will make adjustments, but initially we’re going in with the mindset I’m going to win my position. I’m going to compete. I’m going to get after it. I’m going to do whatever it takes. And if necessary, I will trust that I will make proper decisions and get help early and often.”
WATCH FOR JACKSON’S ROTATIONS: At shootaround Saturday, he wouldn’t reveal his ideas for what he figures on the rotation. But I’ll be looking for several questions to be answered:
* How much will he lean on Ellis, Curry and Wright for minutes? Throw Lee into that mix, too.
* What’s he going to do with Klay Thompson? Stick him in the corner, run him off some screens, put the ball in his hands?
* Where does Ekpe Udoh fit in. If he plays mostly at center, that will make for some interesting times when Kwame Brown comes back. If he puts Ekpe at PF, you gotta wonder what kind of minutes he’s going to get. If David Lee gets 35 per night (he averaged 36.1 last season0, that means a minutes decline for last year’s first-round pick.
WATCH FOR BIEDRINS’ PRODUCTION: He’s been really good in practice. It won’t mean much if he does well. But if he doesn’t, it could be an early blow to his confidence. With his history, that may not be a good thing.
WATCH FOR CHARLES JENKINS’ PLAY: Since Ish Smith, who was expected to arrive today, hasn’t practiced with the Warriors, I don’t expect him to play. That means the rookie Jenkins is the only other PG available. I seriously doubt Jackson runs Curry out there for 40 minutes, so we should get a good look at Jenkins and if he’s ready for this pretty important role. He could go a long way to solidifying his spot as the backup PG with a good showing tonight. If not, Curry’s buddy Smith, also from North Carolina, could give us a competition to follow.