What to Watch For – Game #5

Monta is back. Curry is playing. All is back to normal in Warriors world.

Golden State won just 10 games on the road last year. They NEED to get off on the right foot on the road, which is possible against a struggling Phoenix squad.

Here are a few things to watch for today.

Team’s chemistry: The Warriors had an opportunity to bond on their first team flight. After the game, they are going to the Fiesta Bowl together (to watch Standord lose to Oklahoma State). Nothing like the road to build team camaraderie.

Ellis no doubt brings a certain spirit and energy to the team. His presence also takes some pressure off the back-ups, who won’t have to save the day and can get back into their usual roles. 

Let’s see if that translates into a high-energy, in sync squad.


The misery of Steve Nash: Was it just two years ago they made the West Finals. Now, Phoenix is looking awful – the result of not trading Steve Nash. The poor guy deserves a shot at winning it all. Once the Suns knew they were rebuilding they should have moved him. Instead, the guy who made that franchise is an aging Robin with no Batman to play with.

See if Nash has anything left, especially any edge. If he doesn’t, the Warriors should win easily.


Grant Hill defending Monta: The Suns are a tough match-up for Ellis because they use SF Grant Hill to defend him. Hill is long (6-foot-9), which allows him to contest Monta’s shots even when Ellis has a step. He is also strong enough to body up on Monta.

Hill is 39, so Ellis should have an advantage with quickness and durability. I thought in the past Golden State should help Monta by running him off screens and getting him moving off the ball, even leaking him out and pushing it up to him. Isolating him in a confined area against the bigger Hill wasn’t working so well.

Pay attention to how well or not well Ellis scores against Hill and how Jackson adjusts either way.


Who David Lee defends: The Warriors put Lee on Spencer Hawes on Saturday. Hawes is more of a high-post center and the Warriors didn’t want Andris Biedrins and Kwame Brown being pulled out of the key by an outside-shooting big. It didn’t work all that well. Elton Brand was contained but Hawes hurt the Warriors a bit. Lee and back-up Ekpe Udoh, had a tough time covering Hawes, who hit a few critical jumpers.

Phoenix poses a similar problem with Gortat and Channing Frye. Frye is N outside shooter who usually hurts the Warriors with the 3 ball. Lee will have to do a much better job closing out on Frye, who at 2-for-16 from 3 is in desperate need of a breakout game.

In the past, the Warriors have even put a SF on Frye so they can have the speed to contest his 3-pointers.


The scoring: These two teams used to be elite offenses. So far this year, they are far from themselves.

Phoenix is averaging 89.3 points per game. Golden State is at 89. That ranks for 24th and 25th, respectively.

Golden State’s 42.2 percent shooting is 20th in the NBA. The Suns’ 40.7 percent shooting is 24th.

And remember his these teams used to live on the 3-pointer? Not anymore.

The Warriors are shooting 27.5 percent from three, 24th in the NBA, and Phoenix is shooting 25.9 percent, 27th in the NBA.

Marcus Thompson