What to Watch For – Game 13

UPDATE: Anthony Parker is out and Boobie Gibson is starting at shooting guard. That makes scoring easier for Monta Ellis.

Warriors point guard Stephen Curry did not participate in shootaround. I suspect that makes him officially out for tonight’s game in Cleveland. Judging by the response from readers/Twitter followers, that’s a good thing. Curry needs the rest. But that could work to the Warriors advantage in this game.

No Curry means Charles Jenkins will likely start on Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving. I gotta believe if it were Curry starting, Monta Ellis would start on Kyrie, allowing Curry to ease into action by defending Anthony Parker, who is mostly a spot up shooter. But Mark Jackson can afford to devote Charles Jenkins to the task of sticking with Irving. That saves Ellis, who will be matched up against Parker.

Ellis will need his energy offensively. Not just because the Warriors need him to be on his game against a pretty good Cavs team. But also because Ellis will likely be defended by Parker, who is bigger and longer – a combination that usually gives Ellis some difficulty.  After Jenkins, Nate Robinson can chase Kyrie around. And if he dogs the Warriors’ too much, maybe Ellis slides over. But the benefit of Jenkins is that he plays limited minutes and he is not a key cog on offense. He can focus on making it difficult for Kyrie.

Here are some other things to watch for tonigh.


The battle on the glass: It looks like Anderson Varejao is playing center now for the Cavaliers (with Antawn Jamison at PF and Omri Casspi at SF). His energy and hustle earns him 11.3 rebounds per game, which is fourth in the NBA. As a result, Cleveland is a pretty good rebounding team. On average, the Cavaliers outrebound opponents by 2.25 rebounds per game, good for 5th in the NBA.

Golden State is 19th inthe NBA (-0.92 rebound differential). The Warriors are a much better team when they outrebound their opponents, which could be tough to do tonight.


Nate Robinson’s spark: He’s scored in double figures his last five games with the Warriors. But what goes unnoticed is his playmaking for others. Robinson has 23 assists next to eight turnovers. I’d venture to say many of those assists are finding people on the break. Robinson is most responsible for the Warriors’ occasional success at playing uptempo.

The Warriors will need him to create action and push the pace. The Warriors are not yet good enough at the grind it out games. But they are good when the tempo is higher. Robinson has done a good job at picking up the tempo, finding guys and taking care of the ball.


David Lee’s aggressiveness on offense: His last four games he’s averaging 23.5 points on 64 percent shooting. Granted, he hasn’t been doing it against great defenders. But Lee’s production out of the post gives the Warriors the desperate balance they need. Tonight, he won’t face a premiere defender (assuming Byron Scott won’t put Varejao on Lee, leaving Jamison on Biedrins). That should equal another big night.

Lee gets criticized for not being a winning player. But you can’t be mad at him for taking advantage when he has someone who can’t defend him (such as Orlando’s Ryan Anderson and Detroit’s Jonas Jerebko). If Lee can produce enough offense to make other teams focus on stopping him, he’s doing his job. For now, that’s what they need from him.

Marcus Thompson