The first thing to watch for is obvious:
How long before Andris Biedrins is pulled out the game?
Warriors coach Mark Jackson announced today that he would start Biedrins tonight against Phoenix. Ekpe Udoh, who started and was impressive in Monday’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers, will stay in his role as the back-up. That is disappointing news to many a Warriors fan, who were drooling at the sight of a productive center.
Jackson has his reasons for starting Biedrins – keep the second-unit strong, Biedrins is a better rebounder, Biedrins is mentally fragile and may go in the tank if he’s benched. But the fact that it was a debate means that he really believes Ekpe is the better player. Jackson has adamantly stuck by his starters all season, even when a couple were struggling mightily early. He wouldn’t even consider sitting a starter unless it was a no-brainer.
So, what time will Biedrins come out? It’s usually around the six-minute mark. It may be sooner tonight, especially if Gortat gets going early for Phoenix.
Grant Hill vs. Monta Ellis: Grant Hill really does a number on Monta, especially in Phoenix. In Ellis’ last four games at the Suns, he’s averaged 13.3 points on 33.9 percent shooting. The taller, longer, stronger Hill has just the right combination of size, athleticism and intelligence to make it rough for Monta.
In his last nine games against Phoenix, Monta has scored 20 or more four times, all at Oracle. This season, in two games against the Suns, Monta has totaled 36 points on 11-for-36 shooting.
Can the Warriors figure out how to get Monta going against Hill? The trick is to get in transition. A half-court setting plays to Ellis’ strengths. Another thing the Warriors should do more of, and not just against Phoenix, is create offense for Monta without the ball in his hands. And when he gets it, he shouldn’t hold it, but work off the ball to create the opening so when he gets it, he fires it.
Just my two cents.