Mark Jackson is all about not panicking.
Yeah, they’ve lost two straight, killing the buzz created by back-to-back wins over the Clippers and Thunder. But, in the end, Jackson and the Warriors are trying to keep their perspective.
It’s two games on the road against good teams. Going .500 on a road trip is not bad, and they still have the ability to do that. As long as they play “Warriors basketball,” they’ll be fine.
That’s what they’re telling themselves.
JACKSON: “We have to realize what we have to do to get it back. We’ve got a group of guys who understand who we are … We have a team that has a history of bouncing back. We’ll do that. But at the same time, its my job as a coach to basically bring it out of guys.”
Safe to say the Warriors need a win at Toronto, and at Cleveland. But they’ve avoided an elongated losing streak this season by not “overreacting.” Don’t expect that mindset to change now.
STEPHEN CURRY: “We’re not panicking at all. We beat two good teams before this little slide. … We just have to get back to how we were playing before we left Oracle — uptempo, physical on both ends and making big plays when they matter.”
More on Friday and Saturday’s losses … Yes, you get a two-for-one deal …
WRITER’S RANT:Jackson is sticking by his small lineup. At this point, it would be silly to expect him to do otherwise. And I get the logic there. Both Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins are offensive liabilities, and basketball is just hard going 4-on-5 on offense. Plus, Landry (who grabs 14.5 percent of the rebounds when he’s in the game) is rebounding better than Ezeli (14 percent).
I really can’t argue with Jackson’s small lineup anymore. I, mean, playoff-caliber basketball is just too much for Ezeli right now. He’s a back-up center at this point in his career. And Biedrins — who has a team best 18.5 rebound percentage and 97 defensive rating (meaning he allows 97 points for every 100 possessions he’s on the floor) — may not show up. I would like to see him on the court more, but it is certainly understandable if the coaching staff lacks faith in him.
But if the Warriors are going to go small, especially in crunch time, then they simply have to be better on offense — which for this team usually means Curry needs the ball in his hands.
I feel like I need to pause for station identification on this one, and make something clear up front. Jarrett Jack needs to be on the court. The Warriors are nowhere without him this year and his impact on this team is unquestionable.
The reason I say this is because so much of the battle of scoring is forcing the defense to react. You hear people all the time talking about taking what the defense gives them. That’s why being aggressive is so important because it forces the defense to react. Defensive reactions lead to defensive breakdowns/imperfections, which leads to high percentage shots. Down the stretch, that is especially vital down the street.
Curry, because he is a threat to do both, keeps defenses off-balance. Sometimes, they guard the free throw line, which opens up the paint. Sometimes defenses value protecting the paint, which opens up the outside shot. Sometimes they flat out overreact, opening up all kinds of stuff.
But down the stretch, when Curry plays off the ball, the Warriors become wildly predictable. You know exactly what they’re going to do. Double screens for Klay and Curry, have them curl off and keep running off screens until they get free. Jack gets it to one or the other.
That, or put the shooters out wide and run the pick-and-roll with Jack and Landry. The shooters keep the floor spread and, if the defense collapses, they get good looks.
It’s not bad offense. But we’re 40-plus games into the season. Defenses get better at defending it. Is it great offense when the defense knows it’s coming? No.
Plus, there is this caveat. If the defense stays glued to Curry, now your best offensive player is taking out of the mix on some of your most critical possessions.
The Jack-plus-two-shooters offense was working best when it was the changeup. But they go to it so much now that by end of the game, the defense is waiting for it. As a result, the Warriors are hitting scoring droughts at bad times against good defenses.
Jack can play some off the ball. Or, start the play with Curry at point and give it to Jack on the re-set, or vice versa.
I still contend Curry is less effective as a Reggie Miller type. What makes him a special offensive player is his manifold skill set. Everyone knows if you give him daylight, he’s going to hit you with a jumper. But if you just play his jumper, you open up his drive and his passing. When he’s off the ball, it’s really just a matter of defending his jumper. In the end, that’s not such a bad prospect for a defense. He’ll make some, sure. But if you play good defense, he’ll miss some. Crash the boards and the Warriors get one shot. You can live with those odds.
MVP: Harrison Barnes
It’s slim pickings the last two games, but Barnes wasn’t on the court long enough to blame. And he’s played just well enough to make you notice he is notice he is not in the games.
At Chicago, he missed all four of his shots in just over 21 minutes of action. But he had five rebounds, three steals and a steal. At Milwaukee, he left his mark early, throwing down a thunderous dunk as Ersan Ilyasova flew by. But he played just over 13 minutes Saturday, finishing with seven points and a steal.
Consider him the lesser of 10 evils.
MDP: David Lee
He just hasn’t looked himself since getting the All-Star nod. Part of it is the caliber of player he’s being guarded by. Lee has drawn two good defenders:Chicago’s Joakim Noah and Milwaukee’s Larry Sanders. Both are long, athletic and physical (usually traits that bother Lee).
Over the last two games, totaling about 73 minutes, Lee totaled 35 points on 12 of 33 shooting (36.4 percent). He rebounded well against Milwaukee (15), not so much against Chicago (6). But his blatant struggles with blocking led to numerous offensive rebounds. Though it’s clearly a team-wide debacle, when the Warriors are outrebounded by 27 boards over a two-game stretch it’s hard not to look at Lee first.
Mostly, though, he’s looked hesitant in the paint, like he’s looking for a foul instead of earning a basket, and like he’s overwhelmed. Perhaps being the Warriors’ “big man” most of the night is taking its toll.
TELLING STAT: The last two games, the Warriors have given up 38 offensive rebounds, 29 of those were grabbed by the starting frontlines of Chicago and Milwaukee — namely Noah (6), Boozer (5), Ilyasova (5), Sanders (5), Jimmy Butler (4) and Luc Mbah a Moute (4).
That’s a lot of offensive boards. Chicago wound up taking 10 more shots than Golden State, and Milwaukee took eight more. The Warriors have allowed 57 second-chance points over the last two games. The Bulls and Bucks were 24 of 42 shooting (57.1 percent) AFTER the Warriors’ defense got the stop but couldn’t secure the rebound.
YEAH, WHAT HE SAID: “We have to get back to who we are. We aren’t rebounding at the same level and it’s hurting us. It’s costing us ball games, and we have to find a way to get it back.” — Mark Jackson
SERIOUSLY?!: Barnes is like Vince Carter on this Warriors’ team. He drove baseline and before he took off, the bench was up expecting him to take off. He did.Milwaukee forward Ersan Ilyasova jumped, but then he must’ve had a quick glimpse of the Pekovic poster Barnes made early and ducked as he flew by. Barnes exploded for a one-hand tomahawk dunk that had even the Bucks fans at the Bradley Center buzzing.
Who would’ve thought this mid-range shooter from North Carolina would turnout to be a rim-rocker?
BEFORE YOU GO: Landry’s season-high 14 rebounds seems like the product of a new trend. He’s had double-digit rebounds in three of the last seven games. Before that stretch, he’d had four double-digit rebound games all season.