Toney Douglas played college ball in the vaunted ACC and cut his NBA teeth playing home games at Madison Square Garden. And he makes his living on the defensive end of the court. So he knows something about intensity.
His comments about Warriors practices, following Day 3 of training camp on Monday, comes with that context.
“Oh yeah. Every possession,” said Douglas, who signed with the Warriors in July to back-up Stephen Curry. “This is a different level. … We’re so deep. We have like 12 guys who could play. Blue team against white team, and we go at each other We make it fun and we make each other better.”
Coach Mark Jackson said being two deep at every possession, with some capable talent at the end of the bench, has made for some competitive practices. The drop off in talent on the depth chart is minimal enough to force the best players to go hard, yet the gap is wide enough to make the reserves have to step it up to earn minutes.
You better believe Curry has his hands full in practice, either being hounded by the pesky Douglas or trying to get around the long and athletic Kent Bazemore. Veteran center Jermaine O’Neal described going up against starting center Andrew Bogut as “a wrestling match.”
Forward David Lee and Marreese Speights, former Florida Gators, are buddies with a history of going at each other, and Speights has the skills to make Lee look bad if he doesn’t bring it. Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes are both having to contend with the All-NBA-caliber defense of Andre Iguodala.
And you know whoever second-year work horse Draymond Green gets matched up with is getting the business.
“We were an extremely hard working team in the past, and we’re continuing that,” Jackson said. “The difference right now is probably the battles at every position. … I think that’s what stands out the most. Last year we had young guys facing Bogut or David. … This year, there are big live bodies that are really competing and attacking one another.”
Andrew Bogut has lost about 15 to 18 pounds. Draymond Green shed about 20. David Lee is now looking like he should be standing in front of Abercrombie & Fitch. Jermaine O’Neal is hardly looking like a guy entering his 18th season.
Clearly, the Warriors took advantage of the offseason. The improved conditioning has already impacted training camp. The pace is faster. The energy is high.
“They are in shape,” coach Mark Jackson said, “and now its just a question of developing chemistry and a sense of what we are trying to do on both ends of the court.”
He wants the Warriors to play at an even faster pace now that all are healthy and his big men are conditioned to run. Jackson said he isn’t content with just going small to pick up the pace. But he wants to run even with his big men in the game.
Jackson said since his guys – most of whom have been working out in Oakland since early September – came to camp in shape, he doesn’t have to worry about that. He said there’s no need to go “White Shadow” on them and have them running lines.
Instead, Jackson has already begun diving into the playbook.
By Marcus Thompson II
OAKLAND — It might’ve taken all the defibrillators in the Bay Area to revive the nearly 20,000 fans at Oracle Arena whose hearts stopped Thursday.
Golden State nearly squandered an 18-point lead, and another star-like performance from point guard Stephen Curry — who changed the tide of the game with another big third quarter before his home crowd. But in the end, after a compilation of turnovers, guard Jarrett Jack made a pair of free throws in the final seconds to seal the 92-88 win over the Denver Nuggets, clinching the riveting first-round upset, 4-2.
The sixth-seeded Warriors advance to the second round against the No. 2 San Antonio Spurs. Game 1 is Monday in Texas.
“When we were down in the first half,” coach Mark Jackson said. “I pulled him aside and said, ‘There’s going to be a point in this game where you’re going to take over because you’re the best player on the floor. And what will happen is everybody else will follow you. And sure enough …”
Golden State did exactly what it wanted to do: slow down the NBA’s best transition team. Only problem with that was that put it put Andre Miller in play.
Golden State was on the verge of stealing Game 1, despite a subpar performance from Stephen Curry and an injury to David Lee. But Miller broke their hearts with a driving layup with 1.2 seconds left, handing the Warriors a 97-95 defeat, souring an otherwise gutsy performance.
JARRETT JACK: “We’re not into moral victories. In a simple phrase, we played good enough to lose.”
The Warriors’ defense contained speedy Denver point guard Ty Lawson and silenced forward Andre Iguodala, holding the Nuggets 11 points below their average. But Golden State couldn’t come up with an answer for Miller. He scored 18 of Denver’s 26 fourth-quarter points and finished with a game-high 28, taking advantage of the one-on-one defense he faced.
It was a dramatic end and a riveting start to a series most expect to be highly entertaining. The Warriors, even with the loss, head into Game 2 on Tuesday with plenty reasons to be confident.
“I thought we did some things very well,” coach Mark Jackson said. “What I told my team was that nobody came in here thinking that we were going to sweep the Denver Nuggets. You have tow in four games to advance and you can’t act like it’s over. So take the blow and be ready to make adjustments and respond.”
More on the Game 1 loss …
Game 1 of the Warriors-Nuggets playoff series tips off Saturday afternoon. It figures to be the epitome of Western Conference basketball. Both teams have skill and depth, which will make for an interesting chess match between Denver coach George Karl and Golden State’s Mark Jackson.
Neither team has the A-list star to carry them to the next round. That puts added emphasis on the plethora of interesting match-ups featured in this series. Throw in some injury issues, experience gaps and crazy home courts, and you’ve got the makings of something riveting.
Here’s a look at the key match-ups in the series and who has the advantage.