Before we get to previewing tonight’s game against Baron Davis and the Clippers, I wanted to look back at Wednesday’s win against the Grizzlies one last time to dissect some of the things that didn’t go so well. There wasn’t a lot to criticize Wednesday because the Warriors played a very good game, but there were some issues that, uncorrected, could cause some problems in future games.
Anthony Randolph: My concern with Randolph is two-fold. One, I didn’t like to see Randolph play only seven minutes, especially when Andris Biedrins was on the bench much of the game with foul trouble. Most of Biedrins’ minutes went to veteran center Mikki Moore, and Moore played well enough, providing some good defense against Marc Gasol and pulling down four rebounds in 21 minutes. Don Nelson has said that Randolph is the team’s backup center, but he will only play against backup centers, and that was the apparent reason for Randolph’s 7-minute stint Wednesday. I assume the thinking was that Randolph couldn’t have defended Gasol, who is much bigger than Randolph. But that kind of thinking doesn’t make any sense coming from Nelson. When has Nelson ever cared about size mismatches? He has no problem giving up size at power forward (Stephen Jackson and Corey Maggette), small forward (Kelenna Azubuike) and shooting guard (Monta Ellis), but all of a sudden it’s a problem with Randolph? To me, that seems very inconsistent.
A I said before, my issue with Randolph is double-sided. True, I don’t like Nelson’s inconsistency in the way he’s using Randolph. But I also don’t think Randolph was deserving of more minutes in Wednesday’s game. In the few minutes he played, he didn’t play that well. He had four points and three rebounds, but also turned the ball over twice and had three fouls. Beyond the stats, he looked out of control and appeared to be lacking confidence on the court. He plays with a lot of energy, but I’ve noticed this season, especially Wednesday, that he doesn’t play with controlled energy. I don’t know if that’s because he’s trying to do too much when he is on the court, hoping to show that he deserves more minutes. Maybe he’s out of sorts because he has no idea when he’ll be going in the game and when he’ll be pulled and put back on the bench. That could all explain it. But for now, Randolph is not looking like the player we saw at the end of last season or during the summer.
Looking at the Clippers game tonight, if Biedrins doesn’t play, it will be interesting to see how many minutes Randolph plays at center, and if he can handle some tough matchups against Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby.
Rebounding: This was a problem in the Grizzlies game, and according to Don Nelson (and common sense), it will probably be a problem the entire season. The Grizzlies outrebounded the Warriors, 46-35, including 13 offensive rebounds. The Warriors will probably be at a size disadvantage in most games this season. That can be a benefit to the Warriors, because what they give up in size, they make up for in speed and shooting ability. But I expect rebounds to be an issue for most of this season, barring a shift in philosophy from Nelson (by this I mean Nelson could probably put together a traditional lineup that would hold its own in rebounds, but I don’t think he’ll ever do this, and considering the personnel on this Warriors roster, I don’t think it would be the right move anyway). The most significant way this could hurt the Warriors is in offensive rebounds and second-chance points.
One thing to note about Wednesday’s performance is that Golden State improved its rebounding efforts after the first quarter. The Grizzlies had a 21-9 rebounding advantage after the first quarter, which mean that for quarters 2-through-4, the Warriors actually outrebounded Memphis, 26-25.
Small Starting Five: I thought the Warriors’ new starting lineup (Stephen Curry and Ellis at the guards, Azubuike and Jackson at the forwards, and Biedrins at center) worked as long as Biedrins was in the lineup. His presence allowed the Warriors to go small at most of the other positions and still succeed. True, the Grizzlies had a 26-13 score advantage in the first quarter against the small lineup, but the problems didn’t really begin until Biedrins picked up his third foul with about six minutes left in the first quarter. When he went to the bench, the Warriors led 13-12. The Grizzlies promptly went on a 14-0 run to take the 26-13 lead.
It will be interesting to see if the Warriors can make this small lineup work without Biedrins’ rebounding and defense. Nelson said he’s going to stick with the lineup, let’s see how it fares against the Clippers tonight.
I don’t want to harp on him too much, because it was just one game, but Azubuike did not play well in his first start at small forward this season. He was a non-factor on offense (he was expected to help spread opposing defenses with his 3-point shooting but only took one 3-pointer and missed it), and was pretty terrible on defense. Rudy Gay dominated that matchup. Azubuike has an easier matchup tonight against Rasual Butler, so hopefully we’ll see improvement there.
You can read the Associated Press’ preview of tonight’s game, which is primarily about Anthony Morrow, here.
This is a good statistical head-to-head analysis, looking at the Warriors and Clippers. Read it here.