The Warriors coaches and players are already looking forward to Sunday’s game against the Sacramento Kings, and after Friday night’s debacle against the L.A. Clippers, that might be the best decision for everybody who cares about the Warriors.
There are 82 games in the NBA, which means that even after a game like Friday, when every thing that could go wrong did go wrong, you can pick yourself up (players and fans, alike) and know that you have another game right around the corner. The Warriors missed out on a chance Friday to establish a little positive momentum early in the season, but they have today to practice and work on some of the things that they’re doing wrong, and hopefully put forth a better effort Sunday.
There’s not a lot of sense in breaking down Friday’s game too much, because there are very few positives. There were some things that went wrong that are correctable, and unfortunately, some that might not be. We’ll take a look at one from each side.
SOMETHING THE WARRIORS CAN CORRECT
Errant shooting: Obviously, the Warriors are a better offensive team than they demonstrated Friday. They made 29 of 84 shots (34.5 percent) and 7 of 22 3-pointers (31.8 percent). They were OK from the free-throw line (25 for 33). It’s not likely that the Warriors shoot this poorly again in a game this season.
I don’t think the Warriors’ ball movement was great, certainly not as good as it was Wednesday against the Grizzlies. But it would be wrong to suggest that the Warriors played one-on-one the whole game and that’s why the offense wasn’t working. The Warriors were moving the ball at times, especially in the first half, but they weren’t doing so effectively, either by turning the ball over or missing an open shot at the end of the rotation. The Clippers decided to really pack their defense in the lane, which cut off a lot of deep dribble penetration, and the Warriors were forced, probably by the Clippers’ design, to beat L.A. with the jumper. The Warriors definitely had some open looks, but they missed a lot of shots they will normally make.
If the Warriors cut their turnovers (19 is far too many) and hit a few more of their shots, maybe the game doesn’t get so out of hand. The poor shooting was the main culprit in this loss.
SOMETHING THAT MAY NOT BE CORRECTABLE
The Warriors’ size disadvantage: The absence of Andris Biedrins and Ronny Turiaf hurt in this game. It wasn’t as glaring a weakness as was the Warriors’ poor shooting, but trying to get by with a center tandem of Mikki Moore (not really a center) and Anthony Randolph (definitely not a center) is going to kill the Warriors night after night. If Biedrins and Turiaf don’t get healthy soon, the Warriors will really suffer when they play against big front lines.
Clippers center Chris Kaman, at 7-foot and 265 pounds, had his way with whatever defender (or two) the Warriors threw at him, collecting 22 points and 9 rebounds without very much difficulty. Power forward Marcus Camby didn’t do much on offense (he only took two shots), but he gobbled up rebounds (12) and was a terror on defense (4 steals, 2 blocks).
It wasn’t limited to the center position, either. Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis, who both played poor on offense, were even worse defensively. Baron Davis and Eric Gordon, the Clippers’ starting guards, don’t have a sizeable height advantage against the Warriors, as Davis is 6-3 and Gordon 6-4. But they are both well-built guards, weighing in at 215 pounds, and were able to use their bulk and quickness to bother the Warriors guards all game. Curry was especially ineffective. It was admirable to see him try and play so physical against Gordon, but he did so recklessly at times and it got him in quick foul trouble.
I guess I’m at a loss to see how this is a problem the Warriors can overcome. This team rebounds fairly well for its lack of size, which is a bonus, and when they make their shots like they did against Memphis, their lack of size doesn’t seem like such a problem. But playing with such a small lineup means the Warriors will be living and dying by the jumper (inside and outside the 3-point line) most of the season, and that’s a dicey proposition.
Ultimately, it comes down to this. It’s easy to get too high after a win like the one against the Grizzlies, and too down after a loss like we saw against the Clippers. The Warriors weren’t suddenly world beaters because of the way they played against Memphis. Likewise, the team isn’t in an inoperable funk because of their performance against L.A.. The Warriors have another game Sunday against the Kings, a mediocre team. It’s a good game for the Warriors to try and correct the problems evidenced in Friday’s loss and see if they can get some positive momentum back on their side.