Following Monday night’s 146-105 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves, coach Don Nelson said this to the media: “We have to understand our two wins were against teams that were struggling. I wouldn’t make too much out of it.” He also took the time to praise the way his team played, but if one of the winningest coaches in the history of the NBA is telling us to take this performance in stride, I’ll do my best to grant his wish.
It was a great performance by the Warriors though, especially when you consider the way the team played in its last two games. Stephen Jackson said it best after the game, who said they needed this win because the last two games they were blown out by teams of the Warriors’ caliber. I thought that was an astute observation by Jackson (who was a star both on the court and in his interviews with the media Monday night). It wasn’t like the Warriors were outclassed and blown out by great teams with superior talent. They were blasted by the Kings and Clippers. Neither of those teams are good teams and for the Warriors to lose to them the way they did was a sad commentary on how out of touch this team was. That hasn’t all changed because of one great performance, but for one night, it was a nice change, and the hope is that the Warriors can build off this win and at least improve their level of play.
Here are some positive things to take from this game:
THIS TEAM HAS TALENT: Something else this performance proved is that the Warriors do have some talent on this roster. It was easy to forget that while watching the team get blown out in consecutive games, but the same talent that made me think prior to the season’s start that the Warriors could flirt with 40 wins this season, still exists on the roster. A lot of these guys can play.
They have a lot of weaknesses, especially when their primary big men are injured, but when they quit the one-on-one, selfish style of play and start sharing the ball and efforting on defense, it’s easier to notice the talent the Warriors can put on the court.
THE WARRIORS CAN PLAY DEFENSE: You obviously must consider the caliber of competition, as Minnesota is a truly horrible team, but it was nice to see the Warriors pressure a little bit on defense in Monday’s win.
The Warriors are small and will get blown away by most teams if they try to use a traditional defensive mindset. To succeed on defense, the Warriors have to extend their defense out past the 3-point line and apply as much perimeter pressure as possible. This is a gamble on defense, but it’s the Warriors’ best shot at success, and can accomplish some good things.
That kind of pressure defense will inevitably force turnovers, which helps the Warriors get more possessions, making up for the possessions they are losing to poor rebounding. In Monday’s game, the Warriors’ pressure defense forced 28 turnovers by Minnesota, which helped make up for the Timberwolves’ extra possessions created by 21 offensive rebounds. Another result of the pressure defense is it forces teams to get into their offensive sets later in the shot clock, which can mean lower-percentage shots with the shot clock winding down, which can impact a team’s field goal percentage. On Monday, the Warriors held the Timberwolves to 44.7 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from the 3-point line. It won’t work against all the teams, and the risk can backfire, but it’s something the Warriors must do to make up for their shortcomings on defense.
This will serve as part 1 of the recap of Monday’s game. I’ll check back later with more, including more thoughts on Stephen Jackson, Anthony Randolph, Monta Ellis, the upcoming schedule and more.