Last night’s 107-101 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves was a nice victory. Coming off a frustrating loss the night before in Denver, when victory was snatched from their hands by poor officiating (read feltbot’s scathing rebuke of the officials here), I wouldn’t have been surprised to see the Warriors come out flat and lose, even to a team as poor as the Timberwolves. But, to the Warriors’ credit, they came out and played hard, earning a rare road win and finally reaching double digits in wins.
There were a couple things that stood out about the game, and not all of them were good. The Warriors were active on defense, getting 12 steals and forcing 18 turnovers. This isn’t anything new. The Warriors are classic gamblers on defense and lead the league in steals per game (9.88). The Warriors held the Timberwolves to 44 percent shooting from the field, which is impressive, but I think that’s more indicative of the Timberwolves’ lack of offensive ability (they average 44.1 percent for the season) than the Warriors’ overall defense. I didn’t see a lot of improvement in defensive fundamentals in last night’s game, despite Minnesota’s poor shooting percentage. The Warriors were still slow to react on defense, and were beaten up inside. They played well enough to win and that’s ultimately what matters, so they deserve credit for that.
I was frustrated again by the Warriors’ lack of effort on rebounding. Golden State didn’t have an answer for Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, who combined for 30 rebounds, including 11 on offense. That’s going to continue to be a problem for the Warriors, and it will have to be corrected before this team can harbor any dreams of winning on a consistent basis. Teams that don’t rebound don’t win. The Warriors had a few good individual rebounding efforts. Corey Maggette had nine rebounds, Monta Ellis had seven, and Andris Biedrins had eight in 22 minutes. But the Warriors’ problem in this area is that they don’t get a consistent effort from everybody on the roster. I have been impressed by Stephen Curry in the past couple games, so it’s hard to call him out on this, but one rebound in 30 minutes is unacceptable. I don’t care how small he is, his athletic ability means he should be a guard who routinely grabs 4-6 rebounds per game. Other offenders? Anthony Randolph had five rebounds in 23 minutes and Ronny Turiaf grabbed four in 24 minutes. When your starting power forward and center combine for nine rebounds, that is a failure. The Warriors were able to overcome their rebounding failure because they shot the ball better than Minnesota. But against good teams, this kind of effort on the boards will lead to more losses. The frustrating thing is the Warriors have the ability to be one of the better rebounding teams in the league, especially now that they’re healthy. But they play soft and are continually out-hustled and outsmarted for rebounds by their opponents.
I don’t want to completely come down on the Warriors. It was a road win, and they did a lot of things well (decent shooting, they made their free throws and the nine turnovers was very impressive). But when I continue to see a lack of effort in an area that is so crucial to winning basketball (rebounding), it’s frustrating. The Warriors had the injury excuse before because their centers were out, and that was acceptable to me. But that excuse is spent and it’s time to see better effort from this team in that area.