Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Warriors

16-0, a new record. And this, a year after they won the NBA championship. One narrative going around the sports world that I find completely foolish is the Warriors were "lucky" both last year and this year because they suffered no significant injuries. Beyond the fact one could say the exact same thing about any given championship team (weren't the Pats lucky for that interception in the Super Bowl? Weren't the Lakers lucky Kendrick Perkins was hurt in the last Lakers-Celtics finals?), there is another reason the Warriors don't get hurt much: depth and age.

Should we consider it unlucky if a team relies on an older than 35 superstar and that superstar gets injured (Lakers, Mavs?) Gimme a break. This is a design flaw, not bad luck. Plus, the Warriors are incredibly deep. Even if you took away their transcendent star, Curry, they'd still be better than 85% of the other NBA teams and can win on any given night without Curry going crazy.

The Warriors are so good, they blow most teams out by the 4th quarter and don't need to work hard in order to finish games. This is one reason why they don't suffer injuries. I mean, look at what the Cavs needed to do in order to win two games against the Warriors last year -- Dellavedova went to the hospital after playing the game of his life. They won that game, but in no way is that sustainable over the course of a 7 game series, which is why they lost.

Also, Steph Curry went through the offseason and clearly practiced and improved his game, a year after an MVP season. In contrast, James Harden came into the season out of shape. Will it be luck should Harden get injured and Curry remain healthy?

Now...all that said, I think there is a way to beat the Warriors from a tactical standpoint. Everyone talks about their invincible small ball line up. Horse shit. Everyone can be beat. Remember a few years ago when dumbass sports commentators were saying the read-option was impossible to stop? How long did it take NFL coaches to come up with an effective counter? Half a season?

Here's how I'd beat the Warriors:

1. Frustrate Draymond Green. He is the lifeblood of the team. I would frustrate him on both offense and defense best I could. Throw a bigger, longer guy on him defensively. Pound him down low. So, if I'm the Clippers, I'm putting Jordan on him defensively and offensively, I making him guard Griffin.

2. Cover Curry one-on-one and contest his 3s. The Dellavedova tactic. What's hard for the Clippers is that they throw Paul on Curry and he needs to expend so much energy on the defensive end, it ends up hurting him late in the game. In the last game, Paul played out of his mind, but come the 4th quarter, he was ineffective. No doubt this had something to do with the amount of energy he expended early on both offensively and defensively, especially after coming back from injury. Ideally, a team has pitbull defender like Patrick Beverly or Dellavedova who can harass Curry all night defensively without being a crucial offensive component. The problem with Paul is that he needs to play both roles and no one can reasonably expect to do this (save maybe Westbrook who is a physical beast).

3. Force Klay, Iggy, Barnes, etc to make decisions. If you just give these guys open lay ups and threes they'll make 'em. This happens when you double Curry. That's why you need to cover Curry one-on-one and when these guys have the ball, play tough one-on-one defense and make them make plays.

4. Post up and rebound. Nothing is more frustrating in basketball than when you can't get a rebound. If the Warriors go small, counter with a post game. One problem is that tons of teams these days can't post up, which is ridiculous. How has DeAndre Jordan not figured out to catch the ball with his back to the basket and make a move and a 5-foot shot? Remember how the Lakers crushed the Celtics in game 7 with Gasol and Bynum getting the ball down low and pounding the offensive rebounds? The Warriors are able to rebound when you take 3s and midrange shots because the rebounds bounce off those type shots and whoever is around - guard, forward, center - can catch the ball. But if you're taking shots inside 10 feet, the rebounds fall closer to the basket and taller guys can just reach over and grab them. It'll be interesting to watch the Spurs-Warriors in a 7-game series. If I were the Spurs, I'd throw Aldridge and Duncan out there to counter the Warriors small ball line up and literally post up one or the other every single possession. The other one pounds the offensive rebounds. Surround with a couple 3 point shooters and see how the Warriors defend. Imagine Harrison Barnes trying to cover Duncan 5-10 feet from the basket. Yeah, right.

Also, I think teams way overreact to Curry getting hot. If the guy gets hot, just keep playing tough. Maybe switch new legs onto him. The Clippers problem is that their perimeter defenders basically all suck. Crawford, Reddick, and Rivers are useless defenders thus putting too much pressure on Paul. Maybe not all teams have guys have the right personnel, but I'd throw a pitbull type if you have one and possibly longer defenders, like a LeBron, to mess with him. If the Clippers ever want to beat the Warriors, they might need Paul to commit to defending Curry and defer some ball handling elsewhere to save Paul for the 4th quarter. They could use Bledsoe.

If you decide you must double Curry at all times, you have already lost the game. I would throw occasional doubles at him at the time and place of the defenses choosing. I would not react to him "getting hot." I would switch it up so he would not know when or why it was coming.

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