Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mavs vs. Warriors

This game might have won Steph Curry the next 4 MVP's. Harry Barnes aka "The Black Falcon", Festus Ezeli and Leandro Barbosa were out too and the Warriors only had 10 guys dressed but they still theoretically had enough players to at least make this game competitive and it was anything but. The Warriors didn't seem like their heart was in the game and none of them seemed to have any idea what to do without Steph. The game kind of reminded me of Charles Barkley's line about Michael Jackson and a bunch of Tito Jackson's.

The obvious problem for the Warriors was they don't have a lot of guys who can create their own shot and they had a lot of difficulty generating offense without all the attention that Steph draws. Klay Thompson gets a lot of his points running off screens and attacking close-outs, Brandon Rush is a spot-up shooter, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green are more ball movers than primary scorers and Andrew Bogut can't really score at all. The only guy who could really get his shot tonight was Shaun Livingston, who can always take smaller guys into the post.

There's not too much to take away from this game from the Warriors perspective but it does make you wonder how other teams can attack their lack of shot-creators in a playoff series. What really jumps out at me is that you want to make Draymond Green have to score the ball as much as possible. Without Steph, Draymond didn't get any of his customary 4-on-3 plays from the top of the key and he didn't have a lot of ways to create offense.
  • The Mavs made a smart adjustment at the start of the game by sliding Chandler Parsons over to Draymond and hiding Dirk on Brandon Rush. Parsons is actually taller than Draymond and it's not like he had a lot of ways to create his own shot against him. More importantly, having Parsons on Draymond means you could have just switched the pick-and-roll and put a better perimeter defender on Steph than your PF. 
  • That to me is the key when playing Golden State - put a perimeter player on Draymond so that you can switch every pick-and-roll and dare him to try and score over a smaller player in the post. That takes away most of the ball movement from their offense and then you can live with Draymond in the post either off the switch or the initial defensive assignment.
  • The domino effect would mean the match-ups look like this:
    • PG on Steph
    • SF on Klay
    • PF on The Black Falcon
    • SG on Draymond
  • Anything that makes the Warriors run isos for anyone but Steph is a win against them. It's kind of like when Don Nelson used to put Tim Hardaway (6'3) on Mark Eaton (7'3) when the Warriors played the Jazz and dared Utah to try and abandon their offense and post their C up. The rule of thumb for me is the more FGA's for Draymond and Bogut, the better your chances are.
I don't think the Warriors miss Barnes as a SF as much as they miss him as a small-ball PF. It's not just not having the Lineup of Death either - you can really see that in their 2nd unit when they have to play Mo Speights at PF next to one of their C's. All of a sudden, Golden State doesn't have much spacing and they suddenly look like a normal NBA team. Speights has a -29.9 net rating this season, which has to be some kind of record.
  • The bottom line is that I wouldn't want to pay Barnes a lot of money as a FA unless I had room for him in my line-ups to play him as a small-ball 4. One suggestion I really liked from my colleague at The Cauldron Nate Duncan was the Wolves throwing a lot of money at Barnes for a Towns - Barnes - Wiggins front-line. I love the idea of Towns and 4 wings - that's what the line-up of the future looks like. 
  • It feels like Golden State should just bite the bullet and pay him, though, because why break up something that works this well? Even if Barnes is never going to be fully utilized as a small-ball 4 playing with Draymond, he does have a fairly instrumental role in what they do and there's no reason not to pay everyone when you have things running this well and you are making this much money. Don't overthink things when you are the champs - the Mavs learned this the hard way when they let Tyson Chandler walk the first time.
Don't look now but the Warriors are only 2.5 games up on the Spurs and they now have a lower point differential so they don't have that big a margin for error when it comes to resting Steph, I'm rooting for San Antonio to pass them because I'm a greedy pig and I want to see Warriors vs. Spurs AND Warriors vs. Thunder ... Spurs vs. Thunder has kind of been done to death and I don't want to see two of Golden State's main rivals take each other out.

It's hard to say too much about the Mavs beyond the fact that they took advantage of an undermanned team that didn't really come out to play and put them out of their misery fast. This was barely an NBA game tonight, which was a huge disappointment to a sell-out crowd that must have been at least 25% Warriors fans and who paid over $100 a ticket but them's are the breaks. The Mavs have been playing really well lately and they are starting to flex their muscles at home, with the win streak at the AAC moving to 5.

As much as I have liked Deron Williams this season, I can't deny how well Dallas has looked with JJ Barea in the starting line-up. Barea has been playing out of his mind since getting the nod as the starter - it's like he's a Monstar who stole Steph's powers.
  • The key with Barea as a starter is that it gives him more minutes to play with Dirk and the combination of those 2 guys has been money all season. It's kind of like the reverse of the Draymond and Steph dynamic in that Dirk creates so much space and draws so much attention that it makes life crazy easy for Barea.
    • Dirk might be one of the only players in the league with as much of a gravity effect on the other team as Steph. Being a pure shooter who can create his own shot and put the ball on the floor absolutely devastates defenses. 
  • Carlisle tries to play Barea with Dirk as much as possible - he has played 320 of his 535 minutes this season with Dirk and the two have a +9.4 net rating when they are on the floor together. Barea's top 8 line-ups in terms of minutes played this season all feature Dirk. 
  • Everything is coming together for JJB - he isn't missing 3's, which is allowing him to get to the rim and he knows the offense like the back of his hand and has a great feel for where everyone is going to be when he's driving the ball. 
  • The way he is playing makes me wonder if SMU's Nic Moore (generously listed at 5'9 175) might actually have a chance to play in the NBA. The way the league is going, it's much easier to exploit the mismatch of a faster player against a slower one than a bigger player against a smaller one. Moore is a pure PG whose also a great shooter off the dribble and that combination of skills is deadly when playing in enough space. He's not going to be drafted and he will have to be in a situation with a PF who can pick-and-pop but there might be a chance for a guy with his stature and his game to stick in the league.
    • Moore actually bristled a bit when someone asked him about the comparison at a recent SMU game but hey, Barea has made $36 million and played 10 seasons in the league when his contract is done, which is pretty miraculous for a guy with his physical attributes. Really not a bad role model.
  • What's important when you are as small as Barea or Moore is that you have to be super-aggressive on offense and you have to be constantly be looking to shoot when you are that small because it's going to be next to impossible for a sub 5'10 guy to have much of an impact on the game playing off the ball. It can be aggravating at times to watch Barea pound the ball into the ground but that's the only way he's going to survive at the NBA level.


  1. Whenever steph is off the floor the offense completely breaks down. As a warriors fan, my hope is that the Dubs allow Harry Barnes to walk in the offseason (feel like he'd be really good in detroit) and somehow find a trade partner for Bogut. From there they could squeez KD in and if kerr sets it up so that either KD or Curry are on the floor at all times, how could they possibly lose a game? Who would pick up Bogut though is the real question, I feel like not a single team in the league is thinking, you know what we could really need, a 32 year old center making 13 million dollars

    1. The cap spike should make it easier to move Bogut. I could see teams like the Mavs and the Lakers targeting him if they miss out on guys like Whiteside and Mozgov, especially if they don't have to give up a lot of assets to get him. That's what they did with Hibbert and Zaza this off-season and Bogut is a step above those guys.