Three straight. With Deron Williams sidelined due to an ankle injury, the Nets were able to beat #3 seed Atlanta by a score of 91-86 at home on Monday night. Unfortunately for the Nets, they will have to push their winning streak to four without Williams' services. He's out with a sprained left ankle and will be reevaluated later this week. Due to the awfulness of teams 3-15 in the Eastern Conference, the Nets have never fallen out of playoff contention.
The third opponent to visit during this homestand will be the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors have been playing great ball over the past couple of weeks as they have won ten straight games, including wins against the Clippers on Christmas night and at Miami on January 2. They are tied with the Clippers for the lead in the Pacific Division. This is night two of a back-to-back and the final game of the Dubs' season long seven game road trip.
The season so far
What's the story here? Let's check it out:
Offensive Rebounding percentage
Free throw rate
Effective Field Goal percentage
Opponent Effective Field Goal percentage
Without Williams, Paul Pierce & Joe Johnson will be tasked with carrying the offensive load once again. They're coming off of poor offensive games, they're gonna have their work cut off for them whenever Andre Iguodala (more on him later) guards them. Replacing Williams in the starting five for the second straight game will be Alan Anderson. He and Shaun Livingston will be tasked with slowing down Curry & Thompson. They're both coming off quality games against Atlanta & while they don't score that often, they do enough on offense that the Warriors backcourt won't have the night off on defense.
What will help the Nets in their quest to extend the winning streak is the presence of Andrei Kirilenko. It isn't an accident that the team has been much improved since he returned from injury. He's seen his minutes steadily increase each game he's played & he's been very active. He's gone to the line 18 times in his three games back and figures to be a key part of the strategy to slow down the Warriors. Also, Mirza Teletovic should see some more minutes in this game. He hasn't cooled down from deep and his ability to space the floor will help to keep David Lee occupied and off the glass. Also working to keep Lee busy will be Kevin Garnett. For all of his struggles, KG has been the best defensive rebounder in the league this season.
The problem for the Warriors has been the health of their key players. Stephen Curry has dealt with an ankle injury as well as a concussion & Andre Iguodala (more on him in a moment) missed about a month due to a strained hamstring. They've won nine straight games, but early in the season the team looked to be in crisis. After the Warriors lost to the Spurs reserves on national TV, Mark Jackson's performance came directly into question:
Mark Jackson doesn't have the slightest clue as to when to call timeouts, and his management of rotations makes no sense at all. He either runs players into the ground, or goes full bench mob, which is entirely ineffective, when some simple changes (running Draymond more with the starters, Lee and Iguodala with the bench) would seem to be logical improvements.
Mark Jackson's calling card has supposedly been his ability to be a motivator, but the reality is that this team has not been showing up regularly. The slow starts are on the coach. How often have you ever seen a Popovich, Jackson, or Riley coached team just not show up for the first quarter? The Warriors already have multiple losses against teams they should beat simply because they couldn't be bothered to show up until the second quarter.
They haven't lost since. A staple of Golden State's offense has been their fast paced play. Mark Jackson has stayed true to recent Warriors history & G-State is averaging close to 100 possessions per game. Where the Warriors really excel is from behind the line. Led by Stephen Curry & Klay Thompson, Golden State is seventh in total attempts from three and third in efficiency (about 39 percent). This poses a major problem for Brooklyn seeing as how the Nets have been the worst team in the league at defending the three point line. They allow teams to shoot 39.2 percent from deep, tied with Sacramento for highest in the league. Where the Nets can take advantage is in forcing turnovers. While Brooklyn is middle of the pack as it relates to forcing turnovers, G-State leads the league in turnover rate, coughing it up around 17 per 100 possessions.
They're not solely a perimeter oriented team. David Lee and Andrew Bogut are a solid duo on the inside. Lee is having another solid season, averaging close to 20-10 a night. He's also coming off a spectacular game against the Bucks on Tuesday night, scoring 22 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. He's never been one of the greatest interior defenders, and that's where healthy Bogut steps in. In addition to being top ten in blocks and defensive rebounding, teams are shooting only 43.9 percent against him on eight attempts at the rim per game. With a starting five as awesome as Curry-Thompson-Iguodala-Lee-Bogut, you would expect a drop off from the bench. Jae at Golden State of Mind discusses the bench players (some of whom are currently injured) and says:
Add it all together and the 'bench mob' (Mark Jackson's collection of bench players that he strangely insists on playing together as a unit to mask their individual strengths and intensify their collective weakness) have kept opponents in games that the starters had otherwise put securely in the "Win" column. Couple this with a need for some insurance to keep the starters healthy or, forbid, have to win games if one goes down for several games, and there is an actual need to strengthen the bench. This is especially true if, as one may now believe, the Warriors are to make some actual noise in the post-season and realistically take a shot at something more than just making the playoffs. The lack of depth is real.
If they're looking for some bench help, they can always give Billy King a call...
Player to Watch: Andre Iguodala
For a player that has been as consistently good as Iguodala has been throughout his career, he doesn't get as much praise as he deserves. He's earned the reputation of being one of the league's best defenders, and his performance this season has been a continuation of that trend. This year, the Dubs' are allowing 98.3 points points per 100 possessions, good for fourth in the league and a four point improvement from last season. With Iggy on the court, their defense is even better. The Warriors are a +17 when Iguodala is on the court, and that's thanks in large part to allowing only 93.7 points per 100 possessions when he's on, an 8.5 point improvement versus when he's off the court.
He's also having the best season of his career on the offensive side of the ball. Throughout his career, he hasn't been a particularly great shooter from the perimeter (in a full season, he has never shot over 40 percent from either the midrange or three point areas). However, he's having a spectacular year from the field. He's shooting over 50 percent from the field thanks in large part to his shooting 51.6 percent from the midrange area & 48.1 percent from three, good for top five in the league (!!!). Unsurprisingly, he's maintained his excellent shooting inside the restricted area, converting on 70 percent of his attempts inside the restricted area as of this writing. Over at ESPN, Ethan Sherwood Strauss has more on AI's hot shooting (thanks to the GSOM crew for finding the article).
With Williams out of the way, Igoudala will spend most of the night defending Joe Johnson & Paul Pierce. He's got more than enough length and quickness to keep up with the duo on the perimeter
From the Vault
Back in 2007, we believed.
More reading: Golden State Of Mind
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Golden State Warriors Game Notes - Golden State Warriors
- Warriors-Nets Preview - Taylor Bechtold - STATS LLC
- Nets' Williams in walking boot for injured ankle - AP
- Bothersome Ankles Sideline Nets’ Deron Williams - Andrew Keh - New York Times
- Deron Williams out for Nets vs. Warriors as guard has PRP and cortisone shots in both ankles - Stefan Bondy - New York Daily News
- Deron Williams, in a walking boot, will miss next game - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Nets slowly buillding confidence; ready to face Warriors - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Deron Williams gets more injections — on both ankles - Fred Kerber - New York Post
- Teletovic’s patience with Nets is finally paying off - Fred Kerber - New York Post
- Is Brooklyn's winning streak fool's gold? - Devin Kharpertian - The Brooklyn Game
- Deron Williams Receives PRP Injections, Cortisone Shots; Out Wednesday vs. Warriors - Danny Savitzky - The Brooklyn Game
Game 37 rewind: Historic trip has one last stop, but success is already bagged - Carl Steward - Contra Costa Times