Typical Warriors. When most fans and experts mark this team as dead following that be all and end all defeat to the Denver Nuggets somehow Denver keeps failing. With a decent win over the lottery bound Clippers and the Jazz poundering the Nuggets the focus will now be tonight on the Denver-Houston game. Getting away from all that how positive was it seeing Marco and POB play about as rare as a lunuar eclipse. It wasn't a blowout by any stretch op 16 in the first. Up by 1 in the second. Up by 15 in the third, then down 1 just minutes later. Up 11 in the fourth and so on and so forth will testify to that but it was a rare positive night to take home.
Performance Tonight you saw a complete reversal of performance of the Warriors. It was the best and worst. The highlights package would include decent shots with no one in their faces (a la Mickael Pietrus in the corner); a lot of times there was a defender in their face forcing them into a fadeaway three (see Stephen Jackson). Fortunately other players not named Monta Ellis stepped up to the challenge. Baron Davis went to the hoop 3-4 times in a row getting tow and 1's al;ong the way, Al shook Tim Thomas, Hail Mary's were delivered to Ellis like a Wide receiver, Biedrins had a ton of soft Buckets and is now the most reliable Free Throw Shooter. Never a dull moment in Warriors basketball.
But of course there were negatives needless to say all on the defensive end. Cuttino Mobley was doing his best Warrior killer impression pulling up for 3's and tough shots, Tim Thomas a hard to like character looked like he was worth every bit of that mid-level exception, draining several threes early on but became a non-factor afterwards. The Warriors looked like they were trying to outscore a lottery opponent not stop them.
An example of course would be Nelson actually playing Belinelli in the 2nd quarter with Monta Ellis, Pietrus, Austin Croshere and Kelenna Azuibuke. Hard to explain but either the Clippers are that bad, he trusts that 5 to be out there together or he wanted starters to get rested. Probably a mixture of all. Even though Belinelli struggled on D like all the Warriors he showed his potential his first shot attempt being rejected. Having said all that his two made shots were beautiful and he looks lightning fast on the dribble. There is defintely potential with this guy.
Wait Denver lost stop teasing us !
Even POB got a taste of NBA ball checking in for 3 minutes in what was probably his last outing in a Warriors uniform. Perhaps there could be plans to insert him into the Phoenix game in case our bigs get into foul trouble against Shaq and Amare likely. Unforuntely it's unlikely to happen although he had a nice throwdown. Azubuike played sparingly and looked only to score and failing somewhat going 1-7 with several flat jumpers and forced drives to the hoop. It was not a pretty site. No Brandon Wright sighting but he couldn't do much against Thomas admittely or any of the Clippers frontcourt.
But really if Golden State are to have a succesful sequel to the postseason we saw last year they need their bench players to step up big time. We didn't see them against Denver when it mattered but there is a catch 22 situation here. How do you develop the likes of Azubuike when Baron can't really afford sitting for 10 minutes with no decent backup Point Guard or likewise with Stephen Jackson. The answer is no but Nelson realises keeping them fresh down the stretch matters just as much as Denvers results!. Then again is now the best time. Aside from Pietrus no one really impressed Barnes not even getting off the bench.
Future Warrior? perhaps
But as we all know the development of Monta Ellis never stops ceasing to amaze. Yes he was off tonight scoring wise but last night was further proof of his development into a complete player far beyond the realms of what fans anticipated when he was drafted in 2005. Granted the Clippers have an absolutely pitiful backcourt but for a guy who as I said before needed to work on his underdeveloped handles and ability to finish plus his 3 charges a game with no finesse move none of these were on display tonight. He's cut down on charges, worked harder to get into the passing lanes and steal improving his defense and he avoids blocks in the lane particulary his move on Elton Brand flipped the ball up in mid-stride rather than during an elevation, which Brand probably didn't expected. He reads defenses better as seen by his 3.2 steal avergage (2.4 this month). His development has been absolutely phenomenal and credit to Nelson and the assistant coaches for making it happen.
So far now we know two things. 1. Don't take this as how the Warriors will face against the Suns since the Clippers are thinking Beasley all the way and 2. It was huge, since we need to win out most likely to have a chance at the playoffs. These teo points tell me we should be thrilled with this win but with a cautious attitude as we head West to Phoenix. Needless to say a city famous for it's Space program and Steaks would be a whole lot popular in Oakland tonight should they beat Denver