Monta Ellis finished with 41 points and the rest of his Warrior teammates played very well against the defending champion Lakers who were playing at about half speed whereas the Dubs were going full throttle.
If you hadn't been watching the Warriors this preseason, this game showed a lot of promise in terms of style, effort, defensive improvements and ball movement. This review will be more about team analysis as opposed to the game because this was my first time seeing the Dubs with my own eyes.
The Warriors are finally playing NBA basketball again which is very encouraging. Their defensive principles have improved mightily in terms of spacing, help and rebounding. Again, the Lakers did seem to be moving a step slower but the Warriors weren't chasing the ball around in the half court set when the Lakers were on offense. When someone drove to the hoop, Andris Biedrins and or David Lee was there to meet them. After which they would grab the miss and fire a decent outlet pass to one of the guards. That's all you can ask for from those two and Keith Smart needs to be commended for the tactical improvement.
David Lee's passing is amazing. This has got to be the most underrated aspect of his game. The new sets in the half court look far better than last year's as they are filled with back door cuts and off ball screens. Lee surveying from the post or the elbow will result in plenty of assists for him and easy baskets for others. In the 4th quarter, though, they reverted back to watching Monta Ellis or Reggie Williams go 1 on 5 even when Monta was visibly tired. Perhaps Coach Smart didn't want to utilize David Lee in the pick and roll too much because it will be a big part of their attack this season. Stephen Curry didn't play in this game so I can only imagine how good the team will look operating with a true point guard. Again, it was preseason but the improvements are there and with this brand of basketball the Warriors should finish with far more than 26 wins this year.
Why did Monta Ellis play every minute? That doesn't bode well for his health throughout the season. It would have been nice to see him finish with somewhere around 33 minutes but apparently old habits die hard. Since it was preseason, a few changes for the team need to be made but hopefully they already will be.
1. David Lee needs to get the ball earlier and more often during the games. They weren't even going to him and he still ended up with 16 points. When they do get it to him he needs to be lower on the block because to often he caught it at the free throw line with not much to do when he wasn't looking to pass.
2. Andris looked great but I don't now how good of an idea it is to pound the ball into him so often. Kudos to Smart though for keeping Andris involved in the offense and making the opponents pay attention to him. I just don't know why I felt like Biens received more touches on the block than Lee did.
For a record of 3-5, the Warriors can still be encouraged because they played well, played together and showed that their new strategies and systems will translate to winning basketball if they stick with it. Can't wait for Wednesday against the Rockets to see how they do when it counts.