Goldies Win Game 1!!!

A few quick observations on the Warriors’ Game 1 first round surprise at Dallas late last night, before heading off to discussion regression analysis with a group of budding scholars:

  • Avery Johnson was weak. As Barkley correctly pointed out: the Mavs won 67 games. Why are they adjusting to the Goldies? Yes, I know the Warriors have beaten Dallas five straight, But as Marc Stein points out, Dirk DID NOT START AT CENTER ONCE this year. So, in effect, Coach Johnson planted seeds of doubt with his team – you know, the one with THE BEST RECORD in the league – before the tip of Game One. Very clever, Avery.
  • Nellie was brilliant. Look, my two favorite coaches in the last 25 years are Nelson and Jerry Sloan. I’ve watched hundreds and hundreds of their teams games. My enjoyment of Sloan’s teams comes from their absolute predictability. As proof check out this quote reported in a recent SI piece on video scouting “Perhaps no team puts less stock in film than Utah, the fourth-seed in the West. Coach Jerry Sloan knows that opponents have his team so well video-scouted that they’ll “sit” on the Jazz’s plays — so Utah prospers with counterpunches. ‘When I was with the Jazz, we wanted the other team to know our play calls,’ says the Cavs’ Donyell Marshall. “They’d jump out, and we’d run a counter to it.” Well Nelson is the opposite…his teams are so unpredictable, the other team’s coach shakes in his boots. Well everyone but Sloan.
  • Another part of Nellie’s success is that he does not give a shit about player egos. Alleluia! Monta Ellis looked overwhelmed at the outset, he yanks him. Andris Biedrins was a MAJOR factor in the team’s success all year, in fact Warrior TV guys Fitz and Barnett have called him the team’s most consistent player and MVP many times in the last month. How did Nellie use him in Game One? Plays him eight minutes.
  • On the flip side of that point, he has never been afraid to play low salary CBA guys and other teams’ cast-offs in big roles in big games. In Nellie’s last iteration of theWarriors he unearthed Vincent Askew and Mario Elie from the CBA. This year it was cast-off Matt Barnes earning a spot in camp and subsequently playing brilliantly last night. While not seen last night, Kelenna Azubuike also fits this profile.
  • Finally, in an earlier post I wrote about how Nellie’s playing Mullin and Hardaway too many minutes likely detracted from their overall careers, and that he was playing Baron too many minutes. To prove my point, Davis went out for a minor knee surgery shortly thereafter . But in the playoffs Nelson’s habit of playing starters BIG minutes works. Sure Baron Davis is fragile, but with no back-to-backs and three days between Games One and Two, playing Baron 44 minutes makes sense. This was one of my beefs with Sloan when the Jazz were good. He’d rest Stockton and Malone with largely the same pattern as the rest of the year. In the playoffs there is no tomorrow…play your best guys now!

That’s it for now…Dr. Dick

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