Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while thinking this guy is tougher than you would be in his shoes…
Charlotte Bobcats defense. Here’s a little secret — Golden State’s offense isn’t as good as you think it is. In their last five games the Warriors are shooting 39.5 percent overall and 32.2 percent from three, scoring 95.8 points per 100 possessions in that time, 27th in the NBA (on the season they are 16th). That said, Charlotte has played a lot better defense since Michael Kidd-Gillchrist returned and held the Warriors offense to 75 points on 32 percent shooting — David Lee was 3-of-13, Stephen Curry 1-of-7 from three. That’s a good defens Against anyone. Charlotte’s defense led them to a 3-1 road record on this road trip.
Chicago Bulls defense. Indiana couldn’t do what the Bulls did Tuesday — drag the high-paced Suns team into the quicksand, turning the game into an ugly slugfest that favored them. The game wasn’t that slow — 102 possessions, which is nine more than the Bulls want per game, according to NBA.com numbers — but it felt slow and grinding, which is just how the Bulls want it. The Suns only shot 38.8 percent on the night, were 8-of-28 from three, shot just 48,4 percent inside 8 feet, and had an offensive rating of 98.4 (points per 100 possessions). Chicago’s style of play made the Suns uncomfortable.
Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves. Both the Kevins got off to a fast start for Minnesota — Love and Martin combined for 37 of the Timberwolves 68 first half points — but we will single out Love for his efficient all-around game. He had 31 points and 17 rebounds, plus he got to the free throw line 18 times. The fact he did that against the Lakers “defense” shouldn’t be held against him.
Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats. Jefferson has often been overlooked when talking about guys who were snubbed for the All-Star Game and he had another big night — 30 points and 13 rebounds. He had 17 of those in the points in the second half, when you kept waiting for Golden State to put together a little run but Jefferson and Charlotte would always get the buckets that shuts down the runs.
There’s this overplayed angle talked about by some fans and pundits suggesting the Warriors just got lucky last season — for example, they faced a banged-up Rockets’ team in the conference finals then a Cavaliers’ squad without two of their big three through the Finals. Then there was Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers saying the Warriors were lucky not having to play the Clippers or Spurs in the postseason.
The Warriors are sick of hearing they were lucky.
Friday Klay Thompson fired back at Rivers, via CSNBayArea.com.
– “I wanted to play the Clippers last year, but they couldn’t handle their business.”
– “If we got lucky, look at our record against them last year (Warriors 3-1). I’m pretty sure we smacked them.”
– “Didn’t they lose to the Rockets? Exactly. So haha. That just makes me laugh. That’s funny. Weren’t they up 3-1 too?”
– “Yeah, tell them I said that. That’s funny. That’s funny.”
Warriors big man Andrew Bogut phrased it differently.
If you think the Warriors just won because they were lucky — you are dead wrong.
They were the best team in the NBA last season, bar none. They won 67 regular season games in a tough conference, then beat everyone in their path to win a title. Did they catch some breaks along the way, particularly with health? You bet. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant didn’t win a title without catching some breaks along the way, either. Nobody does. Luck plays a role, but it was not the primary factor in why the Warriors are champs.
All this talk of them getting lucky is fuel for the fire they needed not to be complacent this season. Way to give the defending champs bulletin board material, Doc.
Dwyane Wade has earned his status as an elder statesman, the E.F. Hutton kind of veteran who speaks and everybody listens.
Rookie Justise Winslow is listening.
Winslow (who should have gone higher in this draft) is a perfect fit for the Heat and he’s going to be part of their rotation off the bench from the start of the season (along with Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire). Wade has already fully stepped into the mentor role with Winslow working with him on post moves, reports Jason Lieser at the Palm Beach Post.
“As his career develops, hopefully he’s able to do multiple things on the floor, but right now there’s gonna be certain things (Erik Spoelstra) wants him to do, and some of those things I’m good at,” Wade said. “I’m just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things that I have strengths at. It’s gonna take a while, but if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27.
“All of us are where we’re at because someone before us helped us. They helped by letting us sit there and watch film with them or having conversations with them. If he’s a student of it and he really wants to know, I’m a pretty decent teacher in certain areas.”
This is what you want out of a veteran leader and some of the young teams out there have done an excellent job adding this kind of mentor — Kevin Garnett in Minnesota may be the best example. Someone who can pass on his wisdom and show the team’s young players how to be a professional and win in the NBA.
It’s a little different for Winslow, he and the Heat are more in a win-now mode, but he should be able to contribute to that.