Post Celtics-Warriors thoughts

Monta Ellis dropped 41 points on the Celtics in a 107-103 loss. (AP photo)
Just some random things I saw from the Celtics 107-103 win over the Warriors Friday night:

– Interior defense on the Celtics looks different. But you know this. It’s just odd that the perimeter defense looks so different too. Watching Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry can run a pick-and-roll with David Lee and carve up the Celtics so easily — with Kevin Garnett on the floor — is worrisome . That’s probably a bit of an overreaction given the nature of the Warriors offense and their stellar guards. But I just keep imagining LeBron James and Dwyane Wade running that pick-and-roll with Chris Bosh and having a much tougher time trading buckets. Of course, that is if the Heat ever actually run a set offense. Mind you, Ellis dropped 41 points and Lee put up 26 points and 12 rebounds. The Celtics didn’t get off easy.
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Easy, breezy Bay Area sports storylines

A roundup of the Bay Area storylines that are dominating my psyche.

So I wrote a little thing about Boston sports summer storylines knowing very well that this topic was going to come up. You know, Bay Area sports storylines.

Here, again, I’m dividing them by individual team. Now, because the Bay Area obviously has more teams than Boston, I’ll just have to write more. But you know who comes first….
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Monta Ellis should be an NBA All-Star

The best player on the Warriors is Monta Ellis.

The most dynamic player on the Warriors is Anthony Randolph.

Forget that crazy hype you thought you knew about Randolph. He’s only playing 22 minutes a game. It’s not enough to gauge him against the best of the best, let alone be in the all-star game debate.

Now Ellis, that’s a killer right there. This season, he’s exploited defenses with his quickness and slashing ability for 26.4 points per game (sixth in the NBA), 5.4 assists, 2.3 steals (second in the NBA) and 4.2 rebounds.

I wouldn’t be surprised that with his numbers he gets an all-star nod. The best players of each team should be represented. But Ellis stands up well against the entire league for his effort to keep the struggling Warriors afloat. And if there was a season in which he deserved it more, it would be this one.

It’s not just about the numbers. But they do tell a vivid story of how Ellis makes the team both a winner and a loser in one swipe.

Ellis is consistently going in every game (42.2 minutes per game) and leading the Warriors’ offensive attack. How he plays and distributes the ball directly correlates with the club’s success. The Dubs are 7-14 when he hits for average or higher, a 33 percent winning percentage that’s more malleable than the team’s 30 percent winning percentage (12-27).

In games he doesn’t hit for average? 5-13, or 38 percent.

Now put your eyeballs on two of the biggest stats of successful ball clubs: Assists and steals.

The Warriors are 8-10 (44 percent winning percentage) when Ellis has six or more assists as the off guard; 4-17 (19 percent) when he has five or less.

When he gets three or more steals, the club is 9-7 (56 percent) and 3-20 (13 percent) when he has less.

(As you can see, the Warriors are in dire need of more defense. But who doesn’t know that?)

Bottom line is, Ellis has to be Super Man for the Warriors to win games because all he has for help is the scoring ability of Corey Maggette, Randolph’s 22 minutes and Stephen Curry. And none of those fellas are pulling his minutes, grabbing steals like him, or have the ability to put the ball in the bucket like he does.

Unfortunately, the Warriors’ team defense sucks, putting the team at the bottom of the Western Conference doldrums at 12-27, 19 games behind the conference-leading Lakers.

Put Ellis on a winner with better defense, say, the Cavaliers and he’s an instant star.

Will he be denied one of the NBA’s most sacred accolades? Probably. Should he be? No way.

Warriors beat Celtics — shocking

Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo, right, drives into Golden State Warriors' Monta Ellis during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 28, 2009, in Oakland, Calif. AP Photo / Ben Margot
Are the Warriors coming of age — again?

Yesterday’s 103-99 win over the Boston Celtics marked only the second time this season the Golden State Warriors have won two-games in a row. It also marked the second time this season the Celtics — the East coast power — had two losses in a row.

Monta Ellis (37 points) battled it out with Rajon Rondo (30 points and 15 assists) and actually won. It was interesting to wake up this morning (after falling asleep on it) and seeing the end score.

I wonder if the Warriors have let go of all of its offseason and early season woes and are prepared to take things to another level. This is definitely a step for this team in a positive direction.

As always, I still think they need a dynamic big man before they can turn the corner. But the playoffs are not unreachable now. It’s a matter of putting together games like last night, against strong teams that are absolutely dangerous from three to four spots in the lineup, and making big shots as Ellis did in the waning seconds from the free throw line.

Update: Warriors pick Stephen Curry, trade him?

It doesn’t take long to piss of fans after you make them happy. The Warriors are allegedly in trade talks to send newly drafted Stephen Curry packing. Here’s the story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

How many ways do the Warriors want to piss me off in one year? One of these days, I’m gonna do a full on month by month expose of the Warriors’ ineptitude. Kinda like Bill Simmons’ on the Clippers here.

Lastly, will Monta Ellis wig out because he’s got another scoring guard clogging the point? How are Acie Law and Speedy Claxton going to contribute? Can we just dump Claxton? Why not?

The worst part about being a Warriors fan is not knowing if there is strategy or not. It’s like the organization is just winging it all the time. Disagree? Tell me the strategy because I’d love to understand what’s going on in Oakland.

My perfect Warriors lineup

Monta Ellis dropped 20 points in his season debut. That’s pretty good. And to top it off, the W’s almost (I know, almost doesn’t mean crap) beat the Cavs in a 106-105 loss.

Can I just say it: Monta, I’ve missed you dude. Makes me think of this commercial he shot, presumably before the moped incident.

Now in a perfect world, I’d have a couple of different pieces for the Warriors to work with down under. But I won’t complain yet until I see how the team gels with each other and whether or not there are no considerable injuries (Jamal Crawford’s got a thigh contusion) to hamper their rotation. But until that day, this is my perfect Warriors lineup.

  1. Jamal Crawford at the point. The sweet part about him, the reason he was brought in, is he’s a scoring point guard. It adds to the versatility that the entire team carries. I can’t help but think that thigh contusion comes at a bad time. Janny Hu, the Chronicle’s Warriors beat writer, notes the bad timing.
  2. Monta Ellis at the off guard. There was some talk about him doing some point guard duties before Crawford came into the mix (really, before the season) and I just don’t think that would be wise. He needs to be at that off guard spot and only there so he can focus on scoring. His production is important to the team’s turnaround.
  3. Stephen Jackson at the big, small forward. He can be a leader some days and he can be downright atrocious when he’s pretending that hand doesn’t hurt. I’d be surprised if Jack was any good without the talent he has around him. But for goodness sake, when they are there, he flourishes.
  4. Corey Maggette at the small, small forward. I know he’s been playing well as the sixth man, doing things for the W’s they couldn’t do when they spelled their starters before (which they don’t do much of thanks to Nellie’s seemingly seven-man rotation). But I think he needs to be in there from the opening tip-off to provide that necessary scoring option. If Kelenna Azbuike is worthy, he’ll come off the bench and do what Maggette’s done now. Same with Brandan Wright and those rookies Anthony Randolph and Rob Kurz. They need to step up and take this spot back for the power forwards. Or at least give Donny a reason to put them in the rotation (Wright is the only one getting some serious minutes, but he’s hurt right now). And does Ronny Turiaf even matter? WTF?!?!?! If a miracle were to happen and these guys were able to step their game up, I would love for Jack to move back to the small, small forward and let Maggette come off the bench to bring his explosiveness. Unfortunately, Donny has trust issues.
  5. Andris Biedrins at center. He plays hard and smart. I don’t really ask for much more from him because there’s not enough ball to go around to feed this guy. He just needs to keep his head down and continue to clean up the mess in the post. Eventually, Chris Mullin will find a suitable big man (if he hasn’t already) to help him out. Then we’ll start the two-year process of Nellie getting to know him, and possibly trust him. That’ll be a happy day.

The Kings are a joke

Not just any joke, but a running joke in my newsroom. It’s odd because people still challenge their ineptness.

The other day, the Warriors beat the Wizards 119-98 on Monday. In response, my boss says he think the Kings, who played the Wizards Wednesday, will beat Washington as well.

Maybe you’re not catching the drift, so I’ll spell it out for you. He thinks the Warriors and the Kings are on the same level. I was shocked. Really, I was.

The Kings suck. All they have to go on is Kevin Martin. Every now and then, John Salmons surprises me. Same for Spencer Dawes. But in general, the collection of people that wear those purple and white jerseys are losers. They’re hurting — hard. At 10-33 Friday, they’re one game away from tying with the bottom of the NBA barrel (Washington 9-33, LA Clippers 9-32 and Oklahoma City 9-34).

The Warriors aren’t far away from this territory either. They’re 13-30, far out of the playoff hunt and still looking for their first good run.

The difference is, the Kings have had their full lineup and star player for at least 20 games when Martin came back from injury. Monta Ellis is returning to the Warriors tonight after that famous moped incident he lied about. It’s his first game of the 2008-2009 season.

Here we are almost at the all-star break, and we’re just getting our star player. (If you didn’t know, I’m a Warriors fan. I know, it hurts inside some days. I’ll get over it.) How are we supposed to compete in the ultra-amazing Western Conference when we don’t even have the guy that spurred the W’s management to let Baron Davis go find himself in La La land? We can’t. We won’t. Hence, 13-30.

What’s the Kings’ excuse? Firing Reggie Theus? Please, he was caretaker for rebuilding phase the owners weren’t aware of. I wrote about that before the season started.

Oh, and the Kings lost that game to the Wizards 110-107.

Man, it sucks ripping these teams. But you know what, if they don’t want to get ripped then maybe they’ll start winning some games. Or at least beat the other teams that suck. Geesh.

Warriors fall short in opener

The DeMarcus Nelson experiment didn’t turn out so well in the Warriors’ first game. He played sparingly, only 14 minutes, and scored six points in his time on the court. He only had two turnovers, but it’s clear from the numbers Don Nelson is not favoring him.

Here’s what the AP had to say:

Oakland native DeMarcus Nelson was the Warriors’ starting point guard, parlaying a strong training camp into the chance to become the Warriors’ first undrafted free agent rookie to start on opening night since the club moved to the Bay Area in 1962. After Stojakovic hit three jumpers over him in the first three minutes, Nelson was pulled for Azubuike — but he returned with a handful of strong plays in the second quarter, finishing with six points in 14 minutes.

On the other hand, it appears Corey Maggette is reinvigorated in the Bay. He dropped 27 points and had eight rebounds.

(I feel like I can just read from the box score and make all kinds of assumptions.)

But the end result is still the same. Warriors lose 108-103 with Chris Paul dropping the go-ahead layup with 19 seconds left.

I’m pretty sure the W’s and Kings are hopeless

I still miss Baron Davis. But Ron Artest, not so much.

I imagine Davis’ gaping hole in the Golden State Warriors’ lineup will only get bigger as we jump head first into the NBA season. But as Don Corleone would exude, “Fugghet about ’em.”

There are slim hopes for Northern California teams and even slimmer hopes of maintaining the progress seen in the last two years at either the Sacramento Kings or Warriors. It’s setting the stage for either a huge surprise or the most precipitated duds in a basketball season since before Rick Adelman and Don Nelson (the second time) ventured the west coast.

Unfortunately, I have an end of the world approach when I look at my favorite teams. I looked at the San Francisco Giants before their season started and figured they’d touch 110 losses easy. I sized up the A’s and realized they were trying to lose — astonishingly. I looked at the 49ers and Raiders and still have yet to recover from all the wild shaking of my head.

(I’m still in a daze after the last few weeks. October has been rough.)

But where I was off in my assessment (+15 losses for the Giants), I was spot on in my evaluation of the talent. Or, I should say, the lack thereof. Let me not venture into the realm of absurd punditry but go so far to say that the Warriors will unequivocally be a red herring in the Western Conference as they get up and down the court with the Hornets, Spurs, Lakers, Mavericks and Jazz but get down on themselves because of a lack of a go-to player for two months and an inconsistent low post defense. The games
will be exciting, but the end results will be hard to swallow. There’s just no way to defend against Yao Ming, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitski, Andrew Bynum, Greg Oden and the formidable Carlos Boozer without addressing the issue.

Can Andris Biedrins, Ronny Turiaf and Anthony Randolph measure up? Their play will be the deciding factor in the Warriors’ success.

The Kings on the other hand, are have little going for them other than Kevin Martin. But you know that already. So I pose this question to faithful Kings fans: Who do you trade to get better fast?

You know that’s the only way to turn things around now, right. You also should know that trading is going to be tough because of all the contract bricks the Maloofs have been laying, there’s not much wiggle room.

Kenny Thomas, thanks to his $9 million salary and inability to crack the lineup, looks like a good option. But with his salary, he’s almost impossible to move. Sort of like Brad Miller. The overwhelming feeling is that the Kings are stuck with a lineup of role players and heavy contracts for at least a couple of years before they can get enough capital to go heavy in the free agency market come 2011.

In the interim, they have to hope John Salmons, Spencer Hawes, Francisco Garcia and Jason Thompson make impacts on the court every night. The young guys have to step up while the franchise is in such a delicate state of dismal, turnover and renewal.

The problem is they’ve already traded their tradeable pieces, with Mike Bibby and Ron-Ron sent packing last season. Now we have to sit around and wait till the Kings “figure it out” for two years and hope that some good comes of it.

Reminds me of those A’s.

I think I’ll pass. I can’t keep investing time into franchises that refuse to have a win now mentality. And unfortunately for Sacramento’s sake, they’re handcuffed for two years.

I’ll check in with the W’s two months from now after Monte Ellis returns and see if there’s something worth cheering then.