Can Draymond solve the season of humility and paradoxes? (And why it likely won’t be Kuminga)
With Draymond Green back, the next nine or ten games will put the “get the ball to Stephen Curry (or Klay Thompson)” ecosystem on trial. It might even be just the next three matches, considering the Warriors will have four consecutive days Jan. 20-23 without any games, and can therefore use that time to implement new playbook stuff, depending on what happens at Memphis, at Utah, and at home vs. Dallas, with games every other day starting today for the next three.
This has been a season marked by humility: Klay evolving to pay less attention to stats splits, as he said on the podium, Draymond nearly retiring, Steph finally taking care of the ball (2.4 turnovers per game over the last five games compared to his 3.1 per-game career average), Steve Kerr coaching his butt off with multiple instances of different zone defenses particularly in the win at Chicago, not to mention the ever-changing starting lineups, Andrew Wiggins having to come off the bench for the first time since sixth grade, Jonathan Kuminga sitting down with Kerr after the report of someone in his camp saying the Denver loss was the “straw that broke the camel’s back,” the list goes on and on and on.
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The basketball gods have been serving Golden State a spicy version of humble pie. Heck, they even went so far as to bench Klay in the closing minutes of more than one game, after he scoffed at the notion — although if you’re nitpicking, that was probably more alluding to starting versus not starting rather than closing. And even Brandin Podziemski no longer found himself a starter right after boasting as much on social media on Christmas Eve, although that was mostly just due to circumstances beyond his control.
If I were the vocal leader of the squad, I would tell the team to shut up, quite frankly (unfortunately Draymond just got back from therapy and Chris Paul is recovering from surgery, so I can picture a quiet locker room). But I get it, a ten-year dynasty will breed arrogance. A lot of non-humble habits have reared their ugly heads and this season has been about changing for the better. Humility.
The Trinity of Steph, Klay and Dray, as well as its supporting cast, can’t get away with stuff anymore, whether that’s throwing the ball to the other team for run-out layups and dunks and then expecting to shoot your way out of that predicament, or crossing the line with refs or opposing players and getting ejected, but still somehow pulling out the win. Nah, they’re older and slower just a tad, while at the same time the rest of the NBA is younger, faster, longer, more talented, and smarter, just a tad. Both of those arcs converging at the same time makes the clock tick a lot faster, though.
And mostly for fans, it’s been either a season of understanding — what we try to promote here on all LGW platforms, particularly on our YouTube channel livestreams — or outrage. Those who tend to be constantly stressed out by daily life, who aren’t in a state of mind where they can learn or want to peel the onion don’t have the patience to explore the nuances of the culture of the Warriors.
If you’re not one of those people, the greatest thing to learn right now is that everything as of today is still based on getting the ball to Steph (or Klay). I’ve now written about this a few times, twice or more in the context of the fear that to opposing coaching staffs still have of the Splash Brothers going off. And don’t forget, getting the ball to Curry or Thompson is achieved through Dray, or rather getting a stop (probably affected by the former DPOY) and pushing the ball, so that some beautiful Hall-of-Fame-level action can occur.
The vision is as follows: Jayson Tatum, let’s say, shoots a three from the corner as Green executes an elite 7-foot-wingspanned close-out. He gets a piece of Tatum’s shot and the ball caroms to Wiggins, who outlets to Steph, who pushes and makes a hesitation dribble from the arc, faking a defender or two, barging a couple steps into the lane, then kicking the ball back out to Klay at the top of the break. With one of the quickest releases man has ever seen, splash! The Boston crowd starts to go, “Ooh!” even though they hate the Warriors.
Next possession, literally seconds later, Wiggs gets a steal, outlets to Dray, who then evokes memories of Magic Johnson’s handling of the rock on a break and, all in gorgeously fluid motion, sets a pick for Steph almost instantaneously after dribbling and shoveling the ball off to him in transition. One bounce of the orange Wilson ball by Curry and he bombs another triple, another Mona Lisa by the most epic shooter off the dribble the planet has ever seen.
Half of the TD Garden arena goes nuts despite the fact they’re all decked in green merch. They buzz in amazement of witnessing this live, even though they’re rooting for their hometown team, while the other half stays quiet, about to face palm, knowing that their worst nightmare sequence has just come true. JT and his crew lower their heads just a bit as they walk to their bench. They’ve seen this before. Timeout!
That’s “Warriors Basketball,” remember?
That’s the (fragile) ecosystem that’s been proven to win rings, that is nearly impossible to replicate, that drives a dagger through the enemy’s heart. Many fans have forgotten this vision. Unfortunately, all they know is the result. Most were never really aware of this process, this vision — which is a shame — but that’s fandom spanning the spectrum: there are casual fans, high IQ fans, and supportive fans, the latter two of which don’t care much to thumb-type emotions confined to 280 characters, so you never really hear a whole lot from them to be reminded of the vision (other than on my ManningCast broadcasts). Unfortunately the latter type of fans are also my really, really small target audience. But we have the best in-game experiences.We just do and I can’t describe it in words. 🤷🏻♂️ Come see for yourself, give us a try!
And so that paradigm is not changing, not just yet. There was an “all-in” buy-in by the entire franchise last summer when Joe Lacob green-lighted (no pun intended) Mike Dunleavy, Jr. to give Green a $100 million extension.
But… it’s now abruptly on trial, indeed, because Draymond’s absences and untimely other injuries and aforementioned on-court spates of humility have derailed the season so far, three games under .500 and in 12th place. Green has to not only come back, but never get ejected — a tech here or there is okay because that’s part of the game, but then again two technicals which is an automatic ejection is obviously really catastrophic, so maybe not! He must never get injured, either, in these crucial upcoming games prior to the trade deadline. Bottom-line: he must help lead the team to wins they are supposed to collect.
Namely, these wins are as follows: this afternoon at the severely depleted Memphis Grizzlies, Wednesday at the surging Utah Jazz, Wed. Jan. 24th at home vs the reeling Atlanta Hawks after those four days off, Sat. Jan. 27th at home vs the similarly struggling LA Lakers, Fri. Feb. 2nd at Memphis again, Sat. Feb. 3rd at Atlanta again on the second night of a road back-to-back, and Feb. 5th at the very vulnerable Brooklyn Nets.
Peppered among those matchups are games against strong teams such as Fri. Jan. 19th vs. Dallas, Thu. Jan. 25th vs. Sacramento (the second night of a home back-to-back, gulp!), and Tue. Jan. 30th at home vs. Philadelphia — Joel Embiid should be back by then.
Now, granted, you might get a game you should’ve lost but you won, and even vice-versa, but generally speaking you better win the games you’re supposed to win against teams that are lower than you in the standings or rankings (Grizz 2x, Hawks 2x, Nets), or right ahead of you (the Jazz and the Lakers). If you can’t beat those teams, then that’s a bad sign.
Overall, this means going 7-3 in the next ten games. Beyond that, if you don’t change the team before the Feb. 8th trade deadline, then you’re stuck with what you’ve got. And there’s no way Lacob will allow the team to be stuck with what they’ve got if what they’ve got doesn’t look like a playoff team.
Going 7-3 would put GSW at 25-24 overall on the night of Feb. 5th, hopefully after a win at Brooklyn, with a tough road back-to-back looming at Philly and Indiana. The trade deadline will happen before tipoff of the Indiana game and, because I’ve got Philly labeled as an “elite” Eastern team, I don’t know that I would be able to judge the Warriors based on the result of that Sixers game. That is to say, I am keeping this bar as low as possible, a minimum threshold to stay with the paradigm of The Trinity.
A little of that kinda happened in Chicago. Even famed ESPN sneaker head Nick DePaula tweeted the pic of Steph exulting after a JK and-one against two Bulls at the rim — it was right after Curry specifically looked for JK for a post-up:
Obviously Steph didn’t play in Milwaukee, but it seemed like Kuminga got most of his buckets through the usual ball movement, rather than, you know, “get the ball to JK.” With Draymond back, I just don’t see a lot of post-ups or any call-outs of “get the ball to” post entry sets for JK, unless they’re with the second unit and Dray off the floor (because of Green’s organic approach and setting the motion of the offense, whereas simply posting up Kuminga is a pretty slow-paced development).
Priority Number One is re-establishing The Trinity’s gravity-based actions. We’ll see how that unfolds after the next three games and then the three consecutive days off, then the game at home against the Hawks. But, theoretically, there could be a paradigm shift that ensures X number of touches for Jonathan — without needing to do a trade.
As far as I can tell, Anthony Slater of The Athletic did his best to try and extract this topic out of Kerr on the podium in Milwaukee. Now, I don’t know if Steve was deflecting the “I would think you’d need a secondary scorer from here on out” approach by Slater (imo), or if that thought kind of went over Steve’s head, and maybe the question needs to be asked again at the outset of the four days off coming up, but the response postgame Milwaukee was basically that JK was gonna get his points by finishing plays rather than starting them.
I’m sure this drove the outraged fans nuts, if they even knew about it (full transcript below, per usual, along with all the videos):
SLATER: We have talked plenty about like, you know what he gives you athletically and at the rim diving. What do you think he can maybe give this team as it kind of reforms, have that secondary scorer at times, give him the ball, let him go create? So what do you think he can give this team, maybe more in that role?
KERR: Yeah, I mean, that's obviously a huge component to what he can give to us, is the scoring and getting some easy baskets at the rim. And so we're really showing him clips every day, trying to get him to get to the rim, especially without the ball. He wants to attack, which is great, but we're trying to get him to understand if he gets to the dunker spot, finishes his cuts rather than staying at the foul line area, it improves our spacing and he's probably going to pick off two or three buckets a game just getting to the dunker, following – going to the offensive glass and running to that spot either in transition or after setting a screen and his tendency now is to kind of linger on the perimeter. I want him at the rim. He's one of the best in the league, finishing a lot better when he gets the ball in the paint, and so we're going to keep pushing him in that direction.
Look, I’m maybe the only guy covering the Warriors on a daily basis that continues to preach that the most beautiful basketball I’ve ever seen — and this includes Michael Jordan’s Tex Winter-Triangle-executing Bulls (ironically, as the team was just in Chicago) — is when Dray, Steph and Klay are clicking with their Kerr-proclaimed “organic” actions. Again, the “vision” described above.
And so, I’m maybe the only one who can relate with Joe, Mike and Steve, who will be self-assessing. We need to see this ecosystem broken — “Warrior Basketball” broken — before we call it dead or in need of a patch or upgrade (such as “give the ball to Kuminga”). Now, JK can still get his points via the ecosystem as described by Kerr to Slater, but doing so in this way is by definition not “get the ball to Kuminga.” You can only get the ball to someone else if you stop doing the “get the ball to Steph (or Klay)” thing. Or if you’re the pick-and-roll set of Chris Paul and Dario Saric, for example. Aside: I thought CP3-JK P&Rs always had great results, but we’re probably not gonna have that for a while as CP heals up.
Also, some of the game tape shows JK still having what I call “brain farts” which are particularly prevalent among young players (not named Podziemski, although lately even he’s had a few). Against the Bucks, Kuminga got a swing pass at the left arc, wide open. He didn’t launch the three, but also didn’t realize the lane was wide open, save for an off-balance and reacting Giannis Antetokounmpo. I mean, dude, attack Giannis! Hello?! Apply force! Dominate!
But no, JK faked a three, kind of had an indecisive split-second blank stare, swung the ball again and sort of stood there another millisecond, watching, just for a moment. These don’t register as hair-pull moments for outraged casual fans because they only see the result of the play. But it’s that process that leads to a late miss in the shot clock by someone else in that fateful possession. Casuals see the result as a bad miss and they blame the easiest target: Steve, because he looks wimpy and unathletic and unable to defend himself. Because Kerr is an easy and distant target, the angry ones thumb-type their madness towards him, a conveniently unaccountable transfer of the negative energy in their lives from one context to another. That’s just what Twitter/Xitter enables. I really hope those of you reading this aren’t addicted to that.
Granted, I’m nitpicking on JK. He has done plenty of things right and the recent boxscores are quite evident of that. I’m just saying, defensive breakdowns like these would make a coach hesitate before giving Kuminga one of the keys to the franchise (i.e., “let’s get the ball to Jonathan X number of times per game”).
And then lost in all of this JK talk is the brilliance of BPodz. Both coaches, Kerr and the Bucks’ Adrian Griffin (see video and transcript below), called him “crafty” on the podium. There are obviously zero plays called for him and yet Podziemski just produces. He play-makes, he hustles, he anticipates, he sees the plays before they happen, and that leads to buckets. If we merged BP with JK we’d probably have an All-Star, right?
And so it’s perfectly okay to say that JK should get his 20 the same way that Podz does, especially if most of the points are caused by the ball movement or the SplashBrothers’ gravity, or if the points come with the second unit and one of Steph or Klay. Or, really, whenever, just by doing all the things Kerr said above about “finishing the cut” and stopping the “linger at the perimeter.” If BP can do it just by doing what we’ve been doing, then so should JK. Wow, Steve is actually right! Imagine that! And I might add that, obviously, if Wiggs could become 2022 Finals Wiggs again through that same process, a lot of the problems are solved in terms of Slater’s quest for that “secondary scorer”. But, that’s an aside.
Incidentally, I wouldn’t be surprised if JK started at the 4 with Dray at the 5 against Memphis, who lost Steven Adams for the season and who also has Jaren Jackson, Jr. listed as questionable — could the “marquee matchup” really be Draymond vs. Xavier Tillman? 🤔 💀 Accordingly, I’ve got them as my thumbnail, as seen above, for the GSW-MEM live chat.
And then you’ve got Utah after that, and their frontline is rather small with Simone Fontecchio, Lauri Markkanen and John Collins. I’d love to see Dray just start at the 5 for both these games, which would turbo-charge the offense, but we’ll see (also vs. Dallas if Dereck Lively is still injured by then). This also means JK starting at the 4. If not, then I’ll hope to find an answer to understand Steve better, even though I do think I understand him more than anyone else who covers the Warriors.
Back to JK: so upon rewatching the film, I do see his warts, particularly on defense. When Dario Saric mentioned on the podium in Chicago that they were over-helping in the first half, it was because they didn’t trust Kuminga’s point-of-attack defense (namely, Steph and Wiggs on one particular play, which I dissected on-air during the GSW-CHI livestream). The one-on-one defense against Damian Lillard in Milwaukee which resulted in a bad reach-in by BP was the same theme, whether the Dubs are actually cognizant of that or not (that they don’t trust JK’s man-to-man perimeter defense, which particularly bad against Dame):
Podziemski did not trust JK and he reached in on Lillard’s drive. BP was actually correct thinking JK could not contain Dame (not a lot of people can, to Kuminga’s credit), so that’s why he instinctively tried the desperation hack, maybe tried to hit the ball instead of the wrist. At least that’s my reason for the bad foul. Ironically, after the whistle, Jonathan was exasperated by BP’s reach-in, as the team has obviously been instructed to stop those, and perhaps you and I were even shocked by the result because it happened to be Podziemski. But perhaps on a subconscious level, imo, BP never reaches in if he trusts JK as a defender. Btw, this distrust of Kuminga’s on-ball defense is particularly evident on film when JK is defending the ball-handler in the high pick-and-roll, as was the case in Chicago.
That’s why I temper those comparisons to Kawhi Leonard (their mid-range jumpers look eerily similar and I was told that either Bob “Fitz” Fitzgerald or Kelenna Azubuike made the same play-by-play comparison as I did, real-time), because JK is nowhere near the defender Kawhi was in 2014. Kuminga is obviously much guarding guys around his size and with similar lateral speed, such as Luka Doncic.
But JK tends to jab-step a lot on the point-of-attack, the most egregious of all being the Lillard one, above. As I mentioned, Jama Mahlalela strategically picked on Jonathan in Toronto’s sets in the loss to the Raptors at Chase Center. You look at the Bucks tape, Steve and Kenny Atkinson are screaming at Kuminga to drop from Giannis near the arc so as to help just a couple yards away on the hot-shooting Khris Middleton posting up. JK isn’t quite processing everything correctly on defense yet, so he has a long way to go on that side of the ball. I can see why he might cause an assistant coach to pull his hair out right now on that end of the floor.
But then again, Kuminga is only a third-year player. Heck, I don’t even know if Moses Moody is that much better on defense (particularly point-of-attack), although Moody flies to loose balls and puts his body in harm’s way, a clear indication of his desire. So, a third-year guy who didn’t learn fundamental POA or help defense on his way to the NBA is a third-year guy who didn’t learn fundamental POA or help defense, the proverbial “it is what it is.” 🤷🏻♂️ I can’t be mad at JK’s defensive acumen (nor Moody’s) as-is.
Which brings us to Wiggs. I can see why, at times, Steve will go to Wiggins instead of JK. It is almost always defense-oriented and when Golden State needs to protect a late lead, which sounds obvious as I write this, but outraged fans are, of course, simply oblivious to this and then they are also the loudest on social media platforms, as I mentioned — they’re also addicted to offense as a measure of whether or not a player should play.
The thing with Wiggs: the dribbling off his feet, stepping on sidelines, losing his grip on the ball, these are definitely mental errors, not physical. And so I wonder — and I might be totally off-base here — is there still some issue with his dad? And does Kerr give him such a long rope because not only is Steve a nurturing, caring, empathetic guy who uses positivity to give players confidence, but also once went through a tragedy involving his own dad?
And so we’re back to me, you and us as fans having understanding or curiosity vs. outrage or impatience, regaining our human spirit and, as Steph always says, “enjoying the process” as opposed to demanding wins with a more prideful current playoff seeding, and/or the subconscious decision to having humility rather than entitlement. I truly believe gratitude is the key to self-love and therefore happiness, so you know which persona I’m advocating.
Anyways: ten games.
KLAY/JK POSTGAME GSW-MIL
0:00 What did you like and not like?
KLAY THOMPSON POSTGAME GSW-MIL: “Well, I'll start with the bad news. I didn't like shooting poorly from the field. That's never fun. I thought I got great looks, but just one of those nights. What I did like was just our energy out the gate, especially coming off of back to back. I liked how we did shoot the ball overall and we fought hard. That's a very good team over there, obviously with championship aspirations. So being down a lot of guys, some of our best guys, I thought everyone played with great energy and connectivity, gave us a chance to win.”
0:43 How do you sort of view the defensive work?
“Obviously, a big problem on the homestand was better, very much better, in the third quarter last night after the first half. The night seemed pretty good until the fourth quarter. Yeah, I view it as something to build off and take the same mindset we came with these last two nights into Memphis. And I know we have the ability to win the next two and make this a great road trip.”
1:11 Steve talks about how you guys came into this road trip with a better spirit, compared to, well, to your last home games. How do you feel that, coming to the road trip?
“Just knowing how special it is, this opportunity we have in front of us to do what we love and to not pout or doubt ourselves when things don't go our way and to realize that, it's such a short window to be an NBA player that you gotta enjoy these moments with your brothers and try and just be great every night. It's a tall task, but it's what's required if you want to do something special. (Fiddles with microphone) I don't even think this is working. JK has gotten so much better with his pace and his ability to rise up over the defense in the mid-range, especially in his three-point shooting, has been much better as of late and his ability to get to the rim is one of the best at it on our team. And you forget how young he is, so he's gonna be a star one day.”
2:24 How much do you guys need, is just that bulk scoring, even as you get guys back and move forward?
“We need it. But yeah, we need him to just be aggressive and continue to get to the rim and get to the free throw line. And yeah, that's about it.”
2:54 Steve sort of echoed your point … sort of following up on the earlier defensive question, in what ways will (Draymond), obviously he will help the defense I would think, in what ways do you think he will help the defense when he comes back?
“His ability to communicate, get us into defensive sets, guard multiple positions, and then just be one of the greatest defenders that's ever played.”
3:23 Is that something, I mean, in your experience when you've been out for a while, that you, it's easier to pick up, get back in the flow defensively, maybe than finding your shot or finding your offense?
“Yeah, it should be easy for Draymond. He's one of the greatest to ever do it, so I don't see it being too tough on him.”
3:41 With Steph out, how do you feel like you guys did?
JONATHAN KUMINGA: “I think we did great. I mean we didn't get the win, but obviously as you see out there, everybody was playing hard. Everybody was really involved. And everybody was just playing hard on both ends.”
4:08 Have you consciously, these last two nights, gone to the rim more? With Steph out, is it more in your mind so that, okay, we need some more scoring? Or is that, how do you view sort of these last couple nights where you've obviously been?
“I mean, this is trying to figure it out what the team need from me to help us win. Obviously we didn't win today, but we won last night. So trying to figure out what the team really need from me, pretty much from everybody, to get that win.”
4:44 A lot of guys have been saying after the last two blowout games at home before heading out on the road, confidence was down and kind of feeling a little bad for yourselves and Brandin said, Steph and Draymond were pretty vocal I guess. What were those conversations as a team like to kind of snap out of that funk and get that confidence back?
“The confidence part is not having a problem. I mean, it's just everyday getting your mind ready and knowing that we have a game. And we're not just coming out here to lose because if we had to lose every other day, we might as well just stay home. And I feel like that's kind of helping everybody with the confidence part, to just come out here and play as hard as we can. Just give all you got on the floor, regardless of how many minutes you get or how many shots you get. So obviously, we think that it's going to help everybody gain their confidence back. And I feel like so far, everybody has had their confidence back. It's just a matter of time or whenever, we all gonna be back together healthy. And I think we're gonna, we're gonna roll.”
5:59 What do you think you got better at as a scorer this summer?
“I would just say knowing how defenders are really playing me. In the past I just put my head down and just trying to figure it out. But now it's like the game kind of slowing down and learning and just knowing that this is what I need to do to get to this point, and obviously involving everybody else on the team. Knowing if I attack and I don't got nothing to do, I can't score. I'm going to kick the ball to somebody who's open and just watching, feeling, figuring out what I'm good at. I think that's what’s kind of helping me.”
6:42 When you say the game's slowing down, what does that look like?
“It's just, you're just seeing, like, the way the defense is moving. Yeah, definitely. You're seeing how the defense are playing me most of the time. And sometimes teams going to put a big man on me. Sometimes teams going to put a small guard on me. So it's tough at the same time. But as the game slows down and just working every other day and just watching a lot of films with AV (Anthony Vereen) and knowing what angles I need to attack from, I think that's kind of helping me.”
7:11 Do you prefer a bigger guy on you or a smaller guy?
“It don't really matter. It don't really matter because every other day I work with different people and their stuff. I work with taller people, I work with smaller people to just figure out what angle is good for me to attack against.”
Do you know how many straight games you've scored, double digits?
Nineteen. I mean, does that, does that impress you?
“I mean, I wouldn't say it impressed me that much. I mean, obviously, I had all summer to go out there and just work out. Work out, get better, and come back and help the team. Obviously, things haven't really went the right way, but you can see a lot of progress. And like I say, as long as we get everybody back healthy together, I just think it's going to translate the right way. We're going to start rolling.”
8:11 Before the game, Steve described Giannis as like no other person on earth, no other player on earth, he's so unique. As someone who has to defend him, how would you sort of describe what it's like to go against him and how that's different than pretty much anybody else, I'm guessing?
“I mean, it's a lot of differences. On top of him being where he is, I mean, he's physical, he's tall, he's athletic, he moves fast, and a lot of I wouldn't say he's a big man. He moves faster than a lot of people that's his height. And him coming downhill, sometimes when you're trying to bump with him, you don't know how far he is from the rim. And he's taller, so by the time you know he's right at the rim. So it's definitely like being more physical with him. And you know how things go. He's a superstar. You cannot really be more physical with him. But obviously, just being more physical on him kind of help release more pressure on him getting to the rim easier.”
9:15 Did it feel like in the fourth quarter, even if you guys played pretty good defense, that he just kind of took over?
“Like I said, he's one of the best players in this league. He's going to find his way to the rim regardless. It's just a matter of just making him tired and just making him work extra than normal.”
BP/GRIFFIN POSTGAME GSW-MIL
0:00 What was it like being back here, seeing the crowd, being in the starting lineup?
BRANDIN PODZIEMSKI POSTGAME GSW-MIL: “Yeah, it was fun. Obviously we didn't get the W which is most important, but being back home in front of an environment that I've been around before and a lot of people that I know is definitely a surreal moment for me.
0:15 Steve talked about how you guys are sort of getting your spirit back after the last few games at home. How do you feel that?
“Yeah, we're just playing harder. we're playing for each other. And when you play hard, the basketball gods reward you. So I think the last two nights, everybody that stepped on the floor made an impact in a positive way. And even though we didn't come out with the W tonight, you could see flashes throughout the game, even with five, six guys out.”
0:41 How do you view where the team's defense is at? That's obviously a big issue, the homestand from last night, and today was pretty good until the fourth quarter, they scored 46.
“Yeah, I think it's a little bit tough, just because we have so many people out of the lineup. Rotations are kind of in a jumble and have been throughout the year. So when we get healthy and we have everybody back, I think we'll be solid. But most of it comes down to effort and wanting to do it. And like Steve said, I think these last two games we've shown that we want to do it. Obviously, NBA teams are really good at scoring the ball. But I think we're getting better, obviously, compared to those last two home games where we got blown out. It just didn't feel like we had any energy on defense or we cared.”
1:31 What are the conversations like? I mean, because you're saying, ‘We didn't feel like we had the energy. We didn't really feel like we carried the stuff.’ Just flipping it around. Like, is it everyone sitting in the locker room talking about this as a team? Like, how do you flip it from not having the confidence, not caring to?
“Yeah, it's actually kind of crazy to me because off the floor, we're probably the closest group that at least I've been around and then on the floor, sometimes we get a little disconnected. So it's kind of new to me. But our leaders, Dray and Chris and Steph, do a good job of talking in the locker room and making it a point. But you only can say so much right? At the end of the day, it’s on the people that are on the floor to go out and do it and if you don't have the energy and want and desire to do it, then your team's gonna suffer.”
2:23 We had a box behind us going nuts every time you were here. Did you have a group of people here?
“Yeah, I had a lot of people; ran into my 7th grade English teacher pregame. I haven't seen her in a while. But yeah, I had a lot of people here. A lot of people that I met along my journey which has been cool for me just to see familiar faces.”
2:44 Did your teacher assign you an essay?
“Nah, she's like, she said she's glad I went to military school, otherwise I would have been a troublemaker.”
2:52 You used the word surreal to describe tonight. At one point I looked up and the floor was kind of spaced and it was you going one-on-one against Giannis. You got past him. I don't think you scored, but was there sort of a surreal moment? This is the court, the games you came to as a child. And here you're here.
“Yeah. So I was actually here the day this building opened. I was a sophomore in high school and I got to meet Giannis. Just as a kid, as a sophomore in high school, you only dream of stuff like this. So being here the first day the building opened, being able to play here in high school and then coming here when I was with Illinois and not playing, just to have that feeling of so many people coming to watch you and not being able to step foot on the floor was kind of heartbreaking for me. But then, full circle moment, have all my family and friends here to watch me play. Thankfully, Steph took a rest and I got to start.”
3:52 What were the circumstances around you meeting Giannis?
“He's a pretty friendly guy. He's always out in the community. He just stopped by, little photo station and stuff like that. So it was pretty cool.”
4:05 You had that step back three over Giannis. Was that a memory for you to come back to?
“I mean, it was just in the flow of the game, just the kind of reaction. That's what I try to do. I feel like maybe the last three games I think I was like maybe 1-for-16 from three. Just felt like I always needed to make the next one and so just pressing a little bit and just kind of letting loose. I'm at home in front of all these people. I just kind of let go and let the game kind of flow and just get yourself lost in the game and I shot three out of five tonight. So I feel good going into Memphis and have a good chance to win.”
4:40 I think when Andre (Jackson, Jr.) enters in the third quarter, you guys are down five, immediately go on, I think 7-0 run. By the time he leaves in the fourth quarter, you guys are up seven. Just kind of, what did you think of the way that his energy helped with the game?
ADRIAN GRIFFIN: “No, I mean, he made big time plays. He's a big -ime player, man. He was a winner in college, has a motor like I haven't seen in a long time, imposes his will on the game. I mean, he just made big-time plays. He made winning plays. That's who Dre is. So I think it was his first double-double. We needed every rebound. He had six offensive rebounds. He's guarding the best player on the other side. So he's shaping into being a really, really special player in this league.”
5:31 I think Khris is five of five in the fourth quarter, 13 points, five assists. Just what did you see from him to kind of take you?
“Oh, Khris, we needed every single point. Khris is Khris. That's what he does, especially in the fourth quarter. He gets a rhythm and he gets going and I thought hhaving him on the floor as a general, and he's calling plays, he's getting us in the right spot, made some big time shots. So Khris was phenomenal tonight. Giannis was phenomenal. Dame was great. I thought we played some really good basketball. There was some stretches where – obviously we have to be better on defense – but there were some times where we were able to get some stops as well. So it's something to improve on. Just can't take any possessions off. You gotta play the full 24 seconds. You gotta box out, limit them to one, rebound. But there were some things to build on.”
6:31 I guess it's sort of off that at the first quarter, I think Dame had a dozen in the first quarter. How important was it that he was sort of aggressive again, second straight night and kind of set a tone for you?
“Yeah, when Dame’s aggressive, we kind of go as he goes, he gives us that kind of confidence and he's starting to feel – you could tell he's starting to feel a lot more comfortable out there. I think he and Giannis and Khris and Brook, they're finding the rhythm, but they have to fight for it. You have to. It's not going to be handed to us. We gotta fight for our spacing. We gotta fight for our execution. And when we do that, we're elite. We had 33 assists tonight. So I just love how we play for each other. The ball was hopping. We were making the right plays. Giannis had 33 points, but he's always still making the right play. And so that's important. It's important for the spirit of the team when we're playing for each other.”
7:36 Before the game you had talked about being prepared for whomever on the scouting report and how younger players maybe who don't play very much could have an opportunity. You guys made it tougher on Wiggins and Thompson, but as they got deeper into the bench Podziemski, his 10th start ever, what did that group kind of do against you?
“I mean the lefty was crafty. I love lefties because I'm a lefty so I got a special place for all lefties and he's crafty. He can shoot the three, made some tough finishes around the basket. I also think though it's important to start the game that you don't give those guys any confidence. We let them hit a couple shots. You see the ball go in, you want to jump on them early. But give him credit, he played tremendous, really great job off the bench. I think (Trayce) Jackson played well, they all played well, they made it a tough ball game that they easily could have laid down. But they got championship-caliber players over there. They made it extremely competitive, but I thought, we took care of business tonight and then we just have to get ready and it's a quick turnaround to get ready for Sacramento.”
KERR POSTGAME GSW-MIL
0:00 How do you feel just about how you guys did today?
STEVE KERR POSTGAME GSW-MIL: “I thought our guys competed really hard. Tough back to back, playing against a great team. I thought we really gave a great effort. The game slipped away from us in the fourth. They scored 46 points and felt like we had decent control of the game defensively until that fourth and then they got loose. But I'm really proud of the effort and The guys really fought.”
0:34 Was that your defense faltering in the fourth? It looked like a few plays, Giannis just sort of asserted his will.
“Yeah, there were a couple breakdowns. I thought the key was Khris Middleton got going and when he got hot during that stretch, we had to make sure that Giannis didn’t get free because we had to pay so much attention to Khris and there was a rebound off a free throw. That was a huge play. I think it turned into a four-point play. Couple plays where we wanted to double Giannis and he went to the rim before we could get there. But give them credit. They played a great fourth quarter. For the first three quarters, especially in the second, that's like 20-something, like below in the 20s.”
1:20 What was the biggest change that you saw defensively compared to the past couple of games?
“Just how hard the guys were playing, and that's all we've talked about the last few days is, we clearly lost our belief in our spirit, our edge, whatever you want to call it, those last two home games of our homestand and it was embarrassing for all of us. And the last few days, that's what we've talked about. Our guys have played really hard the last two nights, and that's the standard that has been set here for a long time. And as long as we play that hard, I'm good with it because, whatever the results are, I think we'll give ourselves a chance to win every night when we compete like that.”
2:05 We talked about Brandin being back in his hometown. How'd you think he played tonight?
“Brandin was fantastic, yeah. Without Steph, obviously we needed his offense and he came through in a big way. He's a really crafty player, he knows how to get to the rim, he's got that Euro step. He just has a feel and 10 rebounds, I think. It's one of the things we love about him. He just seems to be a step ahead of the play all the time.”
2:34 Seems like Jonathan has games where he's really locked in, others where he kind of just fades. And he obviously was very locked in last night. Looked early tonight like he might be fading, but then he snapped back to life. Did you, any sense of what got him?
“I mean, that's kind of how it is with young players; it's a little up and down, and I thought JK really stayed with it after the slow start, and he did a really good job of attacking, getting downhill. And he had a big, big scoring night, and he continues to grow. So he's doing a great job. I think he's feeling the spots to attack it. He's starting to understand spacing and feel where the defense is. He's not dribbling into traffic, had no turnovers tonight. Just felt like he attacked when he should have and moved the ball on when that was the right plan.”
3:37 We have talked plenty about like, you know what he gives you athletically and at the rim diving. What do you think he can maybe give this team as it kind of reforms, have that secondary scorer at times, give him the ball, let him go create? So what do you think he can give this team, maybe more in that role?
“Yeah, I mean, that's obviously a huge component to what he can give to us, is the scoring and getting some easy baskets at the rim. And so we're really showing him clips every day, trying to get him to get to the rim, especially without the ball. He wants to attack, which is great, but we're trying to get him to understand if he gets to the dunker spot, finishes his cuts rather than staying at the foul line area, it improves our spacing and he's probably going to pick off two or three buckets a game just getting to the dunker, following – going to the offensive glass and running to that spot either in transition or after setting a screen and his tendency now is to kind of linger on the perimeter. I want him at the rim. He's one of the best in the league, finishing a lot better when he gets the ball in the paint, and so we're going to keep pushing him in that direction.”
4:55 How has Wiggins played over these last two games?
“Yeah, and it wasn't his best night tonight. But I like having him, his on-ball defense is really good. He plays so hard. He didn't get shots to go down tonight, but I loved his game last night. And I just think it's important for him to stay aggressive. And we need his defense especially, but his scoring is obviously something that, he's been really consistent with in the past and hopefully he'll get there.”
5:35 Lester Quinones, you used a little bit tonight. It seemed like he gave you a little bit. Obviously, a two-way guy that you're not gonna be able to use that much. But what do you think of where he's gotten to?
“I like Lester. He’s got some pop athletically. He can get by people. He's unafraid. I thought he did a really nice job. He was a plus nine in his 17.5 minutes. He's a great kid. He brings really good spirit and energy to the team. Everybody loves him. And like I said, he's not afraid. He can attack and get to the rim and he's a good shooter as well. So Lester did a nice job tonight.”
6:16 You talked about the defense in the fourth quarter. Stepping back and looking at these last two games, do you feel like you made some progress there? That was obviously the big issue, the last few games of the home stand, the first half last night. Do you feel like it's taken a step forward? Or is it hard?
“I think so. I mean, the first step is just playing harder, you know? And I think the last two nights our guys have really played hard and competed, the whole way through. And that's non-negotiable. And I said it yesterday. Our fans booed us for a reason, in the New Orleans game and the Toronto game. We did not compete. And so we've gotten back to that, which is the standard. And now we've gotta improve, just in the margins.”
7:02 I kind of asked you this in the hallway last night about Draymond being out on the bench. But he is, like, even tonight, he was up talking to Kenny (Atkinson). And after we get defensive breakdown happened, he’s yelling at guys to do this and that. How much do you think having Draymond’s eyes and voice helped?
“Yeah, Draymond’s a huge help on the bench. He talks to guys during timeouts, during the game. He’s got a great sense of the game and personnel. He was talking to JK about, how to guard certain guys, which direction to send them. So Draymond is a huge help, and I look forward to getting him back on the floor.”
7:41 You said pregame, there's a chance of Memphis or Utah. Is that something you lobby for, or do you just let Rick come to Utah?
“No, it's Rick. Rick will tell us when he gets to play. So there's a chance it's Memphis, and if not, I'm hoping for Utah.”
7:53 Does Steph comes back for Memphis?
“Yeah. Yeah, Steph will be back. Thanks.”
GAME NOTES FROM GSW-MIL
hhh 0:00 refs: Zach Zarba, James Williams, Brett Nansel
2:20 tipoff! Giannis gets it in front
11m45 Q1 Klay bad body language
11m24 Q1 Klay misses layup, BP almost takes charge on fb
11m06 Q1 Klay still hot 3 top good
10m43 Q1 Klay heatcheck no good
10m07 Q1 Saric layup after slowness and clumsiness by Looney
9m45 Q1 Klay layup good after hard close out -- hard to not say Coach Bud and a team of assistance watched the Bulls-Warriors game
6:45 my trademarked YACK Brothers https://www.letsgowarriors.com/p/yet-another-coach-knows-donovan-yack-steph-klay
9m28 Q1 Giannis easy ATO post vs Saric
9m07 Q1 Klay playmaking but Wiggs misses kick three
8m45 Q1 Klay passed up a 3, assist to BP 3
8m15 Q1 Loon flat footed J after high off-ball BP for Klay
7m40 Q1 BP got into paint to Loon to Saric
7m20 Q1 Loon good D, Klay miss 3 top of fb (Klay claps in frustration)
6m50 Q1 good rotational D by Saric and Klay vs Khris
6m40 Q1 Klay eagerly shoots the def3 tech, mass subs: JK TJD CoJo
6m06 Q1 JK posted up, Dame fouled him, no call, 94ft corner 3 Dame to MB
14:45 analyzing the last play: Nansel missed the non-call
5m45 Q1 JK misses attack on Brook
5m24 Q1 Wiggs good pace J miss
5m12 Q1 JK and TJD block Connaughton, Klay to TJD 94 ft
4m40 Q1 Dame long strides
4m26 Q1 Klay can't catch a cut nice pass by TJD, tov given to TJD unfortunately
3m57 Q1 Klay rushed a curl, blocked by Conn
3m27 Q1 TJD misses another layup
3m24 Q1 JK not there for the Dame blast past Saric and TJD
2m33 Q1 JK rip-through layup (fouled?)
2m25 Q1 CoJo sells a bad screen by Giannis
2m19 Q1 BP cut via action, assist Dario
1m49 Q1 BP takes a charge on Portis
1m35 Q1 BP to TJD
0m45 Q1 TJD and JK missed cuts
11m45 Q2 Lester in the rotation, Klay misses open off TJD
11m30 Q2 everyone looked at Khris 3
11m22 Q2 JK entry pass to TJD lob vs Conn
11m09 Q2 JK drops too far on Khris, half-guarding Giannis with Klay, Kerr yells at timeout (no CoJo in that group) -- I think Kerr was yelling at kids to talk to each other
10m55 Q2 TJD slips screen BP, scores over Giannis
10m35 Q2 TJD good
10m20 Q2 JK breaks AJ's ankles, Les 3 splash
10m02 Q2 Kerr Kenny yell, great team D as Portis misses jump hook over JK (didn't foul)
9m51 Q2 BP face, Kerr fun
35:00 Kid n Klay -- best youngster sequences of the year, TJD with the avoidance of def3
9m45 Q2 fullcourt press
9m28 Q2 Klay fouled by Giannis? (good close out by TJD)
9m05 Q2 Les to TJD
8m45 Q2 Klay probes, Les floater, TJD
8m12 Q2 Khris good J, no bad body language
8m06 Q2 JK downhill vs Portis
7m40 Q2 JK vs Brook
7m12 Q2 BP Manu hesitation dribble step
7m07 Q2 BP steal
6m30 Q2 Wiggs off the board attack
6m20 Q2 BP pressure, MB tov
6m05 Q2 Les lefty off the board via pick Saric
5m46 Q2 JK 94ft
4m42 Q2 great Wiggs POA vs Giannis
3m30 Q2 Wiggs hangs pass to CoJo 3
3m00 Q2 CoJo good job seeing Giannis on him, dish to Dario, fouled by Dame
2m33 Q2 Klay falls asleep on Giannis
1m57 Q2 Klay 3 via great screen by Loon, pass Dario
1m15 Q2 Wiggs J no good, good double pick Loon Dario
0m43 Q2 BP step on Giannis no good
0m09 Q2 Giannis travel vs JK POA
0m04 Q2 good give and go inbound to JK, fouled?
1m02 Q2 BP good recover, Dame scores
59:00 looking at some nicknames for the kids, no better feeling as a coach than the kids esp TJD executing your defensive game plan
10m55 Q3 Loon needs to adjust and leave bec Brook is doubling post, Wiggs 3 saves the day from a cliff
10m12 Q3 Klay Dario back rim 3s Klay claps in frustration I don't
9m50 Q3 BP hashmark 3 late clock vs Dame exasperated
9m35 Q3 Loon rim protects vs Giannis
9m23 Q3 Loon another oreb, clears out for Wiggs, attack scoop!
9m00 Q3 good switch by Klay, Loon gets a call on Brook
8m37 Q3 Wiggs half-no look? to Loon dunk! Giannis worried about Dario on spacing
7m40 Q3 Wiggs breaks Khris ankles, bench excited but misses
7m10 Q3 BP jab jab side step over Giannis 3
6m40 Q3 side step 3 vs bad P&R
5m55 Q3 JK argues non-call, not sure if he could've gotten back but at least hustle back, should be a rule that nobody on their first contract is allowed to argue
5m20 Q3 JK forgets shot clock, Steve not happy, more demonstrative lately
5m00 Q3 kickball on JK not called, yet another fuzzy piece of the NBA rulebook
4m14 Q3 Klay good D on Giannis POA, travel
3m45 Q3 Klay open 3 miss, bad jump for ball, JK good closeout on corner 3 miss
3m20 Q3 Saric Croatian magic vs Giannis
3m05 Q3 Saric good D vs Giannis downhill
2m53 Q3 Dario gets fouled on reverse, Dray tells the team something (CoJo, Les, JK, BP)
2m35 Q3 JK skies for block on Dame
1m40 Q3 Dame and1 on BP reach
0m45 Q3 JK downhill difficult
0m13 Q3 Chris Livingston def3 BP miss FT
1:39:00 are the Bucks a super team? Khris?
11m27 Q4 Klay and TJD play hot potato
10m51 Q4 Les blows a slip layup
10m15 Q4 Klay clutch 3 via TJD
9m16 Q4 Les oreb in between 4 Bucks (Klay miss 3)
8m44 Q4 Air Kuminga as Portis backs up on the downhill attack and1
8m25 Q4 good close outs but JK forgot about Khris for 0.5 seconds
8m03 Q4 JK 3 over Giannis, called for the screen by TJD
7m52 Q4 Giannis superhuman over JK coupla foreigners and1
7m36 Q4 Saric downhill again vs Giannis hesi
7m10 Q4 JK blocked by rim, mistimed
6m27 Q4 MB over Wiggs helping Dame
5m40 Q4 BP steal oreb swing
5m03 Q4 Dario tov on kick out, but JK brought Giannis
4m46 Q4 Dario again bad pass to MB
1:58:00 analyzing the bad JK cut crowding it for Dario
3m44 Q4 Klay 3 curl via Loon after Loon got fouled no call
3m08 Q4 Klay miss curl open
2m55 Q4 Klay bad foul Khris 3 and1 seems mad at himself
2m40 Q4 BP Manu-like crafty fake for the scoop
2m20 Q4 good trap by Klay Loon, BP would've had the charge
2:03:30 their Big Three has 27, 27, 24
1m51 Q4 Klay tov lob to Loon
1m20 Q4 BP bad trap of Dame, gave up sideline
2:10:00 JK has been a machine tonight, as good as double-digit loss as you can ask for
0m08 Q4 JK left ankle tweak vs Giannis trap
2:14:00 once again on everything predicated on "get Steph or Klay the ball" including Dray as the key cog https://www.letsgowarriors.com/p/should-steph-curry-ask-kerr-kuminga-pet-plays
2:18:30 we got some good FGAs and 3PAs up (97 FGAs to 91 and 35 3PAs to 31)
2:21:30 somebody comes on for the first time and complains about Kerr, we turn the tables in the chat
2:27:30 @Nikhil I saw today why Steve benches players those who are hot...he knows their endurance and manages their minutes. that's a halloffame coach. great to have him -- Also that in the NBA, the players are awesome and they SHOULD be able to not depend on rhythm as much as the average guy. Just a thought.
2:28:45 STEVE POSTGAME AUDIO
2:34:00 I have to explain yet again why everything revolves around Steph Klay Dray (small sample size so far due to Dray) and why you can't hand any car keys to JK yet, even Nick DePaula noticed something about Steph to JK with Dray out:
2:38:15 29 NBA coaches are really worried about Steph and Klay, in 2022 I was reminding people that the vision of Warriors Basketball is Dray closing out on a Jayson Tatum corner 3, deflected shot for a blocked shot, rebound Wiggs, outlet Steph, some action with Dray, draw two guys or more, kick out Klay, 3-ball in 7 seconds or less -- this does not include JK in the vision even though he is the future and will be but only when this vision is proven wrong
2:44:00 BP POSTGAME AUDIO
2:50:00 no one's talked about if Draymond gets injured, he basically needs to have a perfect comeback on the floor, injury-free, ejection-free, and he needs to fulfill the vision
2:53:00 if you're on a cliff, the worst thing you can do is think about falling off it
2:55:00 gotta be patient on the trade, no-trade thing too. Can't rule out trades. Staying in the middle right now is the best advice.
2:57:15 just like there is a mathematical possibility of us playing like 2022, there is also a possibility that we suck and it's time to go away from The Trinity.
2:59:30 on JK's ankle I would advise just looking for Slater's updates because he seems to have sources with the training staff
3:00:00 yep underlying theme this season is humility
3:01:15 Draymond playing in Memphis would be huge
3:02:30 KLAY POSTGAME AUDIO
3:06:45 But I'm saying, it's not time yet for the adjustment. Granted, there can be disagreement on that. Don't get my dad started lol -- from my angle, it would've been out of character. It might be philosophical. I want to see the beauty in life, some people want to nitpick, oh well.
3:12:30 JK POSTGAME AUDIO
3:22:00 @D VDV -- on Slater asking JK and probably doing a "feature" soon, when a reporter asks a player a lot of questions in a row (albeit the room is near-empty in MIL), chances are they will write a big article on that topic coming up, I go on a long-winded explanation of NBA media and Stephen A. Smith, Kendra Andrews, etc.
3:30:00 on finding happiness in my inner world when Amy asked about whether I'd rather be at the games
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