Game Thread: Happy birthday, Stephen Curry, have an extremely tough game against the Utah Jazz!

Not a great time to hit a skid, Golden State will need a whole lot to go right to come away with a win today

Wardell Stephen Curry, born March 14th, 1988 has taken the full ride with a Golden State Warriors franchise that drafted him. You know how as you get older, your parents will re-gift you some of your own artwork or whatever? Well, it might be time for the Warriors front office to repackage Curry’s famous ‘we’ll figure this out’ tweet and give it back to him while looking him right in the eye and nodding to let him know how serious the team is about getting back on top of the mountain.

I love this man.

The Warriors are in the midst of trying to figure out the next steps for a franchise that is trying to pull off a stunning recovery after Kevin Durant’s departure. In something of a gap year (again), the pressure on the Golden State front office is as loud and insistent as a tea kettle

The Warriors have dropped four straight, and enter today’s matinee against the #1 seeded Utah Jazz with a looming back-to-back against the Lakers on Monday.


GAME DETAILS

WHO: Golden State Warriors (19-19) vs Utah Jazz (27-9)

WHEN: Sunday, March 14th 2021 // 1:00 pm PST (woo hoo, no more daylight savings!)

WATCH: NBCSBA; NBA TV


Yes, the Jazz are indeed that good, sorry!

They say the opposite of love isn’t hate (because there’s still a sort of passion there), but rather indifference - and no team embodies that truth more than the Utah Jazz. Shaq told their star, Donovan Mitchell, that he doesn’t have what it takes. Rudy Gobert is without a doubt one of the league’s premier defenders, but is just as often mocked for his lack of an offensive move as he is praised for his defense. The team’s new addition, Mike Conley is one of the league’s most under-rated guards - though it’s largely the result of his frequent relations with the injured reserve list.

However they got here though, Utah is flying under the radar, despite holding the league’s best record. Jordan Clarkson and Derrick Favors are two critical support players that have been having great season, and their well-coached team appears to have few weaknesses.

The Jazz have the league’s fourth-best offense - which is really saying something this season! The team attempts more threes than any other team in the league and shoots efficiently.

They also have the NBA’s second-best defense, and… well let’s just say that it should be more than up to the task of containing the Warriors.

Maybe they’ll go easy on us because it’s Curry’s birthday?

Will the youth movement work for Golden State?

Forget about this game today for a moment. Step back and consider a broader trend in the NBA, and how the Warriors have grown their youth movement. It’s been five full seasons since the 2015-16 Warriors barnstormed the NBA, and the league has taken that old recipe to heart. As someone pointed out on Twitter, In 15-16 Warriors led the league in 3 point attempts by taking 33% of their shots as threes - five years later the Jazz lead the league with 45% of their shots as threes.

Are the Warriors getting left behind?

Ever seen this famous picture of a World War II bomber?

There was some nerd named Abraham Wald that looked at that picture and came to an opposite conclusion. The common thinking at the time from the military was that you should armor up the areas that are all shot. But Mr. Wald looked at that picture and flipped the entire thinking on it’s head.

By concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, survivorship bias can lead to overly optimistic beliefs because failures are ignored.

The Warriors franchise has been shot full of holes, but is still a viable machine because of the shooting brilliance of Stephen Curry (and later, Klay Thompson), but what if the team is armoring up the wrong strategic elements?

Again, no Klay Thompson, but right now, the Warriors offense is being stifled - and it looks a little too easy.

Over the past 15 games, the Warriors’ defense has been the 2nd most stingy, but the offense has been the third worse. It’s a recent blip in a pattern that increasingly looks like a bear market.

The Warriors pulled Nico Mannion and Jordan Poole back from the G League just in time to meet the buzzsaw of the NBA’s best teams… and maybe it sort of worked?

Using Synergy game data, we can see which players made the most of the shot attempts. With the usual caveats about small sample size, it’s hard not to notice that the two most impactful offensive players in the recent loss to the Los Angeles Clippers were two young guns: Poole (with 14 points on 10 shots), and our new friend, Angry James Wiseman (who tore up the Clippers 14 points on 7 shots in just 12 minutes of action).

The Warriors haven’t been drafting offensive players, specifically. Preferring to build around the strengths of the Splash Brothers, it seems like the franchise is past due to add some armor to the areas that are actually keeping this plane in the air. Not just scoring, but efficient scoring has been the hallmark of a Warriors franchise that is suddenly digging through their pockets looking for change (no, not the round shiny kind).

Predictions

Angry James Wiseman versus Rudy Gobert? Yes please.

Seriously though, the Jazz are going to sorely test the Warriors on both ends of the court. I don’t know that I’m ready to watch Jordan Clarkson light up the Warriors, but it’s going to take a cosmic-alignment level of good fortune for Golden State to pull this out.

Warriors by 10. 111-121.