Kuminga played the best on Xmas + Podziemski: Warriors only looking for 3s or forcing shots late
I’ma start off by cutting the old guys some slack. Even though Jonathan Kuminga and Brandin Podziemski played the best on Xmas, keep in mind the 11:30AM tipoff and the altitude of Denver.
I used to get to the arena three hours before every tipoff. Why? Because that’s when the first bus arrives, maybe even before that, and that’s when the young guys take the floor for pregame routines. And as some of you know, our YouTube channel was built on nearly a decade of workout footage, among other things.
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After the youngsters it’s, of course, the veterans doing their pregame workouts the closer and closer you get to tipoff, although Stephen Curry has been widely reported as doing his stuff early before the crowds show up — and he did the same that day.
So by my calculations, to arrive at the arena by 8:30AM, the “first bus!!!” (Shaun Livingston voice, per this…
…and many other examples) needs to leave the team hotel no later than 8:00AM, which means most human beings would need to set their alarms no later than 7:00AM.
That’s a pretty grueling road trip considering they boarded the plane for Denver the previous afternoon and, as I said on the livestream (games notes at the bottom per usual), this was essentially a back-to-back game especially if you consider the human body adjusting to the “mile-high” altitude — tons of “5280” boasting utilized by the Nuggets’ marketing team, if you look around Ball Arena. Incidentally, my behind-the-scenes (aka “BTS”) video for the Denver trip is on the way, I’ll work on it after publishing this article.
[UPDATE ABOUT FIVE HOURS AFTER ORIGINAL POST: An insider tells me, “Yes, to say the least (the team was affected by the early tipoff). They were all talking about it the day before on how they need to sleep earlier than usual, how it was going to mess up how they usually eat before a game, their usual routine on game day, etc. Good thing it was only an hour time difference too between SF and Denver, but that did play a small factor as did the elevation.”]
But throwing all those reasons aside, as I say all the time on the livestreams, let’s call a spade a spade. I counted no fewer than three times when Podziemski bailed out either Curry or Klay Thompson with a hustle play. And in the words of Steve Kerr (describing Curry, as it were), Kuminga was simply “sublime”.
I’ll make you read some more here, but even a seemingly after-the-buzzer JK sounded a little frustrated, presumably from the locker room (more on this, below):
“I’ma keep it real with you,” the Golden State Warriors forward said, adjusting the sleeves on his coat until it draped perfectly. His demeanor and tone matched his attire. Smooth. Certain.
“Me with the ball,” he continued, “nobody’s guarding me.”
“But sometimes,” Kuminga said, “I’ve gotta take that away to make sure my OGs get the ball. That’s where it’s confusing. Sometimes, I come out the game not knowing what I did. And that messes with my head. It’s like, ‘What they want me to do?’ I can pass and I can do different s—.”
“Yeah, I am a difference-maker,” Kuminga said. “I know I am. But it’s not up to me to do certain things. How can I say it? It’s not up to me to control my minutes. I feel like I’ve done that. But the last voice ain’t mine. And it’s not easy because I know how to score the basketball. I know how to pass. I know how to do different things on the floor. But it’s about putting all that together. With the people we have on the floor, it’s just tough to put it all together. I’m trying to figure out how to manage that.”
“We are good, man,” Kuminga said. “We can beat anybody in this league and make everybody feel that ain’t nothing changed. We’re still that good. It’s getting better. We just have to figure it out.”
That was The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson with the exclusive quotes from Kuminga: https://theathletic.com/5161331/2023/12/26/warriors-jonathan-kuminga-depth-upside/?source=emp_shared_article
The article headline is prefaced with Thompson’s last name. I don’t know if that’s a New York Times thing (they bought out The Athletic awhile back) where they explicitly need to title an opinion piece with the author’s name. But I also don’t know if that’s Marcus purposely labeling it an editorial out of respect for Warriors PR guy Raymond Ridder and the team, because taken out of context and most definitely without MT’s last quotes, those words can be quite damaging to locker room cohesiveness.
Luckily most aggregators don’t go that granular into The Athletic’s articles lol. Let’s call a spade a spade: aggregators mostly get their outrage clickbait from the tweets of others, not by perusing articles. The NY Times has enough integrity to not quite the most incendiary words of an interview for their and The Athletic’s tweets. Whew!
Now, whenever JK starts saying something with, “I’ma keep it real with you,” you know you’re about to get something spicy and typically with at least a tinge of frustration. And I don’t mind him going off a little bit, especially when he’s absolutely correct and it was right after the game, presumably from the locker room because Kuminga did not take the postgame podium.
Speaking of which, here are some podium quotes from BPodz taken from the transcript below, which allude to the same thing:
Reporter. As one who likes to, like, throw and get in the paint, do you think late in games you guys probably do that more, just get into the paint, breaking the defense?
BP. “I think we do need to do that more. I think when we're flowing, just throughout the game, we do a good job of touching the paint, getting it out, but I think a lot of times late game, we just try to get a three or force it into somebody's hands. Just take what the defense gives us and I think we'll be fine.”
As I said on my ManningCast vs Denver (clickable thumbnail way below), I think what’s happening is that the old guys sometimes play “old”, especially on a cleverly disguised back-to-back. I think that the team still heavily revolves around the good (and bad) play of Steph and Klay.
If you read the play-by-play game notes at the bottom, you’ll see that Klay played poorly out of the gate, then had a good start to Q4, then closed poorly again. It’s just hard to deal with that if you’re the coach. Your old Hall-of-Fame vet shows you good stuff for about four minutes in the closing frame, which builds trust, then when you put him in again, he flounders on both ends. Game lost.
In hindsight, can you learn anything from that? Would it have made sense not to give Klay the chance at the beginning of Q4 to redeem himself, which he did, and go with the consistently hustling Moses Moody? I mean, that is literally a tough call, anybody that has coached a team with nine or more solid players knows this (rec league teams with up to five good dudes and three or four scrubs on the bench don’t count).
At the macro level, like Andre Iguodala likes to say, it’s a gift and a curse. It’s going to be extremely difficult navigating this for Kerr, especially if the vets have off nights during the playoffs. Have good spurts then bad is just the process of getting older. And we haven’t even talked about the forthcoming integration of Draymond Green and Gary Payton II.
And that’s where we can start getting into the discussion of Steve. I do think his calm, caring, open-hearted approach as is the Warriors culture behind closed doors (99.9% of Twitter, I mean Xitter, doesn’t know this) will work wonders. Can another coach pull that off, figuring out a way to slowly ramp down our Hall of Famers while ramping up our young sprites? Erik Spoelstra? Tyronn Lue? Mike Brown? Nah, I think Kerr is the right guy for this transition. And I don’t know how long this inevitable transition will take, because as I often preach, you’ve got to learn to enjoy the process rather than be addicted to predicting it. That’s applicable to life itself.
But anyways the good news is, it looks like there may be a clear path to the passing of the torch. BP and JK literally played well enough, imo, to guide the team to a victory against the defending champs, with a 2x MVP in Nikola Jokic and rising superstar Jamal Murray wreaking havoc from the free throw line and perimeter, respectively. The best play of the game, as noted, was when JK slipped a screen and sped into the lane, catching the pass and drawing Murray’s fifth foul as he couldn’t help but leave Chris Paul in the corner to help.
Trust me, Steve and his staff will have seen what BP and JK did on film.
What I’m worried about is the humility of the vets. I can already see it with Klay and Dray; they’re the fiercest competitors on the planet. They don’t want to relinquish their roles as top dogs. When fully healthy and at tip-top conditioning, they’re still extremely deadly during closing moments of games, and opposing coaches will scheme based on a premise of fear of the SplashBrothers draining threes and blowing the roof off the arena — and you know from my BTS videos that they very well can make opposing fans scream in horror or amazement in their own venues, even during the playoffs. Plus, DubNation travels well.
Steph, of course, is the exception to the transition; no explanation needed on that, and yet he had a couple hero shots not fall in Denver, too. Curry needs to be on the floor closing a game, period. Disclaimer on Draymond: not enough sample size yet, ask me after Game 82. Disclaimer on Klay: I never said he’s washed. I’m just saying every now and then, the engine stalls and the fact that it happened during a quasi-back-to-back, 🤷🏻♂️
One huge caveat: the above is all based on my detailed in-game notes and memory. I mean, I’m often right 😏 but I do still want to go back to the official play-by-play and game film to confirm my feeling that what I saw from BP and JK in the first three quarters was good enough to defeat the Nuggets without Steph and Klay needing to splash. I’ll work on that after the BTS video, so probably tomorrow and maybe we’ll get something of this ilk from Kerr on the podium after practice Wednesday.
POSTGAME GSW-DEN TRANSCRIPTS
How do you feel you guys played in general?
STEVE KERR POSTGAME GSW-DEN: “I thought we played okay. I think we can play better for sure. I thought the ball didn't always move like it could have. We only had 23 assists. Didn't shoot it particularly well but you go on the road against the defending champs, you gotta play your A game and we didn't play our A game.”
Jokic finished with 18 free throws. I mean, you guys were clearly upset with some of the calls. Just what did you think about, how big a factor was the way he was handling that today?
“Yeah. I have no problem with the officials themselves. They're all across the league. We have really good officials. I have a problem with the way we are legislating defense out of the game. That's what we're doing in the NBA. The way we're teaching the officials, we're just enabling players to BS their way to the foul line. If I were a fan, I wouldn't have wanted to watch the second half of that game. It was disgusting. It was just baiting refs into the calls, but the refs have to make those calls because that's how they're taught. So, I have a real problem with the way we've legislated defense out of the game in this league. And the players are really smart in this league and for over the last decade or so, they've gotten smarter and smarter, and they're just — we have enabled the players, and they are taking full advantage, and it's a parade to the free throw line, and it's disgusting to watch. Thanks. (Leaves podium.)”
How'd you feel like you guys played overall tonight?
BRANDIN PODZIEMSKI: “I thought we played great. I think the start of the game was a little slow. I think the first group kind of was looking to Steph and Klay; a lot of times we were wide open, I think that second group that came in did a really good job. I think collectively we did a good job as a team, but I mean the fouls, it's kind of hard to get in the rhythm when it's free throws after free throws.”
Yeah, I was going to ask how much of that whistle sort of impacted the flow?
“100%. Every time the clock stops and we’ve got to take it out the net and they get a set defense, it just makes it tougher for us; so we just gotta play without fouling. It’s hard with the rules. Players are good at selling fouls. And Jokic is four for 12, which we love, but he shoots 18 free throws.”
The defensive effort, dealing with that pick and throw, what did you see from, like, why you guys did so well on that?
“I think it starts with our guard, whoever’s on the ball. and then our big out to touch and we gotta help our big out by getting in front of the ball in case he hits Jokic and then just let Jokic play one on one. And I think for the most part, we did that, I think it's a couple of tough shots, but I mean, they're good players, too.”
As one who likes to, like, throw and get in the paint, do you think late in games you guys probably do that more, just get into the paint, breaking the defense?
“I think we do need to do that more. I think when we're flowing, just throughout the game, we do a good job of touching the paint, getting it out, but I think a lot of times late game, we just try to get a three or force it into somebody's hands. Just take what the defense gives us and I think we'll be fine.”
You had five steals as you've been playing how do you see yourself evolving as someone that can recognize moments like that? What are you used to?
“Yeah, I just, I don't know. I couldn't tell you how I do it, but I just see it and I do it. I guess I have a good feel for the game. Like I said, try to impact winning on both sides of the ball. Playmaking, rebounding, steals, whatever the team needs, and I think I did a good job of that tonight.”
You got your seven straight at home coming up. How big does this kind of moment in the season feel? You're 15 and 15, and it feels like you can kind of go either way, but you got a seventh straight at home.
“I think we can go on a seven-game win streak. I don't see why not. We gotta bunch of good teams coming to the Chase. But I think our home court's better than anybody's in the NBA, and maybe some of those calls that go one way on the road might go our way at home. So I think we can win all seven and go out east and win those four, too.”
I know you missed the last two games. How are you just kind of feeling generally?
ANDREW WIGGINS POSTGAME GSW-DEN. “I'm feeling better. I was a little under the weather, but I had a good day. I had a good workout yesterday. And it felt good for today.”
Been a couple of good games for you before and after the illness off the bench. What does coming off the bench do for you mentally, if anything?
“Oh, just stay aggressive. I come in, and my mindset is just to be aggressive playing with CP, Dario, BP, all the guys in the second unit, Just getting after it.”
You had 5 fouls in 28 minutes and the whistle today has become kind on top of the conversation. What did you think of it and how difficult was it to defend?
“I mean, it's difficult for sure. You know? I feel like every time you touch somebody, it's a foul, you know? But just kind of play through it. That’s the way things are being called. So I guess we know; everyone has to adjust to how it goes.”
How much did it impact the second half? Do you view that as the factor on why you guys kind of lost?
“For sure, it's tough. It's tough, when they're shooting free throws every other possession, for sure; it slows the ball down. again, easy baskets and their defense set on the other side. So it's definitely tough to play against.”
How important, I think you got a seven straight at home, does this feel like a kind of pivot moment, stretch?
“For sure, we gotta protect home court. We know how good we are and how good we can be. We just got to stick to what we're doing and keep playing Warriors basketball.”
The free throw line, we kind of touched on that… 18 free throws. Steve kind of had a broader point of things. They're legislating defense out of the game in some ways. I mean, what's just kind of your general overarching thought on how games at times are being played?
STEPHEN CURRY POSTGAME GSW-DEN: “I mean, it does cater to the guys that can sell calls. And when there's physicality, it's tough because it's inconsistent at times on either side. Just what is, like, what's the tone of the game. And from game to game, it changes. That's the nature of basketball. But like a night like tonight where you feel like there's physicality on one side and then kind of ticky tack on the other, and then they get into the bonus and it changes the complexity of the game. And, especially, it's not like we don't foul. I'm not saying that. It’s just, consistency is key when it comes to understanding how you can defend in the game. And I know what Coach was talking about, so it was tough. The night slowed the whole game down. Obviously he made every free throw and changed the momentum, played into their hands, and until things change you obviously have to adjust, but it was frustrating.”
On top of that, what did you think of the game overall, and, you said it a little bit, but how much did that swing, the foul calls swing at the end?
“It just, it's more frustrating because we were still, we had, it was a one point game, but six minutes, five minutes left, something like that. So you know we played well enough, despite the way I shot the ball. We still had a chance to win, so those are the tough ones to swallow when you didn't play as well as you could have or as efficient as you could have, defensively, Of course, the game gave yourself enough of an opportunity. Our second unit was phenomenal again tonight. But couldn't open the game up because the game was slowed down. So, good lesson to learn when we face them again. We know how Jokic plays, and we should be ready for the next one.”
How proud are you with Kuminga to where you guys want to go?
“He gives us a huge boost. I mean, we've talked about it a lot. Applies pressure to the rim. He's knocking out open shots defensively, understanding where he's supposed to be, how to guard on and off the ball. And he just plays at a different pace that is fun to watch, so gives us a lot. And, I know me and him tonight, terrible plus-minus, but you start to find a chemistry of. where to get him the ball, how he can attack, and him being able to use his athleticism and his ability to play one-on-one when necessary, but also can play that warrior basketball read and react stuff, and he's gotten a lot better at that too, so. It gives us a lot.”
How big do you view the next seven games? All seven at home. You have the 15-15 (win-loss record). How vital do you think it is for you?
“It's huge because it will give us, hopefully, some breathing room. We've been chasing that .500 number. We were there for one game. But protecting home court, taking advantage of the schedule. I know we play some good teams, but it can give us some breathing room to, again, establish our identity, who we are, understand that, we don't want to be chasing too much later in the season. And we're going to hopefully infuse some guys back into the lineup at some point. So that'll be, that'll be key for us. But big stretch before tonight we took advantage of that home stretch and we gotta do it again.”
GSW-DEN GAME NOTES
0:54 Jokic wins tip
11m25 Q1 bad transition by BP
11m00 Q1 Klay steps out of bounds (2 brain farts in 45 sec)
10m25 Q1 even more bad transition (AG missed 3)
10m10 Q1 Klay loses the ball
9m40 Q1 Steph hero 3 no good
9m10 Q1 BP first good play oreb Klay reload 3
8m25 Q1 BP great help on Klay, AG misses 3
8m00 Q1 Steph lost the ball, BP recovered and made something out of nothing
7m50 Q1 MPJ dunk, Klay loses MPJ
9:45 I had said during the Portland game not to bring that to Denver
7m20 Q1 JK great at putting pressure at rim last option
7m00 Q1 MPJ 3 past Klay curl
6m40 Q1 JK good closeout
6m40 Q1 MPJ 3 over Klay
6m00 Q1 CP throws ball behind Loon
5m30 Q1 Klay good hack of MPJ
5m00 Q1 CP leaves KCP open 3
4m55 Q1 JK causes AG 2nd foul with power (no more finesse, credit A.Vereen)
4m30 Q1 MPJ dunk vs Wiggs
4m10 Q1 JK downhill with beauty scoop
2m55 Q1 more atrocious D as Jokic feeds dunk on ATO
2m05 Q1 Wiggs horrible pass to TJD
1m15 Q1 TJD dunk via Dario, they forgot about TJD in trans, 2nd timeout called by Malone on Xmas at home in Q1, I wish Steve would show some grinch, even in jest, let's have him grinch out every now and then
0m45 Q1 CP3 good play design to get Dario vs Braun
0m30 Q1 BP steal
11m05 Q2 MPJ easy 3 (2), he's hot
9m10 Q2 bad tov by DEN, they have 4 tov as well, we only have 2 fouls since tipoff
9m00 Q2 CP 3s are back! (1 for his last 16 over 5 games, only 29.7% this season)
8m42 Q2 laser pass by Jokic to Q, Weems and Seth and Rubin have a laugh
8m35 Q2 Saric blows past Jokic
8m20 Q2 BP helps out Klay on the entry vs AG, has bailed us out at least 3x
7m30 Q2 BP outlet to Klay but why? then Klay early curl 3
7m10 Q2 JK bad pass to BP
6m55 Q2 Steph shoots a long 3 with 18 on shot clock
6m00 Q2 AG left wide open 3, gotta be scouting report, seems we're leaving him open
49:15 I feel like Steph and Klay don't wanna be there
55:00 high altitude esp after just getting on plane
5m46 Q2 BP 2x tov crazy
3m51 Q2 Steph stepped on sideline
2m57 Q2 CP great closeout on MPJ
1m52 Q2 Loon couldn't catch the ball from Steph
1m20 Q2 Loon should've gotten and-1 vs Jokic
0m35 Q2 Klay travels
1:05:00 amazing that we're up by 1 at half, been awhile since we wore the blue jerseys, no Xmas jerseys
1:07:15 weird game where BP will bail out Steph and Klay then throw the ball away twice
1:12:45 Tyrone Briggs called me an herb, but disappeared after that and yet he's still on the livechat because I can "at" him and yet how is this possible that the good has repelled on social media commenting? It's because it's Christmas. That settles it, every day should be Christmas. Our mantra: "Why don't you come on here on Xmas and say that?"
11m25 Q3 BP almost gets a steal, everyone standing around, Klay lol (KCP alley oop)
11m00 Q3 we leave AG wide open again, misses, bkref says AG is at 25% for the season
10m10 Q3 JK power post vs Jamal
9m38 Q3 JK power move vs Jokic, fouled (amazing how he's ditched the finesse)
9m15 Q3 BP taps to steal, Klay to Steph to JK fb
8m15 Q3 JK tomahawk vs Jamal post again
7m50 Q3 Klay helps on Jokic from ten feet away (why? game plan?)
6m50 Q3 JK downhill screen slip play design, Jamal's 4th pf
6m33 Q3 Jokic shooting foul????
5m50 Q3 Klay bad shot selection, blocked by MPJ, fb
4m55 Q3 Steph alley oop to TJD, Jokic watching Steph the whole way
1:39:15 stop fouling, no turnovers, and no more bad shots, please for Q4 later
3m38 Q3 CP throws the ball to KCP for a layup
2m40 Q3 BP alley oop TJD
1:42:30 guys probably had to wake up at 7am
1m15 Q3 TJD great help
1:46:15 you blink and BP shows up in the paint on FTs
1:48:30 Wiggs quietly 10 pts and plus-23
0m32 Q3 Steve asks for a flop on the screen foul
0m05 Q3 Steph and CP miss open 3s, Nuggets got confused
1:53:15 we're 13/29 on 3s, but doesn't feel like we're 44.8%
11m30 Q4 BP and Klay good POA, Wiggs 94ft!
10m55 Q4 BP again appears in the paint out of nowhere
10m28 Q4 Wiggs swats Braun
9m42 Q4 Klay steal MPJ
9m14 Q4 Klay catch and miss oob 15 on clock
8m55 Q4 Klay flat-footed tap
8m40 Q4 BP saves Klay miss 3 corner
8m00 Q4 Klay gives up layup
7m46 Q4 Klay misses corner 3, jogs back
7m10 Q4 Wiggs and JK in at the same time, Klay out
6m28 Q4 Wiggs fade 2 post
5m40 Q4 Wiggs again!
4m55 Q4 Jokic flop on Steph 3
4m30 Q4 BP to Steph missed
4m22 Q4 Jokic flops again
3m50 Q4 Klay slow on fb D after the Steph miss layup vs Jokic, BP helps
2m50 Q4 Wiggs again post
1m50 Q4 Steph miracle 3
1m37 Q4 Jokic flops again on a screen, not basketball!, that's trash on the pickup court too
1m16 Q4 MPJ blocks Klay again
1m05 Q4 Steph rushed
0m50 Q4 Steph deflection steal, Wiggs fb
0m10 Q4 Steph lefty 3
2:25:00 our old guys looked old tonight, this was essentially a b2b
2:27:00 Rebecca: "Idk why schedule this for an early game and not make the west coast game a night one. Like why not play the one in Miami at like 2:30 and the warriors at 8"
2:29:30 also add "coaching staff" to the old list: we could hire a new young guy for fresh perspectives
2:32:00 I go on a rant on Adam Silver not knowing Jokic's antics are bad for the game
2:38:00 let's let Draymond be
2:41:30 STEVE POSTGAME AUDIO: he walked off after saying NBA legislates against defense
2:44:45 according to my notes, Klay played 3-4 mins of good basketball, he still hold the attention of the defense, esp vet teams, Klay needs to have that revelation
2:52:15 I think we should be 18-16 or 19-15 by Jan 4th after DEN
2:54:30 Queensofnoize: "I'm not afraid of Denver"
2:55:00 BPODZ POSTGAME AUDIO: says they were trying to get the ball to Steph and Klay a lot starting out
2:58:30 BP: 13 pts, 4/7 fg, 3/4 3s, 9r 6a 5s
3:00:00 I love how Steve said "legislates", haha Adam (the dictator)!
3:01:15 no trades needed, we will be "acquiring" Dray and GP2
3:02:30 Lacob actually will save up to $5 million from Draymond's suspension: https://www.letsgowarriors.com/p/draymond-suspension-warriors-roster-bobby-marks
3:07:45 GP2 to be re-evaluated today or tomorrow
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