Game Tips at 6:00 P.M. EST
Golden State Warriors: 4 - 1 (0 - 1 away)
Detroit Pistons: 1 - 5 (1 - 2 home)
If you thought that first win was hard, you'd be wise to beware the second. Where the Pistons are coming off their worst season start in 30 years, the Warriors are putting up their best start in 16. They've won four of five, with their sole loss going to the Lakers in their only away game so far this season. This is a remarkably different team than the one Golden State fielded last season, with the changes due to new personnel on the floor and the sidelines, plus marked improvements amongst the Warrior's vets.
The Warriors made two primary changes since last season, and these changes are paying off with wins as dividends. First, they canned head coach Don Nelson and promoted Keith
Sweat Smart, who has managed to maintain Golden State's fast pace while emphasizing defense. The result: a reversal of fate from 112 opponent points per game to 102, and a drop from allowing 49% opponent shooting down to 42%.
The second change the Warriors made was to acquire David Lee from New York via sign-and-trade, giving Golden State a much-needed all-star-caliber frontcourt scorer and rebounder. While some were down on the signing, suggesting Lee's stellar rebounding numbers were a product of a D'Antoni offense, he's made a strong impact on the boards while his shooting touch has struggled. He's even rebounding at a higher rate in Golden State than he did under D'Antoni, helping the Warriors go from the worst rebounding team in the league (38.4 per game last year) to the 3rd best in the league (46.6 per game this year). His scoring has fallen off, as the career 56% shooter is now only converting at 40%. Don't expect that to last.
The problem with facing Golden State is that this is a very well balanced team. They rebound well, they score efficiently, they move the ball, they defend, and the play the game at a fast pace. They have potent offensive weapons at the 1, 2 and 4, with a 5 who doesn't miss much and a 3 who has exploded this season (Dorell Wright is averaging 18 points per game?).
So how do you beat this team? If I were behind the chalk board, I'd be emphasizing a defensive focus on the perimeter and the pick-and-roll, and I'd plan to use Detroit's frontcourt versatility to swap up on the Warriors. Specifically, I mean to have Ben Wallace D up on David Lee with Daye or Monroe on Biedrins-- then swap on the offensive end. Our frontcourt scoring will need to come at the 4, thanks to David Lee's absence on D. More about all of this in the keys to the game...
Keys to the Game:
Daye to the Bench: Come on now, Kuester. I appreciate stability of lineups and how that can build chemistry. But this isn't working.
Watch the Wings: This team has a lot of firepower from the guard positions and Dorell Wright has been sneaky good so far this season. We'll really need Rodney Stuckey back in this game, because the Warriors guards can kill you if you're not careful.
Move the Ball, Expose the Warriors Frontcourt Defense and Depth: Keep moving the ball like you did in the first quarter of Friday's win over Charlotte. Pass the ball to frontcourt scorers, because Golden State's starters are not known for their defense. Driving guards should not shy away from contact, because foul trouble can expose the Warriors' shallow bench.
Question of the Game:
Was Friday a fluke, and can this team put up a consistent effort for 48 minutes a game?