Hey all, new feature alert: I’m going to make a college try at previewing games from here on out. The first couple might be a little scattershot, but hopefully the process will get streamlined and everyone will have a good place to chat about the upcoming/ongoing game on this site for the rest of the season.
PG: Mo Willams vs. Stephen Curry
SG: Anthony Parker vs. Monta Ellis
SF: LeBron James vs. Corey Maggette
PF: Vladimir Radmanovic vs. JJ Hickson
C: Mikki Moore vs. Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Notes on the Opponent:
As of yesterday’s Stephen Jackson salary dump, the Warriors are officially in full rebuild mode, and have now lost their three key starters from the cult-classic “We Believe” season. What was once an unconventional terror became a team that could be a threat to any team on any night but collapse on any night, and now the team has become a punchline. It’s not a pretty situation by any stretch of the imagination, and the organization of the chaos the Warriors once thrived in has been lost.
Steph Curry has shown promise as Don Nelson has played around with his minutes, with nice efficiency numbers and more upside than expected as a passer, but hasn’t had the big scoring night he was drafted to have yet. Offensively, he seems a decent enough fit with the slashing Monta Ellis, but that just isn’t a backcourt that can defend anybody in the NBA.
Anthony Randolph is the Untouchable, but he still seems a little while away from living up to his potential, especially with Nellie trying to break down his psyche.
Basically, this is a team that’s fallen apart. They were a team whose success came from their sense of identity, and they’ve lost their identity. At the heart of this is Nellie, who has fully quit on this team and now appears to be attempting a career as a performance artist.
Anthony Morrow is the best player in the league at converting open catch-and-shoot looks. Period. That is all. His talents make him a perfect fit playing next to good players in the starting lineup.
Thoughts on the Matchup:
I know I have more stress than is healthy. In fact, right now my right eyelid is twitching uncontrollably and it’s really annoying. But I worry about this matchup a little bit.
First of all, the Warriors are an occasionally potent offensive team that plays no defense. Look at the highlights or tape of Jennings’ 55-point game. Nobody is near him when he’s coming off of picks. It’s absolutely pathetic. If the Cavs are aggressive offensively, they will destroy this team. However, the Cavs aren’t the most aggressive offensive team in the world. Mo’s game is more dependent on whether he gets into a shooting flow than who’s guarding him, and LeBron isn’t the type to take over and go for 55 just because he can. And this is still a defense-first team that will look to control the pace of the game and work the ball around rather than attack the first possible favorable matchup on offense for a quick shot. The Cavs have to put the Warriors on their heels rather than play passive and take the chance the Warriors will have one of those games where their crazy offensive crud actually starts working.
My second big concern is that the Warriors could have a chip on their shoulders. Jax had become a cancer. Everyone is now writing them off. I think the Warriors could have a STRONG desire to show the world that they’re not tanking the season, and if the Cavs take this game for granted there could be issues.
Maybe Corey Maggette could get LeBron in early foul trouble?
Parker and his inability to score off the dribble could be one of the few starting guards to let Monta Ellis off the hook defensively.
If Mo does start hitting shots against Curry, there’s nothing Steph can do.
Man, I’m excited for Hickson/Randolph.
That’s all for now-this one should be a tune-up game and a continuation of the Cavs’ hot streak, but never count out a team in the NBA, especially an insane one.