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With These Warriors, You’ll Win as often as the French Do

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Published: March 22, 2009

Matchup: Warriors(25-44) @ Hornets(43-25)

Off Efficiency: Warriors 106.5(12th), Hornets 106.8(9th)
Def Efficiency: Warriors 109.8(28th), Hornets 103.5(8th)

There isn’t a team in the league more capable of enticing opponents to play their style than the Golden State Warriors.  They manage 101.2 posessions per game, easily the fastest in the league, and couple that with the 12th most efficient offense, producing big scoring numbers.

However, you’ll notice I said they “entice” opponents, not “force”, because the teams they are playing against quickly find out that if you run with the Warriors, they’ll let you score at an even more efficient rate than they are.  The dichotomy about the Warriors is they need to attack quickly for their offense to run smoothly due to their lack of power players or true point guards, but their defense is probably at its best in a slowdown game.  In a half-court game their defensive speed and ability to switch easily can break up offensive sets, though they are still vulnerable to the infrequent team with strong post play. 

In the pre-season they had to make a decide on a fast, good offense and poor defense, or slow, good defense and poor offense.  Unsurprisingly, with Nellie at the helm, they chose offense. 

So in the end, either you slow the game down, kill their offense, and use power players to punish their light-weight but athletic team, or you run with them and score at will.  For the Hornets, who rarely go outside their own slow game plan, it all depends on David West.  If he puts up good numbers, I’d expect a win.

Over the last few games, the Warriors have bowed to the inevitable and are playing young players like Brandan Wright, Anthony Marrow and CJ Watson a lot more in order to see what they are capable of.

Injuries:

Warriors: Andris Biedrins has an injured ankle and will be out.
Hornets: Peja Stojakovic and Tyson Chandler will sit out once more.  Peja had a cortisone shot in his lower back and is still feeling pain.  I’m not buying the positive statements coming from the Hornets on this – every quote I’ve seen that actually came from Peja have not sounded good.

Positional Analysis

PG: Monta Ellis v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Ellis is finally getting back into the groove and showing he’s an exceptional undersized shooting guard with blazing speed.  Unfortunately, he’s playing the point, and he’s not so good at that.  Paul, I hear, is a legendary point guard.

SG: Stephen Jackson v Rasual Butler
Advantage: Hornets
I’m not a fan of Stephen Jackson.  Lots of stupid shots, lots of stupid plays, too many minutes.  He’s high on turnovers, low on rebounding, and his numbers are greatly inflated by his 40 minutes per game playing time and high-paced team.  I’d rather have Butler on my team any day of the year.

SF: Kelenna Azubuike v Julian Wright
Advantage: Warriors
I love Kelenna Azubuike.  I wanted the Hornets to make a play for him in the off-season, but we got Posey instead.  This year, Azubuike is averaging 13.5 points and shooting 47% from the field, 46.6% from three.  His defense isn’t stellar, but it’s good enough.  Of all the major offensive weapons the Warriors have run out as a starter, he’s easily the most efficient scorer behind Corey Maggette.  Julian will need to stick with him to keep this from being heavily in the Warriors favor.

PF: Brandan Wright v David West
Advantage: Hornets
Brandan Wright is efficient and athletic, but he’s not a guard, so doesn’t ever get to see the ball except on dump offs in the lane, broken plays, and in transition.  He could be quite a bit more.  He doesn’t have the bulk to keep West out of the lane, though, so expect lots of double teaming.

C: Ronny Turiaf v Hilton Armstrong
Advantage: Warriors
Ronny and Hilton are both energetic players – however you shouldn’t mistake energy for production, because neither of them produce that much.  That said, Turiaf will outproduce Armstrong, even though Armstrong plays best as a starter.

Bench
Advantage: Warriors
Corey Maggette, Anthony Morrow, and CJ Watson typically get minutes off the bench for the Warriors.  Corey is one of the most efficient scorers in the league, generating a crazy 1.51 points per shot because of his ability to draw fouls and finish.  Of course, Maggette also turns the ball over a ton for a guy who is allergic to passing, and plays defense as much as Drew Brees does.  Still, he’s a nice player off the bench to keep scoring going, and Morrow and Watson are athletic, solid scorers.  Despite all the offensive firepower here, this bench isn’t that much better than the Hornet’s sad-sack bunch – just enough to once again make the 2nd quarter painful.

Enjoy the game.  After tonight, the schedule toughens up considerably with nine games against playoff teams with only thirteen to go.

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