Programming note: Warriors-Lakers coverage tips off tonight with Warriors Pregame Live at 7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!
The Warriors play the Lakers in Los Angeles on Friday nightin a game between two teams facing adversity. The Warriors will be withoutstarting center Andrew Bogut, who will miss the next seven to 10 days in aneffort to strengthen his left ankle.
RELATED: Bogut shut down
The Lakers just fired head coach Mike Brown after just fivegames, and assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff will coach the game.RELATED: Lakers fire head coach Mike Brown
Here are some things to look for in Fridays game:What to do about Dwight: Without Bogut,the Warriors will be at a big-time disadvantage against Dwight Howard, theLakers center. Last season when Howard was a member of the Orlando Magic,Warriors coach Mark Jackson had his team intentionally fouling thecenter.The result was Howard set an NBA-record by shooting 39 freethrows in that game, making 21.It remains to be seen whether or not Jackson will employ thesame strategy this year. If not, it will be up to rookie center Festus Ezeli todefend Howard, and when its not Ezeli, Jackson could go with little-used AndrisBiedrins.Outside of that, look for the Warriors to go small a goodportion of the night, with David Lee and Carl Landry playing up front.Weather the storm: The Warriors need tobe ready for a fired-up Lakers team right out of the gate on Friday. It standsto reason that Lakers players will want to make a statement in the wake of theBrown firing, and theyll likely want to make that statement early.RATTO: Lakers don't do 1-4
The Warriors need to be ready to play right off the bat andtry to take the crowd out of the game early.Thompson aggressive: In a preseason gameearlier this year, Klay Thompson had some success against Kobe Bryant byattacking the basket and being aggressive overall on the offensiveend.Afterward, when asked if that was the plan, Thompson said itwas and indicated that Bryants declining athleticism was the reason. Thatmindset and approach is a sound one for Thompson and the Warriors: Make Bryantwork on the defensive end.
Months after the Cavs overcame a 3-1 series deficit in the 2016 NBA Finals to stun the 73-win Warriors, images surfaced from a Halloween party hosted by LeBron James.
In the images, cookies in the shape of tombstones with the names of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson could be seen on a plate. The date "2015-16" was written on the cookies, apparently signifying the year the Warriors stars "died."
It was the height of the bitterness between the two teams that have met in three straight NBA Finals. The Cavs didn't care much for the Warriors.
But now, more than a year later, one of the players that was at the party to trying to take the blame off LeBron.
"I was at the Halloween party. Usually, [LeBron's] trolls are funny, but that was not from him, that was from the catering company. That’s why he doesn’t speak of it because the catering company put that together. If you think that LeBron James throws a party and does everything from the cookies to the decorations, then you’re kind of insane, that he has a season to prepare for and he’s party planning as well," former Cavs forward Dahntay Jones said Friday on The Russillo Show on ESPN. "But that was the company that they hired. It just happened to be funny at that point in time."
Jones, who is currently unsigned, has played one game for the Cavs each of the last two regular seasons. He did play in the first six games of the 2015-16 NBA Finals and averaged 1.3 points per game.
Captured as we are in the amber jar of Small Sample Size Theatre, there is something about the Warriors worth chewing on as they head for Philadelphia and a date with the precocious Philadelphia 76ers Saturday evening.
They now seem to disregard large leads as beneath them.
I’m not prepared to say what this means, but three of their losses this year (out of four, of course) have featured them hurling up a double-digit lead – 17 in the second quarter and 16 in the third quarter against Houston,
13 against Detroit and 17 in the second and third quarters against Boston Thursday night.
This is more games in which they have done so than all of last season, in which they blew a 14-point lead Christmas Day in Cleveland and a 17-point lead at home to Memphis 13 days later.
In other words, this could just be a phase they are going through as the team that knows it can produce at will and believes the other teams will cower in fear at the mere sight of their power and fold like 200-thread towels.
But three times in four weeks would be enough for head coach Steve Kerr to find a new way to put foot to hinder at future practices. It suggests that the Warriors, having outgrown their early weariness from a fun-filled summer (hey, they went to China and didn’t get busted for anything, so there’s that), maybe take themselves a bit for granted, and Kerr and team lecturers Draymond Green, David West and Andre Iguodala will now have something to help them all correct in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Oklahoma City and then home again.
I mean, what’s the point of having a big lead if you can’t enjoy it by making it bigger and bigger? What’s the value of leading by 17 and calling it a night when you can lead by 29 and THEN put your feet up? I mean, Houston did it last night and took the whole second half off.
Anyway, that’s today’s Warriors Gristle – what to do when you think you’ve won enough hands and find out you haven’t. Tomorrow, we’ll touch on what they need to do about keeping those old Kevin-Durant-back-in-OKC story lines tired and repetitive.