Glenn Robinson

Warriors have discovered their anti-tank squad in new starting lineup

Warriors have discovered their anti-tank squad in new starting lineup

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Warriors deployed their ninth lineup of the season Friday night, but if they are as serious about tanking the season as some outside speculation suggests, they are going to have to try a 10th or 11th or 12th.

Tankers, you see, don’t deliberately or consistently send out their best lineups.

Draymond Green and Eric Paschall were the starting forwards for the first time this season, and even in a 105-100 loss to the rampaging Celtics, performed well enough – as did the team around them – to provide reason to believe the Warriors will find a few more wins if Steve Kerr makes a habit of this.

“We just wanted to take a different look,” Kerr said. “We had lost five games in a row, and we wanted to just to see Eric and Draymond play together. We like the physicality that it brought to our defense, so we had a more physical front line with both Eric and Draymond and Willie [Cauley-Stein].

“We gave up a little something in spacing, but we pick up something defensively.”

In addition to starting the Green-Paschall duo at forward, Glenn Robinson III -- who started the first 11 games at small forward -- was moved to the backcourt alongside point guard D’Angelo Russell, with Cauley-Stein at center.

That group stunned the Celtics by racing out to leads of 10 (18-8) six minutes into the game and 15 (25-10) a little more than two minutes later. The groundwork was laid for perhaps the Warriors’ best first quarter of the season, which ended with a 32-23 lead.

The numbers, across the board, were more than respectable: 50 percent shooting from the field, 33.3 percent from deep; 16-14 rebounding edge; eight assists, one turnover; holding Boston to 30.4 percent shooting, 25 percent from beyond the arc.

“Our defense was better,” Green said. “I think that was our best defensive effort of the season. We let go of the rope a little bit in the second quarter, which is how they got back into the game. But it all starts on the defensive end, and we were better tonight.”

The Celtics fought back because, well, they are the best team in the Eastern Conference and entered Chase Center with a nine-game win streak. Despite falling behind by as much as seven in the third quarter, the Warriors didn’t so much as fold late as they were outplayed by a more talented team, with more accomplished veterans.

“I told you guys that the young players are going go play their butts off,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “The other thing is that you can tell the way that Draymond Green is leading, he’s so engaged in all these young guys. He’s leading all the way through and competing and kind of leading the charge.

“There’s a lot of character, competitive character (among the Warriors), which has been proved over a long period of time, and it’s being instilled into all of the new and younger guys.”

Green spent considerable time running the offense and finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals. Paschall submitted 16 points and eight rebounds. Their early tenacity, particularly in the paint, was contagious. Centers Marquese Chriss, Omari Spellman and Cauley-Stein combined for 22 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks.

“It just brought a sense of urgency and toughness from the jump, and that’s what the whole plan was, to just come out super aggressive,” Cauley-Stein said of the new lineup. “Draymond and Eric are two of our most aggressive players, so it worked.”

The second quarter was awful, the Warriors losing it by 10 mostly because they had as many turnovers (six) as assists. Russell -- who left in the third quarter with a sprained right thumb -- was particularly bad with the ball, turning it over four times in seven second-quarter minutes.

[RELATED: D-Lo to undergo MRI on sprained right thumb Saturday]

Though the Warriors lost, it was to the team that over the past three weeks is playing better than any in the NBA. In a season of lessons, the one to take from this game is that there is every reason to believe they can be considerably better than they have been.

In the process of losing, the Warriors found a lineup that, if it stays healthy and intact long enough, has enough to counter allegations of tanking. Lineup No. 9 is their best, surely good enough to win games they otherwise would lose.

Glenn Robinson laughs at notion injury-riddled Warriors are tanking

robinsonap.jpg
AP

Glenn Robinson laughs at notion injury-riddled Warriors are tanking

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the losses continue to mount and with their All-Star core sidelined, the Warriors are battling the chatter of tanking, eliciting a familiar reaction among players. 

"I laugh at that stuff," Warriors forward Glenn Robinson admitted Friday morning. "A lot of people think we're just coming out here tanking and not playing hard and not trying to win. But we come into work every day, we're working hard, we're competing." 

Despite the effort, Golden State continues to struggle. In the last month, seven players have gone down with injuries, including superstar guard Steph Curry, who is expected to be sidelined until February with a broken hand. Of the nine players who suited up in Wednesday's loss to the Lakers, none were on the team last year. 

As a result, the Warriors have lost 10 of their first 12 games, including their last two by an average margin of 20 points. The output is a far cry from Golden State's performance in recent seasons. Over the last five years, the Warriors won 78 percent of their games -- marking the best run in NBA history over the stretch. Still, Robinson remains upbeat. 

"The best times come after you've been humbled," he said. "I think that's something we're all going through, that's something the organization's going through. A lot of teams got our mark. The Warriors have been kicking people's a--es for the last five, six years and so everybody wants to come in and come hard against us."

Robinson, who signed a one-year, $1.8 million deal with a player option last summer, has a similar story as the rest of Golden State's battered roster. The onset of his career has been defined by movement, as he played for three teams in his first three NBA seasons. He seemed to gain traction in Indiana, where he became a solid rotation player for the Pacers behind star forward Paul George. 

In 2016-17, Robinson shot 39 percent from 3-point range. However, after signing a two-year deal with the Detroit Pistons last season, he struggled, averaging just 4.2 points and 1.5 rebounds while shooting 42 percent from the field. In Golden State, he hopes to find success despite a depleted roster. 

"The goal for myself and the goal for everybody should be playing as well as we can, competing, playing hard and try to stay here," Robinson said. "Because I've been on teams where this could be a stop where guys could play for points and guys could play for whatever just to go their separate ways but I think staying together is the biggest thing because we got to continue to see the big picture both this year and next year when guys get healthy."

[RELATED: Ask Kerith -- How die-hard Warriors fans can remain optimistic]

Hope may be on the way for the Warriors to balance scales going forward. Curry, Green and Thompson all are expected to be healthy by the start of next season, bringing back the core formidable enough to compete in the Western Conference, a plan Robinson hopes to be a part of. 

"That's why I came here, he said. "It's a place where I really want to make my stamp in the league."

How die-hard Warriors fans can stay optimistic during trying season

How die-hard Warriors fans can stay optimistic during trying season

Editor’s note: Kerith Burke, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors reporter, will take you inside the Dubs as only she can each Friday with the Ask Kerith Mailbag. Send her a question on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #askkerith

Tip-Off

The Celtics are in town, bringing an NBA-best 9-1 record to Chase Center. Three players will be out with broken hands: Steph Curry, Damion Lee, and Boston forward Gordon Hayward, who is expected to be out for six weeks out after undergoing surgery. 

Every team deals with injuries over the course of a season. Some teams get bit, others get shark-attacked. It feels like Jaws chomped off half the Dubs roster. Only four Warriors have been healthy for every game this season: Glenn Robinson III, Marquese Chriss, Jordan Poole, and Ky Bowman. 

The season marches on. There is no pity from competitors. When no one cares about your hardship, you can only turn inward for strength. The Warriors must play with purpose.

Game on!

@Nas_Isms #askKerith besides the awful start to the season and Steph injury, what questions should we be asking and why should die hard fans remain optimistic? Asking for a friend ....

Young players are getting big minutes. That’s important to their development. I was thinking about Jordan Bell when I saw him in Minnesota. If he were on this team, this season, I wonder what his growth would have been like. 

The Warriors are 2-10. The expectations are different this season, which means they can play and make mistakes and watch film and repeat. They always are building chemistry. And when the wins aren’t coming, players learn the tough lesson that outside voices can be mean. They learn to tune out the voices that don’t matter and rely on each other. Those bonds will pay off.

I truly believe the losses this season will add up to a mentally stronger, been-through-the-fire confidence, coupled with invaluable experience on the floor. The best learning comes from doing.

This organization also is a sound place to play. I don’t know that the attitudes would be as positive if the structure in place to weather a down year wasn’t solid. Top to bottom, the Warriors have good leaders and a long-term vision. I hope die-hard fans are seeing the big picture too. 

@em_nera What is the atmosphere around the locker room ? We had some "encouraging" losses so hopefully the guys are holding their heads up.

Film study helps. When a player sees examples of a good sequence, or a good move they’ve been working on, it clicks. Measuring progress is important.

Film study also illuminates weak spots. This is going to be a year of study. The guys understand that. 

Steve Kerr has been talking about the realities of the season AND the need to play their best every night to close out some of these games. Yes, the Warriors are frequently outmanned and outmatched, but how much will they allow that to be a crutch? Protect the ball, rebound, take smart shots. These are all things they can control no matter who is on the floor. 

From what I see, the players still have their heads up. No one likes to lose. They have fight. You’re right that there have been enough encouraging moments to keep the right attitude and press on. 

@ClarissaSchreed #askKerith If the Warriors are unfortunate enough to lose more players to injury, do at some point they have to forfeit games?

I heard Bob Fitzgerald mention this on the broadcast: Teams need 8 active players to begin a game, and they must finish the game with at least 5 players. 

@Jwonder64 I would like to know why they got rid of Alfonso McKinney and Quinn Cook
@JoannaB27032700 Me too 

The Warriors didn’t get rid of anyone like these guys were trash to the curb. Alfonzo’s story was unfortunate circumstance, and Quinn Cook was a free agent. 

Alfonzo went into this season believing he could be a starter since Klay Thompson was injured. Then, during the course of the preseason, injuries to Kevon Looney and Willie Cauley-Stein put the Warriors in a tough spot where they needed size. They waived Alfonzo, who had a non-guaranteed contract, to sign Marquese Chriss. There are more details here. Alfonzo landed with the Cavaliers.

Quinn had an offer from the Warriors, but they rescinded that offer for financial reasons when the D’Angelo-for-KD deal went down. Now Quinn plays for the Lakers, his favorite team as a child

@Jon_in_SoCal Draymond is such a smart player. Is there a chance he would go back to Michigan State and coach?

Draymond has the aptitude to do whatever he wants in basketball, and Draymond The Coach is a cool idea. He’s already a coach on the floor. I also think the degree of teaching he’s doing this season and the patience it requires would be something he could draw upon in the future. This is all very hypothetical right now, but if an alumnus with Draymond’s pedigree were interested in the job, I bet MSU would hire him immediately. 

I’ll keep this question in mind when Draymond goes to MSU for his jersey retirement ceremony in January. When he’s back with his Spartan family, I bet he’ll have a soft spot for wandering down this avenue in his mind. 

Draymond is so successful, any avenue could be his: Coach, front office, broadcaster, businessman. He’s earned whatever he wants next. 

@3athalete Curious in your take on last season vs this season with travel, fans, media frenzy or lack thereof.

Steph’s warm-up routine used to be must-see-TV. It’s not a stretch to say thousands of fans got to games early for a glimpse of the show. This season there is a noticeable difference. Where is everyone?

Warriors fans are still showing up, but it’s a smaller crowd. That’s expected when Steph’s not traveling. When kids wait in the lobby at the team hotel, it’s sad to see their faces when it dawns on them Steph, Klay and others are not there. 

On the flip side, the fans who come to warm-ups or hang out for autographs know everyone by name. There’s less of a frenzy but the ones who remain are true. 

As I mentioned in the last mailbag, the dip in national media covering the Warriors means the regular beat folks can get more one-on-one time with the players. Expect some great stories this season. 

@slowdowwn Hey @KerithBurke what is that block that some of the players put on their chair when they are on the bench? And what is it for? Are there health benefits to it? #AskKerith

The block is a thick foam cushion to make sitting more comfortable. The seats on the bench are folding chairs with a little padding, but when have folding chairs been nice to sit on for an extended period of time? Never!

The blocks help the players sit in a more natural position. I remember when Kevin Durant would sit without a block, his knees would be up to his elbows. There are some therapeutic benefits to sitting higher. 

High Five

Thanks to Eric Paschall for coming on our Warriors Insider podcast, which you can find here or the usual places, like Apple and Spotify. It was a long talk, and I feel thankful we got to know him better. He’s a confident person. 

The first podcast episodes Logan Murdock and I did with Kelenna Azubuike and Paschall were under the Warriors Insider banner, but we have a new name coming out and our own direction to go. Stay tuned!

Follow Kerith on Twitter @KerithBurke and on Instagram @warriorskerith, and, of course, watch her on NBC Sports Bay Area’s Warriors coverage all season.