Is Monta good enough to lead the Warriors to the playoffs?
Did you know that if not for a two heartbreaking losses: one to Kevin Durant's bank shot and another to the Sacramento Kings in overtime, we’d be looking at a seven-game win streak?
Unfortunately, close losses still show up in the “L” column.
As it stands, the Golden State Warriors have won three in a row after last night’s victory over the Phoenix Suns. Even with this momentum and a wide open Western Conference, can the Warriors fulfill Mark Jackson’s playoff promise? (via SF Gate)
Only four games separate the fifth and 12th seed and it is anyone’s guess as to who will make the playoffs. If the Warriors want to live up to Mark Jackson’s proclamation, they’ll have to continue playing well and improve in four important aspects.
While neither are excellent defensive players, their offense is often potent enough to win. Because of their weaknesses on the defensive end, they cannot afford to turn the ball over. Curry is averaging 2.9 turnovers and Ellis is averaging 3.5 per game. Every turnover takes away from the backcourt’s strength and exposes their weaknesses.
No turnover was more apparent than Monta’s in a last-second loss to the Indiana Pacers on January 20th. With the game tied in the final seconds, guard George Hill stripped Monta Ellis for the go-ahead layup.
To make the playoffs with Monta and Curry at the helm, the Warriors will have to limit the turnovers.
Rebounding is an underrated skill in the game and ensures a team a chance to score. Without the ball, a team cannot win.
The Warriors are the second worst rebounding team in the league.
Their opponents have outrebounded the Warriors by a margin of 4.4 per game, according to ESPN. Only the Charlotte Bobcats, the worst team in the league, have a lower rebounding differential. The drop off after David Lee is disparaging.
No player other than Lee is averaging above five rebounds per game.
Ekpe Udoh must step up as the team's center and improve his rebounding. He has played strong defense and blocked shots. If he can step up on the boards, Udoh should start over Andris Biedrens.
The Warriors are giving up 12.4 offensive rebounds per game, third worst in the league. Offensive rebounds often lead to easy scores in the paint or wide open threes. To close out games, the Warriors must make a team effort to rebound.
The Warriors are dead last in the NBA for foul differentials. Their opponents shoot 7.8 more free throws per game.
Their guards and wing players are excellent shooters, especially from beyond the arc. However, this results in drawing fewer fouls. Monta is their best penetrator but looks to avoid contact for the acrobatic finish.
When shots are not falling, the Warriors will need a way to generate points. Getting to the free-throw line is an excellent way to do so. Running the pick and roll more often or feeding Udoh in the post improves the odds of drawing a foul.
Most of the Warriors’ woes can be solved from filling the gaping hole at center.
An average, consistent center that rebounds addresses the team’s biggest needs. This will narrow the rebounding and foul differential, as the guards can funnel help to the center rather than reaching in and fouling. A center without bricks for hands will also lower the turnover count.
Too many times has Monta dropped a good pass off to have it fumbled and lost.
Andris Biedrens has ranged from mediocre to downright awful. With a solid defensive center, the Warriors are definitely a playoff contender. What happened to the Biedrens of old? He needs to spike his hair back out and dunk on everyone.
Historically, teams have won around 53 to 54 percent of their games to make the playoffs. In this compressed 66-game schedule, that amounts to 36 wins. The Warriors will have to win the remaining two-thirds of their games to reach this mark. While unlikely, the upcoming home stretch is a wonderful way to keep playoff hopes alive.
The schedule ramps up in difficulty after the All-Star break. The Warriors play only 10 games against teams that currently have a losing record.
As a Warriors fan, I'm hoping Mark Jackson's postseason promise comes true.