Golden State Warriors

Warriors-Mavericks: A Game To Remember Without Don Nelson

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 06:  Kelenna Azubuike #7, Anthony Morrow #22, Anthony Randolph #4 and C.J. Watson #23 of the Golden State Warriors walk back on to the court after a time out late in their loss to the Los Angeles Clippers at Oracle Arena on November 6, 2009 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
K ShakranSenior Analyst INovember 25, 2009

The Golden State Warriors only needed six healthy bodies to come out with the most valuable of wins against the Dallas Mavericks who had won five straight games.

Monta Ellis scored a season-high 37 points, dished out eight assists, and had four steals.

Stephen Curry came through in crunch time to score 11 of his 18 points in the final 3:50 of the game, while Anthony Morrow had a spectacular performance with 27 points and 9 rebounds.

Perhaps the most surprising aspect about the victory was how energetic and determined the young players performed without Don Nelson.

Most importantly, Corey Maggette did not set foot on the court last night.

Warriors' fans might have already seen the future head coach for the team in Nelson's top assistant Keith Smart.

And smart he is.

Smart, who filled in as the head coach for the ill Nelson, decided to go with three guards and not insert Maggette in the game at all. Incorporated in that reasoning was Vladimir Radmanovic, who had rebounded exceptionally well (12 rebounds), and provided a sound defensive game against Dirk Nowitizki.

The 45-year-old assistant also realized that Jason Kidd, JJ. Barea, and Jason Terry do not have any intention, or chance, of defending Curry or Ellis' quickness. Therefore, sticking to playing Ellis, Curry, and Morrow together was the correct decision.

In addition, Smart noticed, just like Nelson did in the 2007 playoffs, that Nowitizki does not like being defended by smaller players. Nelson decided to put Stephen Jackson on Nowitizki in the 2007 playoffs, and Smart decided to put Radmanovic against the 7-footer last night. Nowitzki detests going against smaller players due to the fact that they make him defend on the other end—an aspect which Nowitzki is not known for.

On the offensive end, and for the first time since entering the league, Morrow looked like the player Warriors' fans envisioned he would become. Firstly, Morrow did not stand still and wait for Curry or Ellis to deliver him the ball for a guaranteed three. Morrow kept moving on every play, and in some instances decided to attack the basket.

If Morrow continues to play the way he has played, he will be one of the best shooters in the league.

Another aspect worth noting is how Ellis and Curry are starting to mesh and understand each other's games. Curry made three incredible plays towards the end of the game. He hit a three pointer after Ellis saw he was open, made a perfect pass to Anthony Randolph for a dunk, and hit a one-handed runner over Nowitzki.

Along with Curry, Ellis has been the main leader on this team. Down eight in the fourth quarter, Ellis jumped into the team huddle during a timeout and urged the team to continue fighting. Ellis' defensive game has also been a standout. He is becoming a more complete player on the court.

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