Warriors were shouting at the missiles. This kind of whooping was synonymous with warriors.
Klay Thompson couldn’t miss, scoring 20 points in the first quarter, and the Warriors put a 40-point lead on a mediocre and young Rockets team, taking a 12-point lead in the second quarter. It looked like the game was going to be an easy feat.
That 12-point lead lasted less than three minutes into the second quarter.
The Warriors’ second unit has failed again.
Sunday’s second quarter was the Warriors’ biggest problem in a nutshell.
And what Warriors head coach Steve Kerr did the next time the second unit was called to play — the start of the fourth quarter — showed how Golden State could solve this huge problem.
Steve Curry was benched for the first 5:33 of the second quarter. The Warriors were outscored by 13 points during this stretch, making 1 of 13 shots, committing four errors, and turning the ball over three times. It was bad basketball – disorganized and unsuitable for a defending title team.
So the next time Curry had to go off the bench, Kerr made a rotation change. Draymond Green came up.
The second unit minutes at the start of the fourth quarter were a revelation—by comparison, of course. The Warriors finally did what they’re really asked of when Curry is on the bench: They were able to walk through water. The margin between the two teams lasted until Curry returned to the game and the Warriors went on to win their first road game of the season.
What a concept!
Placing Green in the game worked with the second unit because it provided organization and a focal point for the Warriors on both offense and defense.
Above all, those are the two things missing for the Warriors’ second unit this season.
The Warriors have two good players in their second unit. But they don’t play Warriors basketball. Not unless it’s Green outside who calls the shots.
Jordan Paul is a great scorer, but he’s not a point guard. He may want the ball in his hands, but he doesn’t run the Warriors offensive system when that’s the case — he runs a high pick and roll. This is a play of last resort for warriors. Add in his mercurial play and he simply isn’t a stable choice for controlling the ball when Curry is off the field. It’s better than the ball.
Problem is, newcomer Donte DiVincenzo is better off the ball, too. He doesn’t know the Warriors system yet. how to? DiVincenzo is a combo protector – a scourge of carnage and ocean. He’s a highly valued player within the Warriors system, and he, of course, doesn’t work with the second unit.
What the Warriors really need is a backup center: A player who can miss on goal—high or low—will do wonders for this team, allowing them to carry out their split attack. Someone who can run a defense – allowing the Dubs to avoid playing that dreaded 2-3 zone – would be a bonus.
Green managed to do both early in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
But before him, Sean Livingston, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut and Zaza Pachulia could have fulfilled the role in their own way.
They implemented the system.
Paul, Divincenzo, Jonathan Cuminga, Moses Moody, Jamekal Green and Anthony Lamb are all good players, but they just can’t do it. They are not that kind of player.Or to put it another way: The Warriors have the right skill for fielders, they just lack a quarterback.
Which makes them the go-to ninja – up and down, never allowing us to truly trust them.
What’s the solution?
What the Warriors can’t do is run Green with the second unit every game. It may be effective, but Green is still needed as a starter, can’t do double duty and play 40 minutes a night.
So Kerr can let go of the Warriors’ attack with Unit Two – again – and pray that it stays steady this time. This is hardly recommended now. Paul still didn’t seem ready for that responsibility. This is not a Defincenzo game.
The Warriors can pray that Andre Iguodala returns and can play effective minutes with this unit for about eight minutes per game. This is a big request.
Or warriors need to trade.
The third option seems the most likely and effective option, though it’s one that won’t happen anytime soon — NBA trades can’t really happen until December 15, when players can be traded before this season.
So keep a heating pad on your back, Draymond – it’s going to be going to pull double duty for a few weeks now.