Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Warriors Historically Great, Knicks Not

I’ve just crossed the threshold of the Warriors’ locker room, and the first thing I see is Klay Thompson pissing on an orange and blue foam finger. This, one half the Splash Brothers later claims, was ripped off the helpless hand of a sobbing five-year-old fan.

Ruthless, yes, but a breed part and parcel with Golden State’s maraudic march.

“Get that action!” Draymond Green eggs his teammate from a corner locker, whipping his dick around like an unknotted lasso. “More like Badison Square Garbage!”

Such was the din of destruction that befell the New York Knicks Sunday night, with the Golden State juggernaut rolling to a 116-95 par-for-the-course thumping in front of a caustic capacity crowd. This despite a meager 13 points from All-Everything sharpshooter Stephen Curry.

Thompson led all scorers with 34 points on a planet-compacting 14-18 from the field, including 5-6 from distance. Green, meanwhile, tallied his league-high ninth triple-double of the season, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and no fewer than 50 pounds of Knicks splayed like Pollack flicks across the floor.

But it was how the Warriors’ power forward manhandled Kristaps Porzingis (14 points, seven rebounds) that left perhaps the most throbbing smart in the minds of Knicks fans present and couch-sunk alike.

“He was definitely a challenge to guard,” Prozingis wrote on a grease board while attached to locker-room ventilator. “Draymond is pretty intimidating. At one point he told me he once ran over a mailman when he didn’t deliver his Morris Peterson autograph on time, so after that I was pretty scared.”

Scared. A word that can be both cliché and—for 29 other NBA teams—the absolute best explanation possible.

After co-authoring one of their worst quarters of the season in the game’s opening frame, Golden State didn’t take long to find their oft-regaled rhythm, executing cuts and dives in a frenzy that flustered their air-grabbing foes. Down two after one, the Warriors were up six at the break, 17 after three, and barely looked back.

“That’s a hell of a team they got out there,” lauded Carmelo Anthony, who finished with a team-high 24 points and 10 rebounds—a star-steady output in what was otherwise a ceaseless offensive siege. “And Arron [Afflalo] sucked pigshit tonight.”

Anthony’s gripe underscores a growing concern within the Knicks organization. Namely that Affalo, who finished with five points on are-you-fucking-kidding-me from the field, has lately struggled to find his way in Derek Fisher’s triangle-hybrid offense.

“Arron will come around,” Fisher noted from just outside Sasha Vujacic’s shower stall, where the Knicks skipper was handing various botanical shower products to his reserve shooting guard through the curtain. “If he doesn’t, we’ll have to adjust the rotation accordingly.”

Vujacic’s head abruptly thrusts forth from the steam. “I said lilac! Not lavender!” he bellowed.

“Motherfucker, how am I supposed to know the motherfucking difference,” Fisher retorted, upending the wicker basket’s myriad contents over the rail and storming off in a huff.

“He gets like this after some losses,” Vujacic confided as he scrambled to gather his wares behind the curtain. “… Do you see my crab comb out there?”

The loss drops the Knicks to 23-27 overall, a full three games behind the No. 8 seed Detroit Pistons and 4.5 games behind the Boston Celtics, who will visit the Garden Tuesday night.

The Warriors, meanwhile, moved to 44-4 on the season, and have seriously considered going on a three-month vacation and “Just trying to win it all with the No. 9 seed,” according to ESPN’s Chris Broussard.

On a night when the Knicks struggled to cull contributions from anyone beyond Anthony and Porzingis, the latter of whom missed much of the first half due to early foul trouble, it was Golden State’s depth—relentless and killer and skilled—that proved the start-to-finish difference.

“When we’re in rhythm, we’re a pretty tough team to beat,” Steve Kerr said of his history-chasing charges. “Luke Walton coached this team to 38 of our 44 wins. And I love Luke Walton. But Luke Walton still thinks Stephen Baldwin was Keyser Soze, okay? You know what I mean?”

“That’s how good this team is.”

One day after completely squandering a 17-point lead to the hapless Philadelphia 76ers, Kerr and the Warriors relied on second-unit stalwarts Leandro Barbosa, Brandon Rush, and Shaun Livingston—aged a combined 125 years—to keep the Knicks largely at bay.

A remarkable feat, given Golden State’s helter-skelter itinerary: catching an 11 P.M. flight from Philadelphia to Newark; chartering a private plane to La Guardia after it was revealed Walton had booked the wrong flight in a fit of vertigo (“The letters kinda blended together for a second,” he would later tell the staff); taking in a VIP performance by noted Bronx rapper French Montana at an undisclosed nightclub (1 OAK), at which point our source stopped responding, ending his communiqués with a cryptic text that read simply, “o no bogut flppng tbles.”

The loss marked the Knicks’ seventh in their last 10 games—a midseason slide that threatens to undo what has otherwise been an encouraging turnaround in the wake of last year’s 17-win debacle.

“Boston is basically a must-win for us,” lamented center Robin Lopez, who finished with six points and five rebounds in a mostly quiet 18 minutes. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m in serious danger of permadeath here on hardcore Mine Craft mode, and I don’t have a worm in the server to resurrect me.”

Whatever the inherent flaws of Fisher’s squad, the Knicks had a sterling opportunity to capitalize on Golden State’s subpar opening quarter. Sadly, the first 12 minutes were marred by cartoonish turnovers on both sides, along with a lingering sense that the two teams might’ve eschewed the sanctioned Saturday rest for an all-night goodwill ether binge.

The difference being that the Warriors—righteous and splendid as their brand of basketball is—have earned a right to disregard those passage rites.

As for the Knicks? The mantra seems, at this point, a bit simpler in scope: Sometimes, before you run, you gotta stop rifling passes off your teammates’ thighs.

“We’ll lick our wounds, get our rest, and get back to work for Boston tomorrow,” Fisher offered, wads of tissue stuffed to stave a bleeding nose. “Metaphorically lick our wounds. Let’s make that clear. Don’t wanna get Amundson excited.”

(Editor’s Note: No, it didn’t.)

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65 comments on “Warriors Historically Great, Knicks Not

  1. chrisk06811

    Oh man, I knew I missed Jim’s writing; but Dray Green’s penis? that’s what you lead with??? more please!!!!

  2. massive

    The Fisher/Vujacic scene was hilarious. “I said lilac!” HA!

    Great write up. I sorta wish we could opt out of the next Warriors game. I don’t want to see what they will do to us in their building.

  3. Donnie Walsh

    The only thing that can rival the greatness of the Golden State Warriors is the greatness of Jim Cavan.

  4. Donnie Walsh

    D’Antoni and Bob Myers were both interviewed on XM radio today. D’Antoni talked of how Golden State had perfected his vision. He said he had wanted to use Marion predominantly as the 5 on his Phoenox team, but couldn’t sell it to the other players. Myers confirmed that Green’s versatility and ability to guard at the 5 allows Kerr’s system to work. (It’s too bad we never got D’Antoni a PG better than Ray Felton or Chris Duhon, let alone a historically versatile forward like Marion or Draymond).

  5. ephus

    If you are a Sports Editor and you are not throwing buckets of money at Jim Cavan to write for your publication/site, you are doing it wrong.

    Peabody Award level stuff.

    On the game, even with the great first quarter, the Knicks do not belong on the same floor as the Warriors. Not a knock on the Knicks; the Warriors are just that awesome.

  6. Eyal

    The Knicks schedule to the end of the season has only 7 games against top teams: Clippers (road), Warriors (road), Chicago twice (home and home), Cleveland (home), and Toronto twice (home and away).

    Everything else is a winnable game against mediocre or bad teams. Barring injuries they should be in the playoffs.

  7. ephus

    I wish we could clone Langston Galloway

    When I was sitting in the crowd for the 2009 Draft, I wished that we could clone Steph Curry, so that we could have taken Clone Curry at 8 after the Warriors took Curry at 7.

  8. Frank

    Langston did a legit great job on Curry. Sure, Curry had an off night, but he didn’t get free as much as he usually does.

    Afflalo was absolute garbage. When he’s playing against a smaller guard, he’s great, but otherwise he really struggles.

    I was a little disheartened by how poorly KP did against Green. I’d love to chalk it up to the respiratory infection. Let’s see if KP takes this personally and does a better job when they play in CA.

  9. Frank

    I think if we sign Batum, I could seriously see Galloway as our PG of the future. We’d have 2 playmaking wings in Melo and Batum, and Galloway could be our version of Derek Fisher or BJ Armstrong.

    I wrote it last night and I still think this – our defense actually wasn’t bad last night. There were a few open basket cuts for dunks, but for the most part, GS took shots that against any other team you’d be happy with. They shot 18/31 (58%) on contested FGA, as compared to 13/53 (24%) for us.

    Klay is just ridiculous. For the year he shoots 62.5% from 3 point range on “very tight” coverage and 43.4% on “tight coverage”.

  10. DRed

    Klay is terrific, but you can see from last night how much he benefits by being the guy who isn’t Steph Curry.

    I was a little disheartened by how poorly KP did against Green. I’d love to chalk it up to the respiratory infection

    Yeah, a bit, but Green is really good, and Porzingis is 20. Kris did have 6 boards and 14 efficient points in 20 minutes against one of the greatest teams in NBA history. That’s pretty encouraging

  11. er

    So I think we can officially say that Klay > Kevin Love.

    Haha. That was probably the most heated non Melo topic since i have been a part of this board.

  12. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    So I think we can officially say that Klay > Kevin Love.

    Can we? In 1500+ minutes played this season, Klay Thompson — who is 6’7″ — has nineteen ORB. Over the course of his career, he averages one offensive rebound per 81 minutes.

    I’m all for saying that Klay Thompson is a good piece for the Warriors, and even into defending that non-trade ex post facto (although at the time, Love was clearly the better offensive player), but let’s not act like every night is a 14-18 shooting performance. He’s got an excellent TS% and is pretty much bad at everything else measurable on the court.

  13. lavor postell

    Klay is one of the better wing defenders in the league. Love is one of the worst frontcourt defenders in the league. That’s a measurable.

  14. lavor postell

    Pretty amazing how Miami’s been winning games in the absence of all-time great Hassan Whiteside

  15. d-mar

    Pretty amazing how Miami’s been winning games in the absence of all-time great Hassan Whiteside

    And Phoenix has been losing a ton of games despite the presence of he whose name shall not be mentioned

  16. DRed

    Love is one of the worst frontcourt defenders in the league. That’s a measurable.

    How would we measure that?

  17. djphan

    @6 – i do think this GS team is sort of unique both in it’s personnel and the time in the league with the dearth of big men… they would be good in other eras but not quite this good… that is about to change fairly quickly tho once towns, porzingis, davis get on the right team…. nobody makes them pay for playing draymond at center which is why they can be so good on offense…

  18. lavor postell

    Look at his tracking stats. Watch how teams like SAS and GSW constantly put him in PNR when they need a bucket and he’s on the floor. It’s pretty easy to see how Love is an awful defensive player.

    Players on average are shooting 3.7% better than average from the field when defended by Love and shoot better than their average in every single zone when he’s the primary defender.

  19. Owen

    Bogut isn’t the worst big man. Especially on defense.

    I think Love’s defensive decrepitude is overstated.

  20. DRed

    Players on average are shooting 3.7% better than average from the field when defended by Love and shoot better than their average in every single zone when he’s the primary defender.

    Okay. How does that compare to other players at his position? He doesn’t foul very often-how much does a decrease in fouling effect scoring?

  21. lavor postell

    Him not fouling much is because he’s rarely in position to effectively contest shots. It’s another dimension of him being a bad defensive player.

    Dirk, another universally acknowledged poor defender, is allowing his man to shoot 0.7% better than average overall.

    LMA is forcing his man to shoot -3.4% worse from the field than average.

    Thaddeus Young, an undersized PF, is like Dirk allowing his man to shoot 0.7% better than average.

    I don’t have the time right now to go through every single starting PF and draw the comparison to Love, but really I don’t think I need to. He’s consistently been a bad defensive player throughout his career. Generally his offense is good enough to outweigh that, especially if he can get on higher usage with more touches in the post and elbows instead of just as a spot up 4. Maybe Cleveland will continue to do that under Lue and his defensive shortcomings will be irrelevant as Cleveland morphs in to some unstoppable offensive juggernaut.

    Either way Klay is the perfect complement to what GSW does offensively, playing off of Steph and Dray high PNR in a way that Love would not be. They would actively have to change their spacing to get Love his touches in his sweet spot and likely reduce the amount of time Curry and Dray get to play the 2 man game with each other. At the time I thought not trading Klay for Love was kind of silly, but after 1.5 years of watching it work out I think it’s fine to say that GSW made the right call there.

  22. thenamestsam

    There was an interesting (albeit brief) discussion on Zach Lowe’s most recent podcast with Kevin Pelton about Love’s defense. Plus-minus based systems really like his defense this season (he’s 9th in defensive plus-minus among all PFs in the league in ESPN’s system, just ahead of Porzingod). Pelton’s argument was that the things Love does poorly on defense – mainly some of his PnR coverage tend to be real eyesores and thus get noticed, while the things he does really well are things that he prevents from happening (specifically fouls and offensive rebounds) and thus go overlooked.

    I definitely think he’s a liability on that end against Golden State – he just can’t keep up with the pace and the ball movement and they’re so good at picking on him, but against like 27 teams in the league I think the things he does well on D at least mostly make up for the things he does poorly.

  23. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    And Phoenix has been losing a ton of games despite the presence of he whose name shall not be mentioned

    Weird. It’s almost like his stats peaked between the ages of 27 and 30 and somehow have been going down since… I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

  24. lavor postell

    I just can’t take RPM seriously until they release the formula. Idk why that’s such a big secret, but if you’re going to create some advanced metric to assess players’ defensive quality and then make it a black box that’s not a path I’m walking down.

    Love is bad at rim protection, PNR and post defense. He’s objectively bad at actual defense. Him being a great rebounder mitigates that a bit, but it’s a drawback of his game. Against most teams it won’t matter because his offensive strengths will outweigh what he gives up defensively and Cleveland is just flat out better than everybody that’s not GSW or SAS really. It is an issue against them though because the margins for Cleveland are much smaller and all of their weaknesses become magnified, just like San Antonio’s continued dependence on Duncan at the 5 isn’t an issue when they play Houston with him out but is a glaring problem when they play GSW or Cleveland.

  25. Donnie Walsh

    Nobody makes them pay for playing draymond at center which is why they can be so good on offense…

    Green guarded Davis is the playoffs. He guarded Gasol in the playoffs. He guarded Howard in the playoffs. If you think having a dominant big man is the key to beating Golden State, I’m going to disagree with you.

    Anthony Mason didn’t guard Olajuwon and others because he had to. He guarded them because he was better at guarding bugs in the post than Ewing and Oakley. Green is Mason-like in his defensive competitiveness.

  26. lavor postell

    Fouling someone is not effectively contesting a shot-fouling is generally a bad result.

    You generally will commit more fouls if you’re contesting shots, especially as a 4 or 5 because many of those attempts will come at the rim where offensive players generally get the benefit of the doubt when there’s any contact. That’s why a player like Duncan who can and does contest a lot of shots in the paint and at the rim effectively without getting whistled for a lot of fouls is so valuable.

  27. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    At the time I thought not trading Klay for Love was kind of silly, but after 1.5 years of watching it work out I think it’s fine to say that GSW made the right call there.

    After a 44-4 start, the only criticism I can make of the Warriors is that Mo Speights better have some kind of magical intangible effect on that team, because he is one of the worst players in the NBA. I have been watching a lot of Warriors games and I am speechless whenever he gets the ball. It’s like one awkward post move after another and he has never passed the ball in his life. At least when a player like Chandler grabs the ball, he’s usually already moving toward the basket and rising in the air. Speights plays one-on-one basketball while his team plays like the Globetrotters.

    Keeping Thompson was a good move. I doubt the Warriors would be better than 44-4 if they had Kevin Love.

  28. d-mar

    Weird. It’s almost like his stats peaked between the ages of 27 and 30 and somehow have been going down since… I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

    True, every NBA player hits a wall at age 30 and their stats go down the toilet. Duncan, Nowitzki, to name a few.

  29. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    True, every NBA player hits a wall at age 30 and their stats go down the toilet. Duncan, Nowitzki, to name a few.

    hahahaha oh right I forgot about those two representative examples of how pro athletes don’t decline in performance after their twenties

  30. Frank O.

    Classic, coffee-spitting Cavan line:
    Namely that Affalo, who finished with five points on are-you-fucking-kidding-me from the field, has lately struggled to find his way in Derek Fisher’s triangle-hybrid offense.

    With regards to KP v. Green:
    Green has been making a lot of forwards look badly this year. Not sure you can say much about KP here. His foul troubles have been fairly consistent all year. KP needs to learn the fine line between constructive defensive aggression and folly. He’s too valuable to the team for this.

    The efficiency of Green and Thompson was astounding.

  31. ephus

    One other point is that Draymond Green and Kevin Love ostensibly play the same position. It is conceivable that the two could play together, but unlikely.

  32. Frank

    Weird. It’s almost like his stats peaked between the ages of 27 and 30 and somehow have been going down since… I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

    True, every NBA player hits a wall at age 30 and their stats go down the toilet. Duncan, Nowitzki, to name a few.

    I think you can figure out which athletes will age better than others – namely look at their actual skill level separate from their athleticism — ie. their ability to play old-man ball, using footwork, fakes, etc. to continue to be effective offensively as they age. I loved Tyson while he was here, but he was not a skilled player even back when he was amazingly effective. Duncan, Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, even Kobe learned to play old-man ball. Melo has always played old man ball, so hopefully he will age nicely enough that he won’t be a liability at the end of this contract.

  33. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Sure, but sometimes you can’t tell. Andre Miller sure looks like a player who could play into his forties, but I was surprised to find that Earl Boykins was on an NBA roster through age 35. A 5’5″ player at 35!

  34. DRed

    Lavor, I’m not telling you that Love is a good defender. I’m saying you’ve done a bad job of convincing me he’s objectively one of the worst defensive forwards in the NBA (which he may well be). One game against golden state in which Cleveland’s defense actually was worse with him off the court doesn’t tell us that he can’t be on the court against the Warriors. I remember a Cavs team featuring Kevin Love laying a drubbing on Golden State less than a year ago. Has GS completely changed its offense?

  35. djphan

    @35 – i think having a good big man is one way to beat GS… playing against dwight howard or gasol is one thing .. it’s entirely another if you had to face davis with a good team around him…. they just never had to and they’ve exploited that better than anyone….

    this is all hypotheticals and opinions but i just don’t see gs stacking up that well against something like the shaq lakers or even the olajuwan rockets… doesn’t mean they’re not great but if the current crop of big men develop as expected and the teams around those guys get better.. they’re not really built to fight against those kind of teams…

  36. d-mar

    There was one game in the Finals last year where Golden State allowed Mozgov to score layup after layup (and certain Kbloggers were crying about ever giving up such a stud in the Melo deal) but guess who won the game? Granted, Mozgov isn’t AD, but going big against GS just means more 3’s for them and a few more 2’s for you.

  37. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    JR Smith, Delly and Shumpert shot a combined 7-35 from the floor in that game

    shhhhhh somehow Mosgov’s layups were gimmes and their FGA weren’t

  38. TheXman

    Knicks gonna finish like 10th or 11th in the East, the dreaded middle of the pack. They don’t have a 1st pick so getting a 10th round pick isn’t that valuable anyways. Regardless, at least our future is still brighter than those 10th place teams we fielded of Eddy Curry, David Lee, Krypto Nate…or an aging Allan Houston and Spree.

  39. djphan

    @46- yes i remember that game… but it’s more indicative of how bad the others were on offense that they could allow mozgov to do THAT and still lose…

    there hasn’t been a reliable low post scorer since the last time duncan was offensively dominant.. and shooting 50+% from 2 is still worth more than 40+% from 3 if you take fouls into account…

  40. d-mar

    Put Anthony Davis or Dwight Howard on Draymond Green, tell me how that works out for you. Worked out pretty well for Zinger last night

  41. djphan

    can’t really speak for dwight howard but you sub out davis for dwight howard and i bet houston beats gs…

  42. dtrickey

    Great write up Jim! I went back and watched the replay last night (because I am a glutton for punishment), and man the Warriors are just next level. I don’t think we were that terrible on D, and got a few Good performances from some key guys; just that whole team is a step (or several) above just about everyone in the league at the moment.

  43. hosket

    After a day of reflection…..wasn’t so bad. Just wish it came in the middle of a winning streak….

  44. ClashFan

    So, suddenly the last 2 days this site freezes up repeatedly in Firefox within a few minutes. Never happened before. The site seems to be fine in Chrome, so maybe I need to just convert to that, anyways.

    No other web sites of the many I visit freeze up. Any ideas why?

  45. Donnie Walsh

    @46- yes i remember that game… but it’s more indicative of how bad the others were on offense that they could allow mozgov to do THAT and still lose…

    In fact it so didn’t work for the Cavs that Mozgov played only 9 minutes the next game and took one shot.

  46. Donnie Walsh

    Mo Speights better have some kind of magical intangible effect on that team, because he is one of the worst players in the NBA. I have been watching a lot of Warriors games and I am speechless whenever he gets the ball. It’s like one awkward post move after another and he has never passed the ball in his life. At least when a player like Chandler grabs the ball, he’s usually already moving toward the basket and rising in the air. Speights plays one-on-one basketball while his team plays like the Globetrotters

    Wait, are you using the eye-test, Jowles? Against a guy that was a top PAWS48 guy coming out of college? And had a .158 WS/48 last year in 1200+ minutes for a world champion? #floored

  47. massive

    Speights this year has been terrible, though. A TS% of what, .444? That’s horrible. He rebounds well per 36 and that’s probably why he gets 10 minutes a night but there’s truth to be how he’s been on court this year. He sucks so far.

  48. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Wait, are you using the eye-test, Jowles? Against a guy that was a top PAWS48 guy coming out of college? And had a .158 WS/48 last year in 1200+ minutes for a world champion? #floored

    He hasn’t always been this bad, but this year he has been abysmal. If he had a TS% of .600 and he looked as bad as he has, I would say that there’s something wrong with my eyes. This dude is on a whole new level of suck. Watch Warriors basketball and see what happens when he gets the ball. There will be no passing, just him doing a shitty, back-to-the-basket post move and throwing up a line drive at the rim. And the crazy thing is that he’s second on the team in FGA/48! Like, nearly as many shot attempts as Curry per minute!

  49. Donnie Walsh

    In Speights’ defense, he was really, really good last year when both Bogut and Ezeli where injured and he had to play starters minutes.

    This year he is 4th on the depth chart and plays primarily when the Warriors are up by 20. I’m sure if he played a meaningful moment of basketball he wouldn’t shoot the 20 foot fade away hook shot.

  50. Donnie Walsh

    Speights’, when Bogut got hurt last season, had these numbers: 28.4 points and 11.1 rebounds per36; a usage over 31% and a Ws48 of .255; a TS% over .600.

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