Month: December 2013

LGW: Golden State Warriors Need Strong Start, Better Defense Against Orlando Magic

(Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel)

(Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel)

The Golden State Warriors overcame another big deficit on Sunday to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime 108-104. The Warriors were down by as many as 17 points but rallied back in the second half to win.

There have been several occasions this season where the Warriors have dug themselves into a big hole early because they get off to a slow start and play poor defense. This was the case again on Sunday.

The Cavaliers shot 52.2 percent and scored 64 points in the first half. In the second half though, the Warriors held them to 30.4 percent shooting.

Draymond Green was a significant part of that defensive surge in the second half. He grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds and four blocks in the win. He explained the significance of this win to Brian Dulik of NBA.com.

“Getting down by 17 wasn’t ideal, but the games that you’re supposed to win, you have to win. It wasn’t quite in the fashion that we wanted to do it, but it was key that we came in here and got the win.”

Heading into their matchup today against the Orlando Magic, the Warriors need to play four full quarters of strong defense if they want to pull off this road win. They hope to bring in that same defensive intensity against the Magic that they had in the second half against the Cavaliers.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.

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LGW: Golden State Warriors Bench Wish List: Marcus Thornton, Xavier Henry?

(Photo: Xavier Henry: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports, Marcus Thornton pic: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America)

(Photo: Xavier Henry: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports, Marcus Thornton pic: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America)

In Part One of this article, we discussed how the Golden State Warriors bench needs someone like a “Poor Man’s” Jamal Crawford.

The starters would be able to rest more with this kind of player on the roster, and this would also allow Mark Jackson to more comfortably rest Klay Thompson at times when he’s struggling to shoot the ball.

This player could fill the role that Jarrett Jack had last season, except with less point-guard duties. Jack would come in to the game and was fearless. He wasn’t afraid to take a big shot, he could initiate his own offense, and he could score in a variety of ways. That’s what the Warriors are lacking.

A couple shooting guards that the Warriors could potentially try to acquire are Xavier Henry and Marcus Thornton. These are two players who provide instant offense and can take over a game with their scoring or shooting ability.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.

Golden State Warriors: Is Harrison Barnes Disappointing In Year 2?

Nov 29, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Golden State Warriors small forward Harrison Barnes (40) handles the ball against Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The Golden State Warriors are fortunate enough to have six proven starters on their roster. Because of the addition of Andre Iguodala in the offseason, Mark Jackson decided to move Harrison Barnes to the bench. Barnes could possibly start on any other NBA team, but, with the Warriors, he’s their sixth man.

Many Warriors fans feared that the addition of Iguodala would hinder Barnes’ development. Warriors fans weren’t able to see for a while though that acquiring and starting Iguodala over Barnes was the right move for the Warriors. Barnes dealt with left foot inflammation in the preseason, so, for a while, the Warriors weren’t able to see their full potential as a team until he returned to action November 6th against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

In his return from injury, he played just 14 minutes off the bench and he finished with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting. He was as dominant as he was in the playoffs and he was aggressive on offense. He created his own shots and he scored in multiple ways.

Iguodala injured his hamstring a couple weeks after Barnes returned, so Barnes went back to starting. Now that Iguodala has returned from his injury though, Barnes is back to the sixth man role. Some fans have been discouraged by his production, especially since Iguodala has returned.

Barnes has played in 26 games so far this season, and he’s started 15 of those games. In his 15 games as a starter, he’s averaging 14.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 38.7 minutes per game. In 11 games as a reserve, he’s averaging 9.3 points, three rebounds and one assist in 23.2 minutes per game (similar to his stat line as a rookie last season). Overall this season, he’s averaging 12.2 points, four rebounds and 1.7 assists in 32.1 minutes per game.

Statistically, it’s clear that Barnes produces more as a starter, but this is true of many players, given the higher amount of minutes as a starter. His stat line might not be as impressive as when he averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists in 38.4 minutes in 12 games during the playoffs last season. Barnes hasn’t had a disappointing season though.

Part of the reason why he had so much success in the postseason last year was because David Lee was sidelined with his hip flexor injury. Because of that, he was given the opportunity to play more minutes and start at power forward. He was able to take advantage of slower power forwards and use his speed and explosiveness to his advantage.

Some fans might be disappointed with Barnes’ play so far this season, he’s still developing. Not only is he developing into a completely new role of sixth man, but many people forget that he’s still only 21 years old. A significant change in a player’s role would be tough for anyone and especially for a player who is so young. He’s still developing as a basketball player, and he’s still learning how to utilize his incredible strength and athleticism.

Barnes can be frustrating to watch at times. When he’s at his best, he’s aggressive, he’s dunking on people, and he’s showcasing all elements of his game. However, when he’s at his worst, he struggles to make mid-range shots, he forces himself into tough shots when he posts up, and he disappears on offense.

As frustrating as this can be, Warriors fans must realize that this is normal for such a young player, especially one that has had to take on a new role this season. Barnes’ development is a process, and having Iguodala around to mentor him will certainly help.

Barnes just needs to find a way to get his shots, stay aggressive and stay confident. Of course this is easier said than done for a young player, but Barnes will continue to learn and develop into his sixth man role. The Warriors still have many more games to play, so Barnes will have many more opportunities to live up to his potential.

LGW: What the Golden State Warriors’ Bench is Missing

Photo credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Photo credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Based on preseason expectations, the Golden State Warriors have had a somewhat disappointing season so far. They currently have a 15-13 win-loss record, which isn’t bad, but doesn’t reflect the immense amount of talent on this team.

They entered the 2013-14 NBA season with great expectations, but, recently, they have failed to play their dominant style of basketball.

Instead of playing their fast-paced, defense-first brand of basketball, they’ve been, more often than than not, sloppy. Their defense has been inconsistent,and their offense looks misguided at times.

One of the biggest problems for the Warriors this season has been their bench.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.

LGW: Preview: San Antonio Spurs (20-5) at Golden State Warriors (14-12)

Source: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America

Source: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America

The Golden State Warriors will face the San Antonio Spurs in Oakland for the first time since their epic playoff series in the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals. As usual, the Spurs are having a fantastic season and currently have the third best record in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. Although the Warriors have been struggling recently, they started to play their true brand of basketball in Tuesday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans. A big reason for this re-emergence into relevance is because of the return of Andre Iguodala.

Iguodala surprised many Warriors fans by returning to the court on Tuesday after missing 12 games with a strained hamstring. He only had two points and two assists in 17 minutes, but his presence completely changed how the Warriors’ played.

Iguodala provides the Warriors with another ball handler who can run the offense, which allows Stephen Curry to play off the ball. His defense also greatly impacts the Warriors’ defense as a team, and he pushes the Warriors to play at a faster tempo, which leads to better basketball.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.

San Francisco Giants: Is Michael Morse The Answer?

Sep 20, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles right fielder Michael Morse (38) works out prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.

The San Francisco Giants have finally found their everyday left fielder. The Giants agreed to terms with Michael Morse on a one-year contract worth $6 million plus incentives based on plate appearances, which could lead to $3 million more. Morse has played nine seasons in MLB for the Seattle Mariners, Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles. Morse, who will be 32 on Opening Day next season, is expected to be the starting left fielder for the Giants, but he can also play right field, first base, and even some third base.

Last season, he struggled at the plate because of a wrist injury as he hit .215, had a .270 OBP, and a .381 slugging percentage. He did have 13 home runs and 27 RBI though in 88 games. The Giants are hoping that he can re-create the great production he had in the 2011 season with the Nationals when he hit .303 with 31 home runs, 95 RBI, and he had a .360 OBP and a .550 slugging percentage.

“For me, I thought he was our best option and it’s certainly what I wanted,” Bruce Bochy said. “I’ve always liked him. He’s a threat up there.”

Morse brings many things to the Giants that they severely lacked last season. First of all, the Giants needed a left fielder with right-handed power. One of Morse’s strongest qualities is his immense power. Last season, the Giants had some of the worst production from left field in all of MLB. Giants’ left fielders hit just five home runs last season, the fewest in the majors, and had a collective .651 OPS, the lowest of any position for the Giants.

AT&T Park is known as the ballpark where power goes to die. However, Bochy believes that Morse will be able to translate his power to the confines of AT&T Park, even to the more daunting right field side.

Another quality that Morse brings to the Giants is his versatility. He’s not known for his defensive prowess, but his ability to play multiple positions will prove to be advantageous for the Giants. He was drafted as a shortstop, and, as mentioned before, he can play both corner outfield spots, first base, and third base. Bochy has said that Morse will be in the starting lineup every day, mostly at left field, but also sometimes at one of those other positions.

Lastly, Bochy believes that Morse will be a great fit in the clubhouse. Bochy knows Morse already, because he coached him on a traveling All-Star team in Taiwan in 2011. Bochy commended Morse’s impressive work ethic and energetic personality. He seems like a Hunter Pence-esque type of presence in the clubhouse and on the field, mostly because of his quirkiness and awkwardness.

Aug 4, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Seattle Mariners right fielder Michael Morse (38) doubles in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants have a history of acquiring players who are coming off of a poor year, production-wise, and getting fairly good production from them the next year. The Giants saw this pattern when they acquired Cody Ross, Aubrey Huff, and Pat Burrell in 2010. They’re hoping to receive this same type of result with Morse.

“He’s a great for us and what we need — a right-handed bat with power,” Bochy said. “I guess you could make a comparable to when we acquired Pat Burrell in 2010. When this guy is healthy, and he is now, he can do some damage. It’s well worth any risk to bring him aboard.”

The Giants will have many options in terms of their batting order. Bochy said that he likes putting Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Pence, and Pablo Sandoval in the number three through six spots in the batting order, but this might change with the addition of Morse. Bochy said that Morse could possibly hit fifth, sixth, or seventh. He likes keeping Belt in the three-hole, but depending on pitching matchups and who is hitting well at a given time, the lineup could change day-to-day.

The Giants will have a starting lineup that will look something like: Pagan CF, Scutaro 2B, Belt 1B, Posey C, Pence RF, Sandoval 3B, Morse LF, Crawford SS, and the pitcher’s spot. If everyone is healthy, this is a pretty strong lineup. The Giants will certainly have more power than they had last year with the addition of Morse, and they will have a good balance of speed, power, opposite-field hitting, etc.

In addition to a better starting lineup, another great part of the Morse signing is that it allows Gregor Blanco to come off the bench. Blanco was over-exposed last season because he had to play an everyday role. Blanco was supposed to platoon with Andres Torres, but when Pagan went down with his hamstring injury, Blanco was forced to start every day, which affected his offense.

Blanco will most likely be the Giants’ fourth outfielder and come into games as a defensive replacement in the late innnings for Morse. Since he can play all four outfield spots, he will earn some spot starts too, in order to give a rest day to any of the outfielders. This is the best role for Blanco, and he will be a valuable player off the bench for the Giants this upcoming season.

Morse has been labeled as injury-prone, but if he can play the majority of next season, he will be an excellent fit for this Giants team. As Bochy said, Morse will prove to be worth the risk. He provides some much-needed power, versatility, and a strong work ethic. If healthy, Morse could be the answer to many of the Giants’ problems from last season.

LGW: Preview: New Orleans Pelicans (11-11) at Golden State Warriors (13-12)

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The Golden State Warriors return home tonight and will face the New Orleans Pelicans. This is the Warriors’ second out of three games against the Pelicans this season. In the first game, the Warriors squeaked out a 102-101 win in New Orleans last month.

On Sunday, the Warriors lost to the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix by a score of 106-102. The Warriors are the best three-point shooting team in the league, as they shoot 41.6 percent from three as a team. However, the Suns looked like the best three-point shooting team on Sunday night. They shot an impressive 13-for-27 from three-point range and hit a few timely three-point shots that sealed their win.

The Warriors are stuck in a bit of a rut recently. They’re losing games they should be winning, and they’re failing to play their brand of basketball. The absence of Andre Iguodala partially explains their poor defensive play recently, but the Warriors need to find a way to win without him. They know how competitive the Western Conference is, and they know it’s still early in the season. It’s time for the Warriors to step up and face the adversity fearlessly. Stephen Curry shared his thoughts on the Warriors’ recent slump.

Read the rest of the article on Let’s Go Warriors.