Recently, we re-started a series of articles called “Dubs by the Digits.” These articles give fans a quick statistical breakdown on members of the Golden State Warriors. This week, we will feature Festus Ezeli.
Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli missed all of last season while recovering from right knee surgery. Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group reported today that Ezeli has been cleared to play and that he expects to play in the Las Vegas Summer League next month.
Read the full story at Golden Gate Sports.
The Golden State Warriors entered their five-day break between games a little banged up. After Friday night’s victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, in which Marc Gasol knee’d Andrew Bogut in the groin, they’re even more banged up.
David Lee suffered a hamstring strain in last Saturday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, Stephen Curry has been nursing a right quad injury, although he told LetsGoWarriors.com last Tuesday that it was all but gone, Andre Iguodala has been dealing with a right “jumper’s knee” or knee tendinitis, prior to the pelvic contusion Bogut had a tweaked ankle, and Festus Ezeli is still rehabbing from right knee surgery.
This time off helped heal some of the wounds that many Warriors’ players were dealing with, and it also allowed us to get an update on each nagging injury.
Let’s start off with Lee. LetsGoWarriors at practice yesterday and the Warriors informed us of the following:
Mark Jackson said David Lee (hamstring) hasn’t done any live running yet, & he’ll be smart despite the power forward’s desire to play vs NY.
— Rusty Simmons (@Rusty_SFChron) March 29, 2014
At Tuesday’s practice, Lee discussed his injury status and the benefits of this break.
“Everybody got to get away from the game for a couple days and get rested up,” Lee said. “As you know, I’m battling a little hamstring thing, so hopefully I’ll be ready for Friday, making progress everyday. But without that, I’d be having to miss games right now.
“Once again, just like the All-Star break, this break has come at a perfect time for our team. We’ve been playing really good basketball and just trying to come out of this and be sharp for Friday. I’m sure Coach will have us doing some stronger practices as we get closer to get our wind back.”
At Wednesday’s practice, Curry discussed his quad injury with us.
“It’s pretty much gone at this point,” Curry said. “The rest from this week helped to get that last little bit of soreness. I still got to do a little bit here and there to get ready for games, but at this point in the season everyone’s got nicks and bruises and bangs.
“It’s not really on my mind much when I’m playing anymore, which is definitely an improvement from weeks past.”
Iguodala discussed the five days off and provided an update on his knee tendinitis at Tuesday’s practice.
“Well I think it’d be helpful for anybody,” Iguodala said about the break. “It’s not common you get a stretch like this where you go and you get four or five days off right in the middle of the schedule. It’s really just important to just to be cautious but also be effective with trying to get back as soon as possible.”
When asked if he would play on Friday against the Grizzlies, he said, “Yeah, that’s the plan. I got a really good workout yesterday with Coach Myers and then got some good reps up today, really just taking care of minor things in the weight room for the last five days, small tedious muscles that you forget about and get those back working and take some stress off the area.”
Read updates on Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli’s injuries and the rest of the article at Let’s Go Warriors.
This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
The Golden State Warriors prepared for their final push into the playoffs in an unlikely place. It wasn’t on the court during practice. It wasn’t during their recent 4-2 road trip. It was in a movie theater.
Harrison Barnes, Jermaine O’Neal, Draymond Green and Festus Ezeli went to an advanced screening of 300: Rise Of An Empire in Oakland last night. The movie opens up in theaters nationwide today. You can learn more about the film at their Facebook or Twitter page.
OK, so maybe the Warriors didn’t physically prepare for the last six weeks of the season by sitting in a dark movie theater, but perhaps they gained some inspiration for their push to the playoffs.
The protagonist in the movie, Themistokles, is an inspiring, passionate leader who leads the Athenians into battle to protect their loved ones and their homeland of Greece.
At one point in the movie, he brings his troops together in order to inspire some confidence before a battle where the Athenians are greatly overmatched.
Themistokles says to his soldiers, more poetically than I can say, to not fight for a cause but rather for the man next to them.
The Warriors don’t find themselves in bloody battles, but they surely do play for each other and play as a team. Much like the Athenians, they have a truly unique team chemistry, bonded and united in “battle.”
Whether they are battling on the court or going to see a movie together, this Warriors team truly enjoys being around each other. In fact, the newest Warrior, Steve Blake, said he has always been impressed with how close the Warriors players are on and off the court.
Many of the Warriors players also share an underdog mentality, one of the reasons why this group gets along with each other so well. They’re a confident group, yet they’re often underestimated, just like the Athenians were.
Because of this never-say-die attitude, the Warriors constantly have to prove themselves. O’Neal reminded his teammates of this during a game against the Toronto Raptors on Dec. 3.
The Warriors were down by 17 at the half and were down by as many as 27 points during the third quarter. O’Neal felt the team needed a wake-up call. He passionately preached to his teammates at halftime about how this was the kind of game where they could make a statement.
He said that if they wanted to show that they’re an elite team in the NBA, they had to play like one. O’Neal channeled some of Themistokles’ ferocity when he told his teammates that they had to “dispose of the teams we’re supposed to dispose of and then grind like hell against the teams that are top-echelon-type teams.”
Unlike last season when the Warriors were able to sneak up on some of their opponents, the Warriors have had to play this season with hypothetical targets on their backs. The Warriors deserve to win, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to fight for it.
The Warriors undoubtedly have passion. They have the heart, the character, the loyalty, and the teamwork that great teams possess. They are the underdogs that rise to the occasion. They are the comeback kids. They are like the Athenians that don’t give up and that fight until the very end.
As metaphorical as this sounds, a simple outing to the movie theater between four teammates sheds some light on the Warriors’ impressive team chemistry, their determination, and their underdog mentality.
The roar of the soliders in the movie might not motivate them quite as much as the roar of the crowd at Oracle at any given home game. The viciousness displayed by the Persians in the movie isn’t completely comparable to the viciousness of an Andrew Bogut block. The visual effects, the cinematography, and the overall beauty of the film might not be the same kind of beauty as a Curry three.
Instead of screaming “This is Sparta!” before going into battle, they rally around the slogan of “We Are Warriors.”
It might be far-fetched to compare the Warriors to the Athenians … but the Warriors are warriors. They possess the same tenacity, fighting spirit, and underdog mentality that Barnes, Green, O’Neal, and Ezeli witnessed from the Athenians in 300: Rise Of An Empire. Just with a little less gore and bloodshed.
Rally the troops and come root for the underdogs, because this Warriors team could make a statement in the final stretch of this season … in the movie theater and on the court.
This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
The Golden State Warriors are expected to be one of the best teams in the Western Conference this season. They have six proven starters and have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. Despite all these impressive qualities, the Warriors’ bench has been disappointing so far this season.
Even though the Warriors have a deep roster and have such a powerful starting lineup, the bench hasn’t come together as a cohesive unit yet. To be fair, there are many new faces coming off of that bench this year, such as Toney Douglas, Marreese Speights, Ognjen Kuzmic, Jermaine O’Neal and Nemanja Nedovic.
In addition to these newcomers, the Warriors’ reserves also include Kent Bazemore and Draymond Green. They will also have Harrison Barnes coming off the bench soon and once Festus Ezeli returns from injury, he will come off the bench as well. The Warriors certainly have talent coming off the bench, but the reserves haven’t shown yet that they can play cohesively together.
“I’ve been very disappointed in the way that those guys have closed out ballgames,” Mark Jackson said about his bench. “They’ve had opportunities to play extended minutes and they haven’t made statements with their play.”
The bench has really struggled in a few specific areas. Generally, the reserves have struggled on the offensive side. Defensively, they are actually quite impressive.
The first thing the bench is lacking is someone who can create their own shot. This is the area where the Warriors miss Jarrett Jack the most. With the shot clock winding down and a broken play, Jack was able to make something out of nothing and create his own shot. No one on the Warriors’ bench has shown they can do that this season. Once Barnes comes back though, he will most likely help in that category.
Second, the bench needs a proven floor general. They need another ball handler and someone who can initiate the offense. Douglas, Nedovic and Bazemore haven’t proven that they can run the offense smoothly and create opportunities for their teammates if a play breaks down. Unless one of those players proves that they can consistently do that, Jackson might have to keep one of the starters in with the reserves at all times. To ensure the offense continues to run smoothly, Jackson would have to leave in a playmaker like Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson or Andre Iguodala.
Lastly, the Warriors’ bench is lacking a serious low-post threat. This is the area that the Warriors miss Carl Landry the most. Landry was a threat from mid-range and on the low block. He could back down his opponent and attack the rim. The Warriors have tried to run plays with O’Neal and Speights on the low block, but they haven’t been successful. O’Neal is not quick enough anymore to be a consistent low-post threat, and Speights is more successful as a mid-range jump shooter off of a pick-and-pop, for example.
It’s hard not to speculate how successful this Warriors bench would be if they had been able to keep both Jack and Landry and have Barnes as a reserve too. However bad the Warriors’ bench can look at times, there are several reasons why it’s too early to panic about the bench play so far.
First of all, this Warriors team and the bench, specifically, need some time to adjust. There are so many new players and they’ve only been playing together for a couple months now. They’re just now getting a sense of what the rotation will be like throughout the season. Soon the reserves will have a better idea about when they will usually come into a game and who they will be playing with. This comfort will certainly help them play more cohesively.
Second, Barnes hasn’t played yet in the regular season. His presence and his play will significantly improve the Warriors’ bench. He can create his own shot, as mentioned before, and he can provide that much-needed spark off the bench. He will be the offensive focal point for the Warriors’ second unit, which will allow the bench to thrive and will help Barnes’ development as a player.
Even if the bench still struggles once Barnes is back, Jackson can continue to play one of his starters with the reserves. So far, he’s played Thompson and Iguodala with the reserves, which has usually produced better results since it gives the bench that much-needed playmaker. With Barnes and another starter playing with the reserves, the offense would flow much more smoothly.
Also, Ezeli’s return will greatly help the bench too. His presence won’t necessarily have the same impact that Barnes’ presence will have, but Ezeli allows Jackson to rest Kuzmic and O’Neal more. It also will give the Warriors another big man off the bench who can rebound and defend.
The Warriors’ bench has clearly struggled so far this season. Having Barnes play with the reserves will vastly improve the Warriors’ bench, especially on offense where the bench has struggled the most. Although the bench has been disappointing so far compared to last season’s dynamic duo off the bench, Jack and Landry, there is no need for concern just yet. The Warriors will find a way to adjust, and the bench will continue to evolve into a useful weapon for this young, contending team.