The best teams in the NBA all have some sort of image that opposing fans can cling to with disdain, knowing full well that it’s central to the team’s success. The Miami Heat are the AAU villains. The Boston Celtics are a little bit psychotic. The Lakers are greedy consumers of big men and celebrity energy. The Spurs? Well, the Spurs are businesslike. Okay, that’s a politically correct way of saying it. David Lee?
“It’s like a boring way to play,” Lee said of the Spurs after he and the Warriors lost 113-102, the Warriors’ 11th straight loss to San Antonio. “But it’s so effective.”
The Warriors, on the other hand, are fun and nice. They like each other. They don’t let a boring loss to the Spurs get to them; from the showers after the game you could hear the players, led by Lee, talking about how to better defend the Spurs’ pick and roll, and then after that they took turns doting on Dorell Wright’s little son Devin (who really enjoys playing on the locker room chairs, as the video below shows).
They care. They’re trying. They seem to be good guys, and the locker room chemistry is reportedly MUCH better than in previous years. But in the NBA, has any “nice” team ever won anything?
Lee’s excellent statistics tonight (31 pts, 12 reb, 13-for-19 from the field, 5-for-5 from the line) was the topic of a lot of chatter after the game, for all the wrong reasons. Lee was his regular, chatty self after the game, and the feeling among some was that Lee may be one of those, “I got mine” type of players.
I don’t necessarily think that’s true, but maybe I feel that way because Lee’s so darn likable. He’s extremely quotable after games, and to be fair he’s also one of the only Warriors who’ll give a hard foul with a dirty look on top of it. He can get chippy, and the Warriors need more of that. But if Lee’s true strengths on the floor are shooting a high percentage and collecting opportunistic put-backs, they need someone nasty alongside him to handle the talented bigs that teams like the Spurs have in abundance.
That’s where Andris Biedrins comes in. 27 minutes, 0 points and 4 rebounds. And if Louis Amundson could have provided any sort of production tonight, Biedrins would have gotten fewer minutes than that. It’s tough to expect the Warriors to defeat the team with the NBA’s best record; it’s impossible when their starting center is completely worthless.
Keith Smart has to do something about Biedrins, and fast. Forget maintaining trade value — off-season complaints in Latvian, foul line phobia and defensive ineffectiveness have tanked that, at least this year. The Warriors need to give extended run to Ekpe Udoh and Brandan Wright (Amundson wouldn’t be a bad idea either, but he’s either still hurt or in the midst of a terrible season), because there’s absolutely no way they could be worse than Biedrins at this point. It would be worth a few missed defensive rotations to get some scoring, rebounds and blocked shots from the post. Brandan can at least provide something in the first two categories, and Udoh can give you a sprinkling of all three.
After tonight when the Spurs’ bench outscored the Warriors’ reserves 46-14, and out-rebounded them 24-4, the easy thing to do is point to the Spurs’ boring front office and say they’ve just done a better job putting together a deep team — kind of like complaining that the kids who got the best grades on the latest test studied too much. Perhaps if the Warriors put their bench players in for more than 5 minutes per game (Reggie Williams is included here as well), they’d become solid contributors like Tiago Splitter, Antonio McDyess, Gary Neal, and the rest of the Spurs’ boring backups.