The most frustrating part of the Suns game, for me, was that Phoenix hit more 3-pointers than the Raptors attempted free throws. While Gortat swatted five shots, the Raptors did a poor job of getting into the paint and drawing contact, check the shot chart:

Most of the action was in the mid-range with a few of those deeeeep jumpers; I’m not even showing the misses. It’s not like the Suns are super deep in the front court or anything, getting one or two of their guys who open up the paint nice and wide, but no, didn’t see any of that; shoot the ball against a weak defensive team, makes sense to me…

I reached out to my man, J.M. Poulard from Warriors World about the game tonight:

We were big fans of Ekpe Udoh (got him on a podcast) before the draft; gotta love big, athletic forwards who defend like champs. What’s your take on him?
Imagine a game in which the Los Angeles Lakers are playing and then suddenly they pass the ball to someone wearing a Celtics jersey; that would be weird right? In a nutshell, that’s Udoh. On a team that is so concerned with scoring, his defensive contributions just stand out when watching the Warriors play.

He does a good job of always playing hard and sprinting up and down the court to beat his man to the spot. He does not yet have the strength to match up with most power forwards and centers, however he does little things to try and throw off the timing of players he defends. For instance, he’ll shade his man to one side and dare him to drive to other, and then on the following possession he’ll shade to the opposite side or simply send the offensive player towards his help.

He always stays active and makes sure to get a body on someone once a shot goes up. Ekpe Udo is learning on the job, but he is doing a good job of doing so.

If you could take back the David Lee transaction from the summer, would you?
Initially, I was not a big fan of the David Lee move given the steep price the Warriors paid for him.  But the important thing is to look around the league and compare him to other players with relatively similar games and ages, and then it’s easier to gain some perspective on the move. Have a look below:

Player Age 2010-11 Salary* PPG RPG FG%
LaMarcus Aldridge 25 $10.7 22.2 8.7 50.0
Andrea Bargani 25 $8.0 22.0 5.4 45.0
Carlos Boozer 29 $14.4 18.0 9.3 52.3
David Lee 27 $10.8 15.9 9.5 49.1
Paul Millsap 26 $6.2 17.2 7.8 53.2
David West 31 $8.0 18.7 7.6 50.8

*Salary figures obtained from Hoopshype.

We are all aware of Lee’s shortcomings on defense, but he is still able to score efficiently and rebound the basketball, which is what teams ask their big men to do. Furthermore, you could even make the case that he should get more touches than what he is currently getting. With that said, I do feel as though he is a bit overpaid, but not necessarily by that much; his market value should be right around $8.0 million per season.

So to answer your question, I would probably still have made the transaction; although I would have tried to sign him for a bit less.

So there’s always been the perception that Curry and Ellis wouldn’t work well together, what do you have to say to that?
Stephen Curry helps out Monta Ellis immensely on the offensive end with his playmaking ability as well as his ability to stretch the floor. Monta benefits from some driving lanes just by having Curry on the floor and also does not always have to handle the ball to get his points since Steph can lead the break and feed him once he gets a full head of steam.

On the flip side, the former Davidson star defers far too much to Ellis and I’m not sure that Monta would have it any other way. At times, Curry is asked to just stand in the corner and wait for the ball, which isn’t really his strong suit.

Also, both players put the word defense to shame; which is kind of relevant when teams traditionally seek to keep players out of the paint. Ellis and Curry struggle in that department, thus opposing backcourts usually have good scoring nights against them. For the time being, the perception seems to be true, but to be fair I would like to see them play under a head coach that stresses defense. That’s when I feel like we’d get a better indication of whether they are truly doomed to fail.

The front office and coaching staff could look very different come next season; barring any lock out. Have they earned their keep? If not, who could be there replacement?
Although I do not have any insider info to confirm this, it seems to me that management wants a team that gets out and run and puts points on the board. As a result, Smart was brought in to have the team do just that. However, the defense has been atrocious which has made for several high scoring games, but a lot of losses.

Management has done a semi-decent job with the personnel, bringing in Dorrel Wright and David Lee last summer. Mind you, the rest of the roster does not seem to fit. There are several offensive minded players on the team, none of which are exactly fans of passing the ball. At times, it’s as if there are four J.R. Smith’s out on the court.

I would love to see Kevin Pritchard get a shot in Golden State. Save for the Oden over Durant draft move, he’s been very good at acquiring talent on the roster through the draft and also through trades. He was behind the drafting of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge (this happened with team president Steve Patterson serving as interim general manager but Pritchard was credited with much of the negotiation of the trades to acquire the picks that made the moves happen), he also acquired Rudy Fernandez and Nicolas Batum through the draft, signed Andre Miller in free agency and acquired Marcus Camby via trade.

As far as a head coach, Jim O’Brien would be my pick. He has figured out ways to overachieve in the past (think of the 2002 Boston Celtics) by instilling a good (not great) offense but a solid defense that managed to keep his teams in games.

How do the Warriors match-up with the Raptors? What are you expecting to see tonight?
Dunks, lay ups and more dunks. The Raptors allow the most shots directly at the basket in the league while Golden State allows the fourth most; so we should expect to see some highlights in this one. Furthermore, the Warriors 3-point shooting should be a huge factor in this game given the fact that Toronto surrenders 37.3% shooting from deep on the season. If the Warriors settle for outside shots while the Raptors keep getting attempts directly at the rim, expect the Raptors to roll at Oracle Arena.

Mind you, if the Dubs can blend their shooting from deep with their interior scoring, the Raptors might be in trouble. I would have to think that the Dubs should be able to hit shots at home while the Raptors will stay close in this one.

Injury Report

Toronto
Linas Kleiza – Out
Reggie Evans – Day to day
Amir Johnson – Day to day
Joey Dorsey – Day to day

Golden State
Andris Biedrins – Out

Player Report

Jose Calderon
He’s going to get raped by Stephen Curry tonight. Yea, he will get  some of it back, but he wont match Curry’s production (34pts 5rebs 4ast 3stls from the last time they played). In all fairness, Curry did that damage against Jack, but I’m pretty sure it’s safe to predict the same result.

DeMar DeRozan
Ellis has seen a recent dip in his production, 15pts 4.6rebs 5.4ast over the last 5, but the Raptor defense should revive him. He dropped 28 on 59% shooting the last time out, and wont be an easy check. DeMar has size and strength on him, but Ellis is a freak off the dribble, and will prove too much.

James Johnson
Both James Johnson and Dorell Wright escaped a bad situation with the team that drafted them, and have gone on to much better things where they landed on. In Dorell’s case, the improvement has him as one of the favourites to win the Most Improved Player award. Johnson is a better defender, and has more hop to his step, but Dorell will keep him on the perimeter and away from help as much on defense.

Power Forward
Amir starts, Reggie gets more minutes, and Ed throws in his contribution. However, all three stank up the place against the Suns on Wednesday, so I’m lumping them in together now. They got Ekpe Udoh, and we get our first glimpse of the kid against the Raptors. This should be a lame match-up.

Andrea Bargnani
He’s gonna score 30 on Lee; Lee will drop 24, but add 19 rebounds.  I think that about covers it.

The Line

The Warriors are 7 point favourites with an over/under of 215. Like J.M. said above “Dunks, lay ups and more dunks.” Expect an exciting game, but this one smells as though things can get out of hand.

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