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Apr 30 37 tweets 7 min read
On a road trip today but will be tweeting #Warriors #Grizzlies intermittently as I go…

Let’s start with this: This series is for the Western Conference championship. The Suns aren’t in it.
Strong statement? The oddsmakers certainly disagree - theyve installed the Suns as co-favorites with the Warriors in the West.

This line is broken. Set by fan expectations, which have in turn been set by the clueless NBA media. The Suns aren’t in it.
Here’s why: Unlike the Grizzlies, the Suns have two players the Warriors can attack: Ayton and CP.

Ayton will appear to dominate inside, and the commentators will moan and groan about the Warriors not being able to match up.
But we’ve seen this before.

Ayton can’t run with the 5-out Warriors death squad, and he has no more prayer of guarding them in the half-court than Rudy Gobert had against last season’s Clippers.

The Warriors will come for him in the fourth quarter. If not before.
As for CP, he ain’t gonna look like the CP of the last two seasons against the Warriors.

Kerr knows how to defend CP better than anyone in the league - he (or Ron Adams) INVENTED the defense.
Guard with length - Klay in the past, Wiggins now - and chase OVER the pick and defend him from BEHIND.

Enormously effective, Klay took away the over the top pass, and was actually a threat to block his shot from behind.

No reason why Wiggins can’t do the same.
CP will also have issues on defense - Curry would both exhaust and shoot over him, Klay wouldn’t even notice him while shooting.

The likely assignment will be Wiggins, and you can bet Kerr will try to exploit that physically around the basket. At 36, this will take its toll.
I see the suns having exactly the same issues if they meet the grizzlies, who in many ways are the mirror image of the Warriors. Particularly if Booker is still hampered.

Grizz have the personnel to beat them, the question is whether they have the IQ and maturity.
All of this is leading back to my main point about the Grizzlies: How can the Warriors attack them? Who can they exploit?

That’s the problem. The Grizz aren’t the Suns, they are a younger, fitter, faster - and longer - version of the Warriors themselves.
How do the Warriors traditionally create edge against opponents? By getting small, getting out and running, and wearing down bigger slower players in the second half.

Against the Grizzlies? That’s gone. In fact, the Grizz are more likely to do that to the Warriors!
For me the key to the Warriors problems start not with Ja but with Jaren Jackson - he’s the player that unleashes the best version of themselves.

Long but extremely mobile stretch 5, can run the floor with Dray, shoot the 3, defend inside and out, great shotblocker.
How do Loon and Beli stay on the floor against JJ? They can’t run with him, can’t guard him.

What about Dray then? Can he guard JJ at the 3 pt line without the Warriors D collapsing? Without freeing Brandon Clarke to rampage on the offensive glass?

And can Dray play all 48?
I see Kuminga getting major play in this series, by necessity. And that brings its own problems.

And I see the Warriors being forced into a zone to keep their bigs near the rim contain JJ and Clarke.

And Ja. This will be a box and 1 series - which I’ll get to.
Brandon Clarke presents his own problems. 6-8 with the mobility of a guard, extremely strong and relentless rebounder - 11 and 15 in the last 2 games.

Who draws the assignment? Dray will presumably have his hands full with JJ.
Wiggins has been distinctly mediocre at smallball 4. He hates contact - Clarke would eat him alive.

But also I see Wiggins as the defensive point of the spear - the And One assigned to Ja in the Warriors zone.

So who draws Clarke?
Against Denver Klay was the 4 of the small unit. And came up with 9 rbs in the last game. Can Klay handle Clarke?

Oh boy. Talk about a battle royale, with outcome uncertain and risk of exhaustion, foul trouble and injury high…
So Iggy? I have a chronic neck injury from high school wrestling, and I just reinjured it thinking about it.

So it’s Kuminga, right? Clueless and yanked in his last stint but he’s ready for this moment, right?

I’ll say this about JK: I saw him go mano a mano with LeBron so he’s got all the tools and the heart to battle Clarke. It’s just the other little things - like playing basketball - that we’re unsure of.

What better time to find out!
The battle for the boards will be critical in this series. Pressure on the offensive boards is the best defense against a smallball running team.

And it’s pretty clear to me that the Warriors are going to lose this battle.
I’m only half way done describing the danger JJ and Clarke represent to the Warriors. These highly mobile forwards spearhead one of the strongest and most versatile defenses in the league.

A defense that did to the Wolves in the 4th Q what the Warriors did to the Nuggets.
Either one of JJ or Clarke can blitz Curry and recover. Track him on the dribble. And challenge him at the rim.

As for what they’ll do to Poole… his drives were a key part of his game against the Nuggets. Will that continue?
I’ll put it this way: I put the over/under on number of times JJ blocks a Poole layup attempt in this series at 8.

And that’s only part of the problem facing Poole.
I restrained myself from commenting on the Poole Party that broke out in the first 3 games of the Denver series. Fun to watch him cook but I feared it wasn’t real.

And by the evidence of the next 2 games, it wasn’t.
A couple of simple Denver adjustments- guarding Poole with playoff length, and painting a target on his back defensively - turned off the music.

That was Denver - not a great defensive club by a long shot. Things are about to get much more real.
Now Poole is going to be looking at Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks - two ultra-tough defenders with playoff length, backstopped by JJ and Clarke.

And on the other end, shooting over him and powering through him.

Who on the Grizz can Poole guard?
I’m having trouble even seeing a way for Kerr to play the Curry - Poole backcourt against the Grizz. How do you hide both of them on defense against this team? How can you play both and keep the Grizz off the offensive glass?
I’m even having trouble seeing how the Warriors can play the unit that closed out Denver - with GPII - and keep the Grizz off the offensive glass. That’s how tough this team is, and how many problems they present.
For as long as Poole has been in the league I’ve been voicing my doubts that he can be a playoff two guard. Too small. Not defense first. Doesn’t fit the championship mold.

And getting killed for it.
At the same time, I’ve been voicing my growing admiration for him as a lead guard and a playmaker - a sixth man with a higher ceiling than Bradley Beale.

And having that opinion ignored.
This series is the crucible in which playoff Poole will be truly put to the test. We’ll find out whether I’m right or wrong.

If I’m right, he’ll play point guard.

Behind Curry.

And sit in crunchtime.
You’ll notice I’ve saved Ja for last. Not a big fan. He’s basically a young Westbrook on offense. Rocket speed, great at getting to the rim, poor shooter, poor vision and pg skills, vainglorious and selfish in crunchtime.

Non-existent on defense.
It’s not meaningless that the Grizz have a better record without Ja than with.

Nonetheless he presents the Warriors several challenges:

1) No one other than GPII can guard him at the point of attack. Another reason this will be a box and one series.
2) Speed of play. If the Warriors shoot poorly or fail to offensive rebound Ja will run it down their throat.

3) Foul trouble. Ja is relentless in attacking the basket, which will place Dray under an even greater threat of foul trouble. And no Dray, no win.
One last item on the Grizzlies side of the ledger:

Injuries frequently decide playoff matchups. Which one of these two teams is more likely to suffer an injury?

We all know the answer, we’ve all lived thru it. Say no more.
That’s all the bad news. So do I think the Warriors are actually dogs in this series they’re favored to win?

No. I think it will be tougher than many think, but no. Here’s why:

1) Warriors have not only the 3 best players in this series, but 3 of the top 50 in NBA history.
2) The Warriors have the best coach. A brilliant and dynamic playoff tactician. With 8 rings.

3) The Warriors are the highest IQ team in NBA history, with 3 titles under their belt. The Grizz?

4) The Warriors have Stephen Curry. Am I repeating myself?
I don’t yet have a clear picture of how the Warriors win this series, but to quote Shakespeare in Love, I’m confident it will all turn out well.


I don’t know, it’s a mystery.

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More from @feltbot

Dec 22, 2020
Reasons why the Warriors will have a surprisingly good regular season in 3, 2, 1...
The defense has reached singularity.

I believe in tipping points with defense, the number of great defenders necessary to make the whole team start trying on the defense.
Too few defenders on a team and even the great defenders stop trying. You see it all the time. Take the case of Dray last season. He couldn’t hide his disgust at playing with DAR and no center. What was the point of trying?

Im wagering the same will prove true of Wiggins.
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