Ok, I lied. My flight to Amsterdam is delayed, and I found the time to sit in the airport lounge and run some stats. For the third game in a row, I am unprepared. I have no idea how the Warriors are playing, since I have yet to see a game this season. What is it with the West this year, though? Teams are all over the place when it comes to records. The Warriors come into tonights game with 6 games and 3 losses, their losses coming only to the Lakers, the Jazz and the Hornets. They have beat the Mavs, Pistons, Hornets, Kings, Raptors and the Blazers. They are sporting an offensive rating of 111.30 and a defensive rating of 107.04 leaving little and are sporting a winning record. The whole roster has played this season, and they have 9 players with at least one start. Nellie has taken over and is apparently still tinkering with his rotations. Whatever he is doing, it appears to be working.
The Warriors have six players averaging double figures, and two others close to doing so. Davis is the primary scoring threat in Nellie's offense putting up 22.1 points per game. Will the Sonics ever get to face a team with weak guards? Davis is quick, strong, athletic and fearless. He is just the kind of guard that has given Luke Ridnour trouble in the past due to his size and strength. He can shoot, finish and pass. Jason Richardson is so athletic, and his shot has improved over time...so Ray doesn't have much easy there. Mike Dunleavy simply abused the Sonics last year, but we are likely to see Ellis, Pietrus and Biedrins start the game tonight with Davis and Richardson. Biedrins is on a tear defensively averaging 10 blocks per game and shooting 76% from the field.
It sounds awfully familiar, but the key to this game appears to be slowing down the bigs and trying to simply "contain" or "limit" Davis. This is not a good rebounding team, particularly with Murphy likely out with injury, but when they can keep that rebound margin within 10 rebounds of their opponent they are winning. Their three losses were to teams the really outrebounded them.
I have no real insight here. We need the usual from Ray and Rashard, but we need Luke to continue scoring and we need more offense out of the post. Nick and Chris, do you hear me? Put the ball in the basket, gentlemen. The key will fall back to offensive rebounds, we need the Sonics to get back to leading on the offensive glass and getting lots of second chance opportunities. If the Sonics can get double digits out of both Nick and Chris, then I think they can control the game offensively simply by rebounding at both ends. Nellie likes to run, so the Sonics have the choice of running with him, or trying to slow them down by running a lot of pick and roll in the half court to control the tempo. It will be interesting to see which path Coach Hill and his staff choose to take tonight.