Here is a link to my Thursday column about the Warriors-Heat game. The full column appears below:
The Warriors lost to the Miami Heat on Wednesday night 111-110. The loss was too bad for Warriors coach Mark Jackson, who’s on the hot seat. Well, if it’s not the actual hot seat, it’s a warm seat that’s getting hot real fast.
Just the other day, Warriors owner Joe Lacob gave an interview to the San Jose Merc that wasn’t at all complimentary toward Jackson. Forget the impropriety of the owner throwing his coach under the bus, especially a winning coach. Owners usually keep their thoughts about the coach to themselves. And by the way, the general manager — Bob Myers — is supposed to speak for the organization, and now Lacob has elbowed Myers out of the way. But, OK, let’s overlook Lacob’s improprieties. It’s delicious for fans and media to have an owner who can’t shut up.
According to Lacob, the Warriors should be a top-four team in the NBA’s Western Conference, and they’re not even close. According to Lacob, his team has not shown progress from last season. “We have not played as well as we need to play,” he said.
Here are a few more
“The team wasn’t ready” for certain games.
“We’ve squandered some home games.”
“I certainly expect us to be better than last year. We’re roughly the same.”
Lacob was directing this stuff at Jackson. Lacob refused to give Jackson a vote of confidence, said he will reevaluate the coach after this season. That’s why Jackson has ants in his pants these days. That’s why Jackson lashed out at the media after he (Jackson) threw Andrew Bogut under yet another bus, saying Bogut hurt himself sleeping.
There’s a lot of bus throwing on the Warriors.
In the pregame news conference, someone pointed out Lacob had used charged words about the Warriors like “disappointing,” “disturbing,” a “concern.”
To which, Jackson replied, “He didn’t just use ‘disturbing,’ and you said another ‘D’ word.”
“He used ‘good,’ too. You can throw that in there. (That brought a few laughs.) I understand it. He talked about pressure. There’s pressure in my entire life. What’s new to my guys is the expectations. The bar has been raised. It’s a process to learn how to handle that. I think we’re figuring that out. You can’t jump over the process.”
Jackson better learn to jump.
Here’s one more thing Jackson said before the game, and then we’ll do some analysis. “I really like our core guys. I believe, when we’re healthy, you could make the case we’ve got the best starting five in the discussion with anybody in basketball.”
Jackson apparently didn’t understand he was criticizing himself. If the team is tops and the record is not what it’s supposed to be, then the coaching is the issue.
But, yes, the Warriors are a good team, a promising team. They played the world-champion Heat tough. It took a LeBron James’ 27-foot, step-back 3-pointer at the very end to beat the Warriors. But the Warriors lost. And please don’t make an excuse. Don’t say they didn’t have Bogut and that’s why they lost. The Heat didn’t have Dwyane Wade.
The Warriors need to improve things.
They don’t have a proper passing sense. Most of the players want to shoot too much. They are not selfish. But Stephen Curry and David Lee score a little bit too much. In spite of how much Jackson claims he likes his bench, the Warriors’ bench does not have an identity. The Warriors miss Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry more than they understand.
By now, the Warriors should have shown more maturity, unity and toughness. This is on the coach. They should be a good defensive team every night, not just some nights. This is on the coach. Everyone agrees the Warriors have not reached expectations. This is on the coach.
Jackson said he has a great core of players. And he’s right. It’s an elite group. Andre Iguodala, the big offseason acquisition, elevated them from “very good” to elite, gave them the potential to be top-four in the West.
So what’s up with Iguodala? Sometimes you forget he’s even on the court. He sort of goes stealth on everyone. For a dynamic contributor, for a difference-maker, he’s awfully passive.
Here’s the skinny on Iguodala. He plays fundamentally good basketball. He’s off-the-charts smart and he’s talented in basketball basics, stuff many players ignore these days. He is a good ball handler and he passes well. He’s a flat-out great defender. He understands schemes. The Warriors need what he does and that’s why they got him.
His weakness is offensive ego — or his lack of it. He loves to pass more than he loves to shoot. He thinks it’s OK to score 10 points a game. Wednesday, he scored nine points and took only seven shots. Seven shots? He can’t ignore offense. The Warriors need to get him more consistent shots, but Jackson doesn’t give him enough quality opportunities on offense.
Iguodala likes the big spotlight, relishes it. But he does not like to force his personality on the team. He is a paradox. He is self-effacing, especially on the Warriors where he’s still feeling out his teammates. It’s just that the Warriors have played 53 games and the feeling-out period ended long ago.
Final notes: It was a privilege to see James play. He drives the hoop. He shoots 3s. He plays killer defense. Certainly, he goes on the Mt. Rushmore of the NBA. “The guy is the greatest small forward that’s ever played this game,” a stoic, quiet Jackson said after the game. “He’s a complete basketball player with no weaknesses and no flaws.”
After Wednesdays’ loss, the Warriors’ record is 31-22. At this time last season, they were 30-23. That’s progress of sorts.
For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at firstname.lastname@example.org.