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Warriors get a tune-up meaningless game while waiting for Sunday
Rest the main guys and welcome back Paschall, Gary Payton, and Jordan Bell!
It’s the final countdown! The Golden State Warriors - because of the Byzantine playoff environment - are somehow tight in a playoff race, but also in a place where their second-to-last regular season game is pretty much meaningless.
With the Warriors tied up with the Memphis Grizzlies, and both playing one more game, no matter what happens when the two teams play each other on Sunday, the winner will advance as the eighth seed. In other words, while tomorrow’s games count for one, the direct matchup will shift the win count by two full games as the teams slide in opposite direction - meaning whoever wins that game takes it all, and the loser is sent to the less favorable realm of fighting the winner of the 9/10 matchup for a must-win game to advance into the playoffs as the 8th seed.
So what to do?
It would seem like the Warriors are going to rest everyone today. Well.. as many as they can.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (37-33) vs New Orleans Pelicans (31-39)
WHEN: Friday, May 13th, 2021 // 6:30(ish) pm PST
“We’re not no We Believe 2.0. We’ve got f___ing Steph Curry on our team.”
That was Draymond Green recently. He’s got a history of dropping language that is just as foul as it is accurate. He’s probably out tonight, which is a bummer, but also a testament to his importance. As powerful as Strength in Numbers can be, it simply doesn’t work without the obstreperous offense of Stephen Curry.
After a compressed season, the Warriors will be happy to take a little time to breathe in before Sunday rolls around. This has been a fingertips and prayers sort of year for Golden State, a team that came into the season short handed and watched it get worse throughout the year. Thriving now with a trimmed down rotation, they’ve come on strong enough to at least have a reasonable puncher’s chance in the playoffs - even as the seeding sets them up against the teams with the best records.
But first, they’ve got to get there. A loss on Sunday would a gut punch ending to Golden State’s exciting late season push. Personally, I’ve been accepting moral victories from this team for months, one or two more critical wins gets them firmly into their best available post season position - which brings up the question of how best to prepare for Sunday.
There’s the obvious answer…
But I doubt I’m alone in remember how crucial the Dallas Mavericks scheduled rest was in that final regular season game that launched the We Believe playoff matchup. Curry is chasing a scoring title, and as much as those things don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, I get the sense that the team will be conscious of playing Curry in limited minutes and sabotaging Curry’s pursuit of the scoring title.
If Curry sits and the game doesn’t matter, then it also seems pretty wise to sit Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins as well. But there are some fresh legs inbound, finally.
In addition to Paschall, the open gym run will be a fantastic opportunity for our old friends, Jordan Bell (recently signed to a two-way contract), and Gary Payton jr. (rumored to be headed towards a multi-year deal) could stand to get some extended run to familiarize themselves with the team plays.
[post-publish note: Payton hasn’t yet signed and will not be available tonight]
A moment. Please… A moment, for Juan Toscano-Anderson.
One of the best parts of being a basketball fan is rooting for the marginal guys to make it. Some are easier to root for than others, and some are clearly more cut out for the league (or the Warriors) than others.
Our guy Juanito© is one of those rare gems that ticks all the boxes. His professional career is almost like an extended version of signing a four-year college player. Amongst a team of developing players trying to figure it out, JTA’s play has often felt like the calm steadying hand of a veteran. Because that’s exactly what he is.
At 28 years old, Toscano-Anderson has the self-assured moxie that any NBA has, as well as the heady awareness that endeared players like Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, and even Kevon Looney to the fans. It doesn’t hurt that Toscano-Anderson is a soft spoken kid with hard edges from Oakland and an astute basketball mind.
Whatever the various reasons, this is a great signing not only because of what he is now, but also because of the player that he can become for this team. A team that has made it a part of their brand to emphasize role players alongside their electric main stars. It’s worked, and Toscano-Anderson could be the next step in the process.
"I feel like there's more that I need to do," Toscano-Anderson said. "I need to raise the bar. I always said I wanted to be a guy who establishes himself in this league and is not just here for preseason or a 10-day or a call-up. That's the first step, I've gotten through the first step to put myself in a situation to be here for another year, so now I'm working to continue and have longevity in this league."
What does he do well?
Like a typical “glue guy” JTA is excellent in some aspects of the game, while staying well back out of the limelight in others. Since it seems like he’s going to be here a while, let’s take a look at some specific strengths that define JTA’s game.
JTA is a low-usage, high impact player. Much like Looney, JTA handles the ball seldom, and shoots even less - but when he does either of those, good things happen. According to Cleaning the Glass, his points scored per attempt are in the 95th percentile, and his assist to usage ratio is in the 99th percentile. He’s also having an excellent shooting year, going 34-75 from deep (45%). That outside shooting percentage drops to 41% on basketball reference, which is still good enough to place him second among rotation players, behind only Curry’s 42.1%.
The only real knock against JTA’s game is his self-created shots. So while I am duty bound to relate that he was assisted on 86% of his shots, I’d also point out that that specific weakness is muted alongside Curry and Green - two players that create opportunities aplenty. It’s like Shakespeare said: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
Those cuts and passes and dives and fake handoffs are a big part of what makes the Warriors’ offense work. Sure, it doesn’t happen without Curry, but if the court is full of players that don’t know where to go or what to do, then the chaos is all moot. JTA is the hammer that strikes the opportunities forged by Curry and Green and it all works great together.
Anyways. I’m really glad JTA got paid. I’m happy he’s going to be on the team for a while, and I’m mostly happy we get the privilege of watching these talented ballers hoop.
I’m going to tell myself there’s absolutely no reason to watch this meaningless game, and will watch every second of it, regardless.
That’s right folks, it is time to party!!
Maybe you’re like me and have a birthday tomorrow, maybe not. But no matter who you are, I hope you’ll enjoy this. Here’s one of my favorite Oakland bands, Grumpster: