OAKLAND Warriors coach Mark Jackson has shown in recentgames hes not afraid to use his second unit to finish out games. In two of thepast three games both against Sacramento Jackson played his substitutes incrunch time.On Monday, Jackson spent the majority of his post-practiceinterview talking about that approach. Heres the interview:Question: Is it possible to get moreintegration between the first team and second team. In other words, is itpossible not to go with either all the starters or all the subs at the end ofgames?Mark Jackson: Not really. The idealsituation is youre giving your starters a breather and youre expecting to goback to them. Towards the end of the third, make a substitution, a couple ofsubstitutions with Ekpe (Udoh) going in and Brandon (Rush) going in (for twostarters). Thats integration as far as Im concerned. Bottom line, once youve got the other three guys out Ultimately, that second unit duplicated what they did in the previous matchup(in a win over Sacramento on Tuesday). They were the better unit.Question: Why couldnt Dorell Wright getback into the game in the fourth quarter and overtime. He looked like he wasplaying well (24 points in 28 minutes)?Mark Jackson: I guess there are differentinterpretations of extremely well. (The Kings) had 34 points in the thirdquarter. I would argue the case that nobody played well. You give up 34 pointsin the third quarter and they dominate on the offensive board, you may besatisfied. It may look good to somebody else, but to me, we lost the gamebecause of turning the ball over, not rebounding the basketball and not gettingback in transition. And giving up 34 points was a huge part of it.Question: Is it possible for your team togive up 34 points in a quarter and one or two players not be on the hook forthat?Mark Jackson: Yes, yes its verypossible. Dorell played extremely well offensively and looked like his oldself so its nothing against him. That second unit -- it would be awfully foolish of me to take any of them outand look to get anything. I knew what I was getting from them. Sacramentoscored 15 points in the fourth quarter.We got back in the ballgame. To me it wouldnt be a smartmove at all putting anybody in the game whether theyre playing great or not.That unit was in sync on both sides. We were scoring and getting stops. Wefound ourselves with the ball, in control down the stretch. So to me that wasthe right way to go.Question: Do you feel it might bebeneficial in the future to get a mixture of starters and bench players?Mark Jackson: That unit has played greatand theyve forced me to stay with them. In an ideal world, Id go back to mystarters. I look forward to the day where my starters are getting it done. I can say to my bench: Youvedone your job, now starters finish them off. My hand has not been forced thusfar.Question: What Im getting at more is acombination of Mark Jackson: I know what youre gettingat. When five guys play to the level that we expect on both sides of thebasketball, then that day will come. But Im not going to throw guys on thecourt because its time for them to go in.No, its time for you to get stops, run back on transition,compete on a level that we talk about competing at. And thats where Im at asa coach. Question: Whats the message you want tosend to the starters?Mark Jackson: Its really not a message.The message is watching. The same team that just scored 34 on you, somehowcant score against the five guys on the floor. I dont have to send a message.And were sugarcoating it if we believe its anything else. Those five guysthat finished the ballgame somehow limited the guys who were dominating us onthe glass, limited the transition points and took care of the basketball andfound a way to score.It would be foolish of me to try to put somebody else in oranother group in to create what I just stumbled into and found.Question: Could there be a message evenif you didnt want to send a message a message to the starters that you dontbelieve in them?Mark Jackson: No. The proof is in thepudding. I believe the game before that I stuck with them. I have confidence inwhoever does what we practice and preach about doing, that the results willcome. Thats where my confidence is. Not the names on the jerseys, not whos,but whoever is doing what we talk about doing. I have confidence that theresults will come and those guys will be on the floor.Question: But isnt the second unit justa better defensive unit than the first unit?Mark Jackson: Heres my question: Are youwatching? And Im not insulting you. Are you watching the energy, the effort,the focus, the attention to detail, the commitment? Are you saying they both goabout it the same way? Therefore I have no choice. Theyre committed (secondunit) and they find a way to play like their lives depended on itQuestion: If both the first unit andsecond unit reach their defensive potentials, I would say the second unit is going to be a better defensiveunit.Mark Jackson: I wouldnt say that. Iunderstand youve got a defensivestopper in Dom (Dominic McGuire). I think hes the lone defensive stopper onthat second unit. If youre talking about Ekpe (Udoh), he was part of the groupthat was dominated by Jason Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins. Somehow those guysunderstand their flaws and they tie into together and buy in as a unit.Question: So, thats what the first unithas to do find a way to be better defensively as a group?Mark Jackson: I think they do it attimes, no question. But weve got to find a way to do it consistently in orderto have the results we want.Question: How can they learn how to do itconsistently if they dont get back into games to get to do it?Mark Jackson: The good news is they havea chance to do it. I dont start the game with the team that ended the game. Sothey have every opportunity to get it done and Ill ride with them forever.Whoever it is. To me, as a coach, the bottom line is getting wins and gettingthe job done. I dont care who does it. Ive got nothing but love for each andevery one of my guys. I love both units. But in fairness to this team, thisorganization and this fan base Ive got to put the guys that are getting afterit on the floor.No matter how it is perceived in terms of talent notmatching up. I know what it takes to win. Somehow going with that group, got usback in the ballgame, put us in a position to win it and sent the game intoovertime with everything go against them to start.Question: Is that battle worth losing thewar over?Mark Jackson: What war?Question: That if youre going to makethe playoffs the starting five is going have to do it. Conventional wisdom isthe five off the bench cant get you to the playoffs.Mark Jackson: Let me tell you something,Im not that guy. Im not going to sit and watch guys go through the motions,guys not execute, guys not battle and just score points and ha-ha,hee-hee.No, the fact of the matter is Im here to win. I know whatwinning basketball looks like and Im not going to have guys out there notdoing what we talked about doing.The proof is in the pudding. We watch film, we talk aboutit. This isnt an individual thing, this is a collective thing. That first unitwasnt getting it done, and theyll be the first to tell you that. And Id be afool as a coach to put them out there just so we can score 105 points and loseand say Yippee, they ended the game. Not going to happen.
And with that, the Golden State Warriors are now just like everybody else.
Let that rattle around your head for awhile. Just. Like. Everybody. Else.
The Warriors haven’t been like everybody else for three years now, but with Kevin Durant’s knee going from worrisome to catastrophic in a matter of hours, they are exactly like everybody else now. They don’t get to walk on a floor and make people look forward to the next game any more.
They are now one of a select number of very good teams, with San Antonio and Houston and Cleveland and Boston and Washington and maybe one or two others. That will last apparently for six to eight weeks, give or take a week for reckless diagnosis or medical setbacks, while Durant heals from his collision with Zaza Pachulia in the second minute of the team’s loss at Washington, and that could mean anything from the end of the regular season to the first and second round of the playoffs.
In other words, it could mean an amazing triumph or a crash-and-burn, or anything inbetween. This is the unknown, right upside the head.
And since it is unlikely that the Warriors will go full fetal, we are about to see the level of their competitive character – in success or failure, in June or May.
We have seen it before, mind you. In 2013, when they broke through the zinc ceiling, we saw how they could play defense after decades of claiming it was against California law. In 2014, when they learned how hard it is to be a good team. In 2015, when they applied it to become one of the best teams in NBA history (because 83 wins in 103 games and a parade don’t lie). In 2016, when they won more regular season games than anyone else and came within five horrific minutes at the end of Game 7 of the Finals to repeating.
All these were lessons learned, good and bad. They deserved what they got, whether it was glory or gall, and they went to school on it all.
So now, without Durant for an undetermined yet worrisome amount of time, they will demonstrate how they apply all this knowledge, and how they learn to do without Durant what they did with him.
Only now they lose the margin of error that Durant gave them. While most of the other contenders shopped earnestly for four months looking to strengthen here and tweak there, the Warriors had a full pantry and didn’t shop at all. Their big acquisition is Matt Barnes, who they frantically signed Tuesday night to replace Durant.
In short, they have a four-game lead on San Antonio for the top seed in the West, but they spotted the field four months of roster improvements.
Now they can ill afford the stretches of shooting misery like the one Stephen Curry is currently enduring. Now they can ill afford Draymond Green speaking his mind so freely to people who take away games. They need health and purpose and an understanding that the turning-it-on-and-off thing they can do is no longer applicable to their situation.
They are not doomed, not by any means. Only a fool would claim otherwise, and fools come shrink-wrapped by the gross at Costco.
But they are now as San Antonio would be without Kawhi Leonard, or Houston without James Harden, or Cleveland without (and we’ll give you your choice here) LeBron James or Kyrie Irving, or Boston without Isaiah Thomas, or Washington without Bradley Beal AND John Wall, though not worse off than Toronto without DeMar DeRozan, since Kyle Lowry is already gone until the playoffs after wrist surgery.
They are Just Like Everybody Else. Well, Everybody Else Who Matters This Time Of Year. There is a parade up for grabs again, and lots of hands are reaching for it – rather than just the two hands we know best.
Programming note: Log on to the CSN Bay Area Facebook page Wednesday morning at 10 a.m when Warriors analyst Kelenna Azubuike joins "Warriors Outsiders" Drew Shiller and Grant Liffmann to bring you the latest on the Kevin Durant injury.
Kevin Durant will be out a minimum of four weeks after sustaining a medial collateral ligament (MCL) sprain and bone bruise in his left knee, the Warriors announced Wednesday morning.
The team’s leading scorer incurred the injury in the opening minute of the Warriors-Wizards game Tuesday night at Verizon Center in Washington.
The extent of the injury was revealed after the All-Star forward underwent an MRI late Tuesday night at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. Though there is no turntable for his return, but Durant is scheduled for reevaluation in the final week of March.
The playoffs begin April 15.
Meanwhile, the Warriors have agreed to sign free agent forward Matt Barnes in hopes of filling some of the void left by Durant’s absence.
The injury occurred 57 seconds into the game, when Wizards center Marcin Gortat grabbed Warriors center Zaza Pachulia and flung him to the floor. As Pachulia stumbled backward, he fell into Durant’s left knee, which was stationary. Durant’s immediate response was to grab his knee and hop away.
Durant continued for another 36 seconds, before signaling to the bench that a timeout was needed. He left the game and did not return.
Durant is the team’s leading scorer, averaging 25.3 points per game. He also leads the team in rebounding at 8.2 per game and blocks at 1.64 per game. Durant’s 53.7-percent field goal shooting ranks 12th in the league, and second among the NBA’s top 40 scorers.