Golden State Warriors star, Stephen Curry is doing everything you could want. He’s averaging He’s averaging 27.7 efficient points, 6.1 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game – in spite of the tremendous defensive attention he garners every single game. To date, Curry has scored nearly a quarter of the Warriors’ total points – 554 of the team’s 2,248 points (which works out to 24.6% ).
Supported by Draymond Green’s all around game, and the emergence of Andrew “Two-way” Wiggins, Golden State has stabilized from a rough start to solidify themselves as a team firmly entrenched in the hunt for a playoff spot. While there’s plenty of room for improvement, by beating the teams they are supposed to beat, the Warriors seem to have established a floor.
The next step is to start beating playoff teams – teams like the Boston Celtics, for example!
Though the Warriors will get a bit of help tonight against the Celtics, who will be playing without defensive ace Marcus Smart (calf strain), the story coming into tonight’s game will be the absence of rookie sensation, James Wiseman.
WHO: Golden State Warriors (11-9) vs Boston Celtics (10-8)
WHEN: Tuesday, February 2nd, 2021 // 7:00 pm PST
No Wiseman, no problem…?
Missing Wiseman for an extended period is not ideal. Much of this season’s purpose revolves around developing the 19-year old, and according to the Warriors, he’s out for at least a week, if not more.
The injury, sustained in the win against Detroit, appears to be associated with this fall:
Here is the play where James Wiseman sprained his left wrist. Bumped off balance on an alley oop finish, fell hard on it.
Without Wiseman this season, the Warriors have been better, in general; but like many parts of basketball, it’s not that simple. Sure, the Warriors’ starting unit got outscored by 73 points in its 161 minutes together with Wiseman through the season’s first 16 games, but Wiseman’s improvement and areas of strength are still going mean that the Warriors will miss him. The fact that I ended the header with a question mark (and I meant it) reflects the rookie’s astronomical potential and growth curve.
On offense is where the gap is most pronounced: the Warriors offensive rating (a measure of points scored per 100 possessions) is 112.9 without Wiseman on the court, and drops to 104 with him. Defensively, the gap is much narrower, with opponents clocking in at 108.9 without Wiseman, and 110.5 with him on court.
But there are a couple of caveats to keep in mind here.
Firstly, those stats above are compiled since the beginning of the season, and the early games in a rookie’s career are like dog years for the development of a player that Draymond Green recently called a stud. Wiseman has been looking fantastic off the bench, and that Green quote came after the rookie blew the doors of the Timberwolves, pouring in a career-high 25 points in 24 minutes off the bench. The fact that there’s a legitimate question if the Warriors are indeed better or not with Wiseman on the bench is testament to his growth.
According to basketball reference, the Warriors team ranks 26th in defensive rebounding rate, and 27th in offensive rebounding. It’s a known problem. It’s also one of Wiseman’s strongest points: the team is plus 1.5 on defensive rebounding with Wiseman, and a plus 4.8 on block percentage. The Warriors are going to miss the rim deterrent, especially against Boston, a team that ranks 6th in offensive rebounding.
Being big helps a ton in this regard, and the Warriors don’t really have any other big guys. With Marquese Chriss and Alen Smailagić both injured, starting center Kevon Looney (listed at 6’9”) is the tallest available Golden State player
Looking at the Warriors upcoming schedule Wiseman’s timetable has him out through at least the Spurs game, but it could be longer; remember the announcement from Golden State says that Wiseman will be “re-evaluated in 7-10 days,” so the actual return date for Wiseman could well extend beyond this initial time range.
Getting to know the Celtics
Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the main guys that will be the most visibly impactful, but the Boston Celtics are a deep, and well-coached team. Missing Marcus Smart will hurt them quite a bit, but on paper, Boston should still be a tough matchup for the Warriors.
Aside from Tatum and Brown, there are a few “double-edged sword”-type players that could help or hurt their squad, depending on the night. Kemba Walker, the Celtics high profile acquisition last season has been up and down. Dealing with some knee issues, and never being known as an especially stout defender, Walker is probably the biggest x-factor in tonight’s game. Like old Warriors favorite, Monta Ellis, Walker is extremely adept at getting shots, but unfortunately, far less adept at getting those shots to go in. Walker is putting up an average of 13.8 shots per game, but shooting 37% overall, and just 29% from behind the arc.
The Celtics are also the most recent franchise to fall prey to whatever foul magic Jeff Teague keeps working. The 3-and-not-D expert is logging around 18 minutes per night for them, and should offer a nice soft defensive target for the Warriors bench to attack with Eric Paschall isolations, assuming they can pry Daniel Theis off somehow.
This is going to be a tough game, but one that I feel good about. Golden State is well aware of their subpar showing against teams with winning records, and the Celtics marginal play combined with the absence of Smart gives the Warriors a bump.
Between injuries, and assigning players to the G League, the Warriors active roster for tonight is down to just 11 players, but even with a skeleton crew, the Warriors may be more like Skeletor. With Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, and Paschall serving as the frontline rotation, the Warriors will be ok up front – especially because it may free up some minutes for Juan Toscano-Anderson.
Warriors win a defensive showcase, 105-101.