With nothing left to play for, both the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers were running at about eighty percent tonight. It was like a terrible All Star game—all offense, no defense, and an up and down tempo that ultimately led to nowhere. There were uncontested threes, open lanes to the hoop, and players were jacking up shots like they were on the Phoenix Suns circa 2006.
In other words, a game where Jamal Crawford and Nate Robinson could really shine.
“We’ve played against each so many times,” said Crawford of his battles with Nate Robinson, “at this point I know it’s going to be a fun time out there.”
Yep, that’s code for “we both like to shoot contested twenty foot jump shots.”
The half-assed effort makes perfect sense—no reason to risk a serious injury with absolutely nothing on the line. Only bad things can happen at this point. No reason to hustle and put the future at risk.
LaMarcus Aldridge sat because of a hip injury, and while it may turn out to be more serious than expected at this point, rest is still the best course of action this late in the season.
Nicolas Batum returned to the starting lineup, though, injured or not.
“It’s just too tough for me to be out and watch those guys play, ” said Batum. Apparently trainer Jay Jensen encouraged him to sit out another game, but Batum said that if he could run, he was going to play. His spirit is admirable, but sitting out would have been a good move, especially for Batum who is extremely excited for the upcoming Olympics.
As for the Warriors, they are in full on tank mode. Even more than the Blazers. Utah owns their first round pick next year, but that pick is top seven protected. The Warriors are going to have to do a lot more losing between now and the end of the season in hopes of keeping that pick, a goal at which they have been successful, losing nine out of their last eleven after tonight’s contest.
There’s not much to glean from a game like tonight. J.J. Hickson went for twenty-three points and thirteen rebounds. David Lee went for twenty-one points and fourteen rebounds. When left unchecked in the post—hello, defense!—that is exactly what should happen.
Jonny Flynn couldn’t crack the rotation. Hasheem Thabeet played a scant three minutes, missing one of the ugliest hook shots I’ve ever seen, throwing the ball flat and four feet past the hoop. Nolan Smith only played sporadic, inconsequential minutes, unable to make an impact on the floor.
So much for giving the young guys some run.
Luke Babbitt’s defense was glaringly poor in a game that featured no defense at all, which is not a good sign going forward. Unless he can continue to shoot lights out from distance, his playing time is going to stall out at fifteen minutes a game, tops. An okay bench guy, maybe, but he’s got some work to do before falling into a Kyle Korver or Steve Novak role.
It’s just a waiting game until the end of the season. Nothing much else to say at this point, other than the grind is almost over. All eyes to the future.