By now it’s been well documented on here and in other corners of the Internet that the Basketball Gods are evil, stupid, no-good, demons who ruin series by injuring the best parts of that series. And they did just that in Game 1, with the Warriors’ David Lee tearing his hip flexor on, what appeared to be, a normal pick-and-roll.
While that injury is sickening and tough to swallow, the Warriors still have a series to play and still believe they are the ones who should be moving on to the second round. Injuries allow for adjustments, and with Nuggets’ forward Kenneth Faried returning from an ankle sprain, Game 2 should look a lot different than Game 1.
Having Faried will help the Nuggets on the boards tremendously. The Nuggets were out-rebounded 55-to-45 in Game 1 — a stat that must drive George Karl crazy. Faried is a(n)
animal, scratch that, Manimal on the boards and his presence will immediately help Denver on the glass.
I wrote this yesterday:
In their regular season series against Denver, the Warriors scored 94.9 points per 100 possessions with Faried on the court and grabbed just 19.5 percent of their missed opportunities, a full six percent lower than their season average. With Faried on the Nuggets’ bench, the Warriors’ offensive rating jumped up to 111.9 and their offensive rebounding rate climbed to 28.9 percent.
I understand the sample size is small — Faried spent 147 minutes on the floor and 55 minutes on the bench against the Warriors in the regular season — but the numbers are very telling. The Denver Nuggets are better when Faried is on the floor, wreaking havoc on the boards and beating his man down the court for easy transition buckets. With Lee out, Faried’s opportunity to do damage grows even more. In 19 minutes with Lee on the bench in the regular season, Faried’s per 36 minute rebounding number jumped from 11.9 to 15.2, per NBA.com.
Lee’s likely replacement, Carl Landry, also struggled in his match up against Faried during the regular season. His per 36 minute rebounding rate dropped from 9.4 to 7.7 and his field goal percentage dipped from 53 percent to 44 percent while Faried was on the floor. Likewise, Faried’s shooting percentage with Landry on the floor increased dramatically. Faried finished 9-of-12 shots in the restricted area and went 3-of-3 from the paint, with Landry on the floor, per NBA.com
Again, these numbers come in small sample sizes and don’t account for who was actually guarding who, but they are worth noting. The numbers would suggest that Faried succeeds when Lee is out and excelled with Landry on the floor. Again, take it for what it’s worth, but the Lee injury, however cruel it may be, will hurt the Warriors especially with Faried returning to the Nuggets lineup.
An interesting situation that arises out of the injury is who Warriors’ head coach Mark Jackson chooses to use in his replacement minutes. Carl Landry will start in the place of Lee. I suspect Draymond Green will slide to the four-spot for stretches and the Warriors will choose to play smaller to match up with the Nuggets team speed. NBA.com’s Chris Marlowe wrote that veteran Richard Jefferson could take some minutes in Lee’s absence.
I’m not sure exactly what Jefferson could bring to the plate for the Warriors. His most athletic years are far behind him and he’s struggled this year, in limited minutes, to knock 3-pointers down at the rate he once did. But Jefferson did play in an NBA Finals twice with the (then) New Jersey Nets and brings experience to the table. If they play him at the power forward spot when Faried is on the floor, he’ll get destroyed on the boards. But if they play him there when Wilson Chandler slides down to the 4-spot then he shouldn’t have a problem on the glass. I doubt Jackson chooses to use Jefferson much, if at all, but he does give him another option and additional depth.
Game 2 will air Tuesday night at 10:30 ET on TNT.
Thanks for reading and follow me on Twitter @lashy.