This is one of those nights that I'm glad I have NBA League pass and that the Warriors play at 10:30. With any trade I find it interesting to see how the players the Pacers traded away fit in. After a few games my interest will wane, but for right now it is facinating.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
For the new players the Warriors will trot out tonight, their shoes are likely to get more breaking-in than the guys wearing them.
There will be no gradual easing-in of the ex-Pacers now that they are Warriors. No dipping their toes in the pool to see if the water is to their liking. In Don Nelson's world, it's either sink or swim, baby.
"We got them to be starters and by God, I'm going to do it,'' Nelson said Friday after Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Josh Powell went through their first practice as Warriors, an enervating session that stretched beyond two hours.
"We're not going to fool around.''
That means Jackson and Harrington will be in the starting lineup tonight in Oakland with Baron Davis, Mickael Pietrus and Andris Biedrins as Golden State marks the halfway point of the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Jackson will run with Davis in the backcourt while Harrington slides into the power forward spot. Pietrus and Jackson will probably alternate trying to keep LeBron James from being LeBron James.
"The lads are in good shape and they're ready to play,'' Nelson said. "It's very difficult when you make a major trade to get everyone on the same page. I'm a little worried how they'll do ... We have to be careful not to give everybody too much for the first three-four weeks and gradually add some things. Right now I want them to play not thinking about 100 little things.''
Jasikevicius and Powell will take their place on a Warriors bench that is now longer and deeper. Monta Ellis, Matt Barnes and Kelenna Azubuike will join Nelson's rotation and get their minutes off the bench instead of starting.
"All of a sudden we have a very deep team,'' Nelson said. "As long as we stay healthy, nobody should be overplayed at this point. I'm going to lengthen the roster and play more guys. I'm not going to play 12 guys but I'll probably play 10.''
Nelson's holdover players seemed energized by the additions of Jackson and Harrington, a trade-up in terms of athletic ability over Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy.
"It's a huge trade for us,'' said guard Jason Richardson, going through the drudgery of rehab while his broken hand heals. "We've got two guys in Jackson and Harrington that are capable of doing so many things in this style of offense. It's a good trade for us ... It's going to be exciting. I want to get this cast off.''
Pietrus is expected back tonight from an ankle injury -- just in time to play a little defense against one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league in James.
"He's one of the most powerful players I've played against,'' Pietrus said. "I'm going to try to minimize his touches. I'll be happy to play against him.''
Of his remade team, Pietrus said, "We are going to be a tough team to beat. Now we have a lot of guys who can play. I'm very excited about that. Everybody is excited. It should be a good thing for everyone.''
Friday's practice at the Warriors' facility in downtown Oakland was longer than recent sessions and served as an introduction for Jackson and Harrington to Nelson's up-tempo offense. They will get their run on in Oakland.
"We definitely play a faster pace,'' Barnes said. "That's something they have to adjust to. They're not used to all this running and open shots. I've never met a player who didn't want to shoot. I think they'll be fine.''