A place for me to talk about San Francisco Bay Area sports.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Warriors poised for a run? I say yes.

After seeing the results of the Warriors 109-93 win over the Supersonics, it made me realize that the Warriors most probably will go on a nice run now and make the playoffs. I am not a huge basketball fan but as a sports addict, I do follow all sports (I used to watch the bowling shows that played on the weekends and stayed up past midnight for the NBA playoffs when no one cared to watch to the sport), so take my prognostication for what's its worth (that is, not much, that and $3.95 will get you a Venti Mocha Frappaccino at Starbucks).

But the Warriors are not far out of the 8th spot, occupied by Utah, only 1 game out, though with 3 teams to jump over, as New Orleans and Minnesota are tied for 9th as of Thursday, Jan. 19th. And 6th place is only 3 games away. So the Warriors don't have to play that much better in order to get into a playoff spot, there is plenty of time to make up just a few games.

Why Better Now: the French Connection

So why do I think the Warriors will do better going forward? The return of Mickael Pietrus. During all the talk of the Warriors poor play since the beginning of the season, I, and probably many other fans, forgot that an important piece of the Warrior's success at the end of last season was missing in Pietrus. That happens often with fans' interpretation of a season, like with the Giants, for all the carping on how poorly they did, they forgot about all the key injuries hampering their efforts.

The Warriors were 7-5 when Pietrus went out, then 10-13 while he was out, and now 1-1 with his return. Seeing the 19 points in 15 minutes scoring line in the victory over the Supersonics reminded me of how offensively juiced he was and is. His minutes were probably taken by Fisher and Dunleavy, both of whom do not score as well as Pietrus does. Plus it looks like Richardson and Davis are playing a lot more minutes than usual. Adding Pietrus will take a load off those two key players plus take away minutes from two offensively-challenged teammates.

That should allow Richardson and Davis to be better rested and therefore better able to take things over in the critical 4th quarter. Plus the score will be more to the Warriors advantage when the critical 4th quarter starts, because of Pietrus' pressence, making it either easier to overcome the deficit or easier to hold the lead. All this will lead to more wins.

May the Better Team Win

What fans and sportswriters forget is that when the Warriors had that great run last season, they were beating good and bad teams alike. While it is true that some teams early in the start of that run might have taken the Warriors lightly and that some of the winning teams might have been looking forward to playing in the playoffs instead of concentrating on the Warriors, I believe in the competitiveness of the professional players (generally) and no one wants to get beat by a loser team like the Warriors.

So while they may play lacksidaisical for the first quarter or half, at some point they are going to get that kick of adrenaline you get when you realize that, dang it all, we are losing to this lousy team, I'm not going to have that on my team's record. So I still consider their play of last season, while not totally representative of their true abilities and potential, it is still evidence that they can play well enough against the better teams of the NBA to compete for a playoff spot.

Reunited and It Feels So Good

Now that they have all the main cast of characters who led the charge to restoring the Warriors reputation last season, the Warriors should be able to make a run in the rest of the season to make the playoffs. In addition, Diogu has been a good addition to the mix and should only add to their capabilities. That, plus the nearness of the lower tier of playoff spots should equate to making the playoffs this season.

And perhaps they could even entertain thoughts of getting to the middle of the mix as Memphis has the 5th spot and the Clippers have the 6th spot and are only 5 and 3 games ahead of the Warriors, respectively. It won't be easy, but Pietrus will definitely make a huge impact on the team's dynamics and the team should look a lot different going forward. After all, after Baron Davis joined the team mid-last season, the player he took under his wing and had a lot of rapport with was Pietrus and now that he's back in the mix, Baron will probably play better as well, that should be elemental human nature.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

49ers end season 4-12

Mike Nolan, prodigal son of former Niner coach, Dick Nolan, returns to the 49ers as head coach, promising to restore the franchise to respectibility and did an OK job of that. Yes, there were misfires, like the Winborn situation, or the various mistakes in decision making on the sidelines handling timeouts and the like, but the Niners doubled their win output in his first year, which is more than what Bill Walsh could say in his first season at the helm (then again, Walsh didn't get the first pick of the draft in his first go around).

Lots of nice things came out of this season. Alex Smith did horribly, as any rookie QB would be expected to with a talent-deficient team but was starting to figure things out at the end of the season. Frank Gore showed a lot of grit and ability and other draft picks did well too, making a pretty good haul out of Nolan's first year draft. They ended with a two game win streak but had started the season with an encouraging win over the Rams so the fans went through the gamut of feelings and expectations this season. I found myself sucked into his proclamations of making the playoffs that started the season - the NFL has had a number of these total reversals in recent years - so I was not immune to his siren call either.

They still need a lot of talent at numerous positions and a number of key free agents will most probably leave the team but that also means that there is a lot of budget opened up that could be redistributed towards adding talent at key positions as Nolan rebuilds the Niners. Plus the poor record again means the Niners get a high draft pick, 7th, though not high enough to get one of the sure consensus impact picks - Bush, Leinhart, Young - and, ironically enough, the tied the Raiders in record and lost the coin flip so the Raiders will pick 6th. The 49ers look good for the future but there is still more to do. At least Nolan was perceptive enough to realize that he needs an experienced front office guy helping him out. However, York apparently did some things behind his back without, obviously, his knowledge - we'll see how that plays out over time.