The Golden State Warriors won 51 games this season – the franchise’s most since 1991-92 – and yet, there is a strong sense that all is not right in Oakland.
Perhaps that’s because multiple assistant coaches have been fired (Darren Erman) or demoted (Brian Scalabrine) in recent weeks. Perhaps, too, that’s because Mark Jackson – for whatever reason – is supposedly on the coaching hot seat.
As the Warriors enter their first-round playoff series against the Clippers, are the players responding to Jackson’s predicament in a positive way by rallying the troops, or are they simply trying to ignore it and block out the controversy?
“I believe they’re responding to Mark Jackson,” former NBA player and current Phoenix Suns analyst Eddie Johnson said on The Damon Amendolara Show. “And I think it remains to be seen why those coaches were fired. I think sometimes we want stuff to come out right away as to why something happened. I just know that Golden State won 51 games this year – and they did it with injuries. (Andre) Iguodala was out for awhile. Steph (Curry) had a few nicks and bruises. Andrew Bogut missed games. But yet, they were still able to (win 51 games).
“So you can’t frown on what they did or what coaching job Mark Jackson did,” Johnson continued. “I think he’s proven to be a top-notch coach in the NBA. We all need to reserve judgment on why those coaches were fired. I can suspect the other way, too – that maybe something sinister was going on that shouldn’t be going on in terms of being an assistant coach. So we’ll wait and see.”
The Warriors will also have to wait and see about Andrew Bogut, who is out indefinitely with a fractured rib. Bogut led the Warriors in rebounds (10.0 per game) and blocks (1.81) and was the anchor of a team that finished among the top 10 in scoring defense. He was also one of the only low-post offensive threats for Golden State, which must now rely even more on Curry, who led the team in points (24.0), assists (8.5) and steals (1.6), and Klay Thompson, who averaged 18.4 points, 2.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds.
Speaking of Thompson, he ruffled some feathers this week by calling out Blake Griffin for flopping. David Lee got into it with Griffin for that same reason earlier in the year.
All in all, this should make for a riveting first-round series.
“It’s going to be exciting,” Johnson said. “I think it’s going to be fast-paced. These two teams are starting to build a rivalry where they don’t really care for one another. So I see that series being very competitive and having some twists and turns to it. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”