Mike Fratello Previews Mavs-Warriors
Posted Nov 7 2007 5:22PM
November 8, 2007 -- When the 42-40 Warriors defeated the 67-15 Mavericks in the First Round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs, it was one of the biggest upsets in postseason history. A team that had cruised through the regular season was unceremonious knocked out before anyone could have expected.
On Thursday, the Mavs and Warriors will meet at Oracle Arena in Oakland for the first time since last May. The game will be televised on TNT at 10:30 p.m. ET. Calling the game will be Marv Albert, Mike Fratello, Reggie Miller and Cheryl Miller. In anticipation of the rematch, we spoke to Fratello about the Mavs and the Warriors.
Why are the Warriors such a bad matchup for the Mavs?
Then, in turn, the defense would collapse to help out. They would kick out and shoot threes. So the threat of dribble penetration would lead to three point shots. And then their ability to get out in the open court and take this athletic talent that they had and make you pay in transition led to a very high number of points.
What can the Mavs do differently this time around?
If you don't think that is the way to do it, then you have to size down and decide, is my small team better than their small team? Now if their small team athletes are quicker, faster, run and jump higher, shoot better than your small team, then you have a problem. That is the decision a coach is left with. That is why it was interesting.
People were waiting to see what Avery Johnson was going to do in Game 1, go with the same team that got them to 67 wins last year or was he going to make some adjustments? He made some adjustments early on and that began the chess match. That leads to all the second guessing, because if you stay the same way you will have X number of people that believe you should stay the same way and go with the same team that got you the 67 wins, and then you make adjustments afterwards.
Others will say if you lose the first game, and you went with your regular team, you gave up the first game because you were too stubborn. You wouldn't adjust to what you should have adjusted to, which was to go smaller. So you are kind of caught in a tough situation there. Now when you play in the games, you look and say what combinations could we possibly play with? There was no time I don't think any person on this earth felt that Don Nelson was going to try and go with a big lineup. Nellie wasn't going to change anything for them. The Warriors were who they were, and that is a small fast team, which was there best team.
Dallas can play so many different ways, because of the depth that they have and the roster they have, it was a decision of how do we play to best match up with Golden State. And believe me, it wasn't just Dallas. I had talked to two other coaches in the Western Conference who were in the playoffs and neither one of them wanted to wind up with Golden State last year. They all feared winding up with Golden State as a matchup because of how well they were playing and because of the matchup problems that they play.
Is Avery Johnson the type of coach that circles a game like this on his calendar?
Remember when you live with that you have to live with that not only through the summer, but you have live with it through the exhibition season, through the regular season and you have to earn another trip back to the playoffs just to get a chance to show in the playoffs that you are better than what happened the year before. So this Dallas team is going to play this year with more of a purpose, a chip on its shoulder and when this team's name comes up, they know what this team is capable of. They went through the pain and suffering understanding that.
Dallas has been without Devin Harris the last couple of games. He says he is going to try and play on Thursday. Is important to have him back Thursday for this game to help match Golden State's athleticism?
If Harris is healthy they may elect to put Harris on someone else besides Baron Davis. There are other teams that have crossed matchups with the feeling that Baron Davis is too strong for the smaller guard. He backs them down or goes down in the low post area. Then you have to double-team him and you give up the three point line as opposed to maybe playing a two guard on him or a small forward on him if you have the ability to do that. It depends what your roster is like but that is another thought, cross matching and playing a bigger stronger guy on him because Baron is so strong.
So far, Golden State is 0-3 and they are the worst defensive team in the league. Is that just because of their lack of size? Do you think they miss a presence down low?
Are the Warriors missing Jason Richardson right now? Should we be second-guessing that trade?
When you look at it you are losing a guy who has the strength to post up. He is obviously very athletic. He can score in flurries. Maybe, they liked the way Monta Ellis had developed. You are going to have Ellis and Davis on the floor. Maybe they felt that they couldn't keep everybody happy time-wise. You give up an experienced player to get a young prospect (Brandan Wright) that you feel is going to be terrific down the road.
It could also be that Nellie and Mully sat down and said that this thing that happened last year was an aberration because you are not going to win all the time with that. Eventually you come up against a team like San Antonio. What we need to do is maybe take a year and get us heading in the direction of a more conventional type roster. That is maybe why they bite the bullet for a little bit and say we really think this kid Wright is going to be terrific down the road, he is going to be a great small forward in the NBA, a Tayshaun Prince type. So let's do it, let's go grab this guy. He may not be ready to play next year, let's grab him now. To get him, we are going to have to give up a veteran guy in Jason, but let's do it now rather than later where we miss this opportunity and make our move back towards a more traditional type team.
They also have Kelenna Azubuike, whose minutes have gone up a lot.