May 16, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30, left) and power forward David Lee (10, right) react after game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle ...
May 16, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry (30, left) and power forward David Lee (10, right) react after game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 94-82. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
For the many eliminated playoff teams, the weeks after elimination are a time of regret. With the NBA Draft Lottery looming, 14 teams are hoping for the fortune that eluded them during the regular season, leaving now-eliminated playoff teams to reflect on what could have been. While many Golden State Warriors fans may be looking forward, eagerly waiting to build on this season’s playoff success, some may still be mired in frustration.
Among more enjoyable trends, injuries have been a central theme of this postseason, and as anyone reading this article has heard, the Warriors were not left unscathed. David Lee tore his hip-flexor during Game 1 of the Warriors’ first round series against the Denver Nuggets. Lee was expected to miss the rest of the season, but played limited minutes versus the San Antonio Spurs.
Lee did play a role off the bench, generally as an offensive interlude to begin the second quarter, but was drastically limited in role and effectiveness. Playing almost entirely without their lone all-star, the Warriors lost 4-2, but contended in nearly every game.
The Spurs played consistently excellent defense on Stephen Curry and seemingly benefited from a severe injury to Curry’s ankle. A healthy Lee demands defensive attention that may otherwise have been focused on Curry, and could have helped in freeing him offensively.
The Curry-Lee pick and roll was the staple of the Warriors’ productive regular season offense. Per mysysnergysports.com, 20 percent of the Warriors offense was finished by a pick and roll ball handler or roll man. This would be a significant portion without considering Lee, Curry and other Warriors passing out of the pick and roll to other players after forcing defensive helping help.
So, it stands to reason that adding a fully healthy Lee would have drastically increased the Warriors chance at upsetting San Antonio, right?
May 16, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs power forward Tim Duncan (21) hugs Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee (10) after Spurs win over the Warriors for game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Oracle Arena. The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Golden State Warriors 94-82 to win the series. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Well, maybe not. During the regular season, the healthy David Lee played in all four of the Warriors’ games versus San Antonio, totaling 155 minutes, about 38 minutes per game. Though this is a small sample size, and the playoffs are a different situation, Lee did nothing in these minutes to signify that San Antonio would struggle with him in the playoffs. he Spurs held Lee to a far below average 47.3 percent true shooting percentage, and he was not compensating for this in other areas. He rebounded 17.8 percent of available rebounds, only slightly above his regular season 16.8 percent rebound percentage and his assist percentage dropped from 16.8 percent to 12.1 percent.
Furthermore, Lee’s inefficiency and lack of creation did not come in a decoy role similar to Curry’s post-injury, but at a greater usage than his season average, meaning Lee’s offensive struggles had an increased impact.
With Lee on the court in the regular season versus San Antonio, the Warriors surrendered a respectable 101.1 points per 100 possessions, but only scored 99.6. With Lee off the court, the Warriors allowed only 98.9 points per 100 possessions, and scored 104.6. While these sample sizes, especially the 42 possessions with Lee off the court are too small to be determinant, do not suggest that a healthy Lee would have helped the Warriors.
In the series against San Antonio, the Warriors scored 101.9