Whiteside, Vucevic will be tested by Warriors’ small lineup

If you’ve watched the Warriors a lot this season, you know that one of their strengths is to neutralize opposing centers, and it sometimes forces them off the floor.

The Warriors’ small unit – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green – is not only a nightmare to defend, they’re also good enough, strong enough, quick enough and savvy enough to defend you, too. No matter how big or small you are.

The Warriors often thrive when playing against limited big men. If you’re a big man and primarily an offensive player, the Warriors will make you pay in a big way on defense by making you guard on the perimeter. If you’re a big man and you’re limited offensively, you’ll be exposed by the Warriors, allowing them to take their defensive to higher level.

The Warriors will face two interesting young big men in the next two days: Miami’s Hassan Whiteside and Orlando’s Nikola Vucecic. And it’s always fun to watch how young bigs play against Golden State.

 

It will be interesting to see whether either can be effective and impact the game. Or will they prove to be a liability, finding themselves in a  game against the Warriors they don’t quite understand?

Whiteside, a 7-footer, is considered mostly a defensive player. But he was good enough offensively and in other areas to have 25 points and 23 rebounds against Washington, and 19 points and 18 rebounds against Indiana the past two games. Oh, and Whiteside, 26 years old, blocked eight shots in those two games also.

Vucevic, also a 7-footer, is more skilled than Whiteside and it pays off at the offensive end. Vucevic, who is 25 years old, is coming off a career-high 35-point game against Philly on Tuesday. He’s got a wonderful face-up game and is fundamentally sound in the low post.

As good as Whiteside and Vucevic have been this season and recently, each will get a new kind of test in the coming days. They’re going to face a different kind of team in the Warriors, one that scores and defends in confounding ways. If they can figure out a way to be a positive contributor against a team like the Golden State (and cosmetic stats don’t count), they really be onto something in the future.

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About Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz is a veteran San Francisco Bay Area sports journalist. He covered the Golden State Warriors for Bay Area News Group for more than a decade before becoming a television analyst with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Steinmetz currently co-hosts the "Warriors WrapUp" show and "NBA This Week" on 95.7-FM The Game, the franchise's flagship station, in San Francisco. He also co-hosts the Sal and Steiny podcast.
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