Warriors fans obviously have a long history with Monta Ellis. How is he viewed over there these days and are you surprised at the success he's found in Dallas?
I think you'll always find fans who will swear that trading Monta was and always will be a mistake - he was the bright spot for many fans after the We Believe magic ended so the attachment is understandable. But for the most part, I think most people understand that there was no way for Ellis and Stephen Curry to co-exist and that (a healthy) Bogut is necessary for this team to make a deep playoff run.
To be honest, I accepted that Monta "is what he is" and figured he wouldn't change a few years ago. So yes, I'm just surprised at how efficient he's become even as efficient as he has this season.
How is Golden State's pick-and-roll defense? I imagine Dallas will be running that a lot, particularly to get Andre Iguodala off Monta.
Obviously, many teams will try to target David Lee as a means by which to exploit a well-known defensive weakness. But the Warriors have been a pretty aggressive and consistent "ICE" team since last year and in truly defending P&R's as a team, they've compensated for some of their weaknesses.
Lee is still mistake prone despite some renewed focus on defense this season (half the battle) and some rather impressive numbers as reported by John Shulman of NBA.com the other day. As a unit, where they sometimes struggle is when a team forces them to make an extra rotation after the P&R is completed and, on their unfocused days, that leaves shooters open everywhere. Any team that can spread the floor with shooters as secondary options out of the P&R can be successful against the Warriors simply because they're going to have a lapse at some point.
The Warriors have had a lot of turnover with their second unit this season. How have all the new faces meshed, particularly on the defensive end? The Mavs second unit has been killing teams lately.
Well, the bench has been a source of frustration all season for their offense. Defensively, they've been ok when healthy: Draymond Green's defensive versatility and Jermaine O'Neal's veteran savvy have been huge off the bench this year and give the team some options in terms of adjusting to matchups. But it's really hard to say they've fully meshed right now: they've only had Steve Blake 10 games averaging 20 minutes and O'Neal has been out part of that game.
But do they have promise to gel by playoff time? Absolutely - I'm just hesitant to say much yet and the fact that they've done so much to address the bench struggles already probably answers your question about what the team thinks about the bench.
Going forward, do you think Golden State is more likely to move up into the 4-5 range or slip back into the dogfight for the 7-8 seeds?
I've already braced myself for the dogfight. Call me a pessimist, but until recently I just haven't seen this team play consistently enough to string together quality play consistently. They've won four of their last five though and have done a much better job cutting down some of the careless turnovers, which had been a major problem for them in the early phases of this season. So if they can continue keeping the turnovers down, stay healthy, and win these upcoming games against Dallas, LAC, and Portland they're going to be in great shape. The question is when the lapse will come and it's just hard to predict when this team will have a letdown right now.