I'm not a big Golden State fan. I don't think their fans are die-hard. I don't think their franchise deserves the hype that it has received over the past two decades. They are a young team with a new head coach. They aren’t the same ‘dubs’ that we’d systematically ‘drub’ in previous games. By the same token, we aren’t the same ‘jazz’ that they did not stand a chance against. We’re getting better, but we’re not *there* yet. Golden State is 3-1 right now with wins over the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, and mighty
Vancouver Memphis Grizzlies. They are second in the entire NBA in points per game, at a whopping 109.8. Their point differential is a whopping +1.0 points per game, though. Golden State plays an uptempo game bereft of anything a playoff team would call "defense".
An astute basketball observer even said this yesterday:
To be fair, our point differential is +0.0, so, there’s that. For more things to look at, click on below . . .
Which Jazz team will show up?
Over the first two games of the season the Jazz averaged 91 points per game. Over the last two games the Jazz averaged 122.5 points per game. Against these Warriors it is prudent to exploit their lack of interior defense. Yes, Biedrins blocks one shot a game, but it’s not like the Warriors are the Celtics or Lakers in the paint. They aren’t. And they know it, too. The tag-team of David Lee and Andris Biedrins are very solid on the glass (combined 18.5 rpg so far this season). That said, no one fears them – for good reason. The Jazz should attempt to go inside out in this game. I, for one, am wary of our recent trend of solid outside shooting. We shouldn’t come to rely upon it for wins, especially against teams that are relatively soft inside. Of course the tempo is going to be fast, especially since Jerry would rather go small than dictate the size and pace of the game. Even if Fesenko is healthy enough to play, don’t expect to see much of him, or Elson, unless something crazy happens. (Yes, we all wanted to see the Francisco Elson vs. Dan Gadzuric grudge match for Dutch supremacy) Golden State plays a legion of swingmen.
I want to see the Jazz team that works for the extra pass, and gets good looks. I haven’t watched Golden State this season so far, so I have no idea what kind of defense Keith Smart is rocking. I can only imagine that their main advantage they’ll press will be their tempo and small ball line-ups.
Monta Ellis is going bonkers right now. He’s shooting 55 fg%; gets to the line 8 times a game; and fills up the stat sheet with 4 boards, 6 assists, and 2 steals. Oh yeah, he’s also averaging 30 points a game. He makes Stephen Curry’s 20 and 9 look small, and makes David Lee’s double double look nearly useless. The only way to stop him may be to give him a moped. It’s not just Ellis that the Jazz will have trouble matching up with. Six out of the 10 most used guys on their team (as seen by their MPG averages) are either SGs or SFs. This number goes up to 7 if you include Curry in that group (he can play SG as well). Let’s not forget that the Jazz have FOUR total swing guys (Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko, C.J. Miles, and Gordon Hayward). The Jazz crew will always be facing someone on the other team who is fresh and rested. We’re going to see a lot of Ronnie Price (at the 2) and Earl Watson in this game (as Deron plays the 2 at times).
On the flipside, their "big" rotation is Lee (31.5 mpg), Biedrins (25.0 mpg), Brandan Wright (14.0 mpg), and Vladimir Radmanovic (12.8 mpg). Lou Amundson and rookie Ekpe Udoh are both out. Have you seen what our bigs are getting? Here’s how we play: Al Jefferson (37.3 mpg), Paul Millsap (34.5 mpg), Andrei Kirilenko (29.0 mpg), and Francisco Fesenko plays 16.0 mpg.
Something has to give, and I think Jerry will go small (as I stated earlier). Things will be fine when Lee and Biedrins are in the game at the same time. That’s not going to be all game long though. Millsap is going to have to guard guys way faster than him in this game. Alternatively, this would be a GREAT time to dust off AK and put him in as a power forward. He’s built for the up and down game where he protects the paint from driving shooting guards. Don’t believe me? Here's the abuse that he brings to Golden State over his career: Reg seas and Playoffs.
The Deep Ball:
You know how there’s some no-name guy who always kills us? Dorell Wright is AVERAGING 4.5 made threes a game right now (54.5 3pt%). Curry, Ellis, and Reggie Williams are all averaged more than one made three a game as well. All of them are shooting in the +40.0% range from deep. Vlad-Rad, Charlie Bell, and Rodney Carney are all also solid from deep. We’re hot right now from deep, but it’s only really the stellar shooting of C.J. Miles that’s keeping us in it. Raja, Deron, and AK have been solid. We can’t keep up with them from outside. Obviously, we have to do our dirty work inside the paint – or find a way to defend their shooters WHILE arresting Curry’s drives.
Well, there’s that option, but you know we’d never go for it . . .
Injuries the difference?
. . . especially since, according to Golden State of Mind, Curry is out. So, well, that makes the game that much more interesting / desperate for one team. Though, the Jazz shouldn't slack off -- we're only a .500 team right now, and every win counts for as much now as they do after the all-star break.
You know, the product of the coveted and much protected Knicks Lotto pick ('the precious' if you will), Gordon Hayward, right? He's that kid from Butler who could do no wrong? He's shooting 37.4 fg% right now, has zero assists, and has made as many threes for the Jazz this season as I have. I love this kid. He'll be fine in the future. That said, today's crazy "6'8 and under only" type of game would be a great time to show up. Let's show up in the present too.