NBA Regular Season: Golden State Warriors (18-10) at Utah Jazz (15-14) -- Game Preview

Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Game #30 • EnergySolutions Arena • Salt Lake City, UT • December 26, 2012 • 7:00 p.m. (MT) • TV: ROOT Sports • RADIO: 1280 AM/97.5 FM and 1600 AM ESPN Deportes

NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 30:

Golden State Warriors (18-10) at Utah Jazz (15-14)

#GSWatUTA Game Stream -- Golden State Of Mind -- Warriors vs Jazz coverage

"[Thompson] is either smoking it, or a drug dealer . . . an automatic red flag for any team investing millions on a draftee." Never Forget. (This link presented for the sake of laughing at ourselves, not as a serious commentary)

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The Basics:

This is the first game after Christmas for both teams. Taking stock of where these teams are is an eye opening experience. The Warriors are the #5 team in the west, and we're the #9 team. They're getting it done with a #9th rated offense and #14th rated defense and nearly have the same winning percentage on the road as they do at home. We're a #10th rated offense, but dreadful #24th rated team on defense. We remain a superb team at home with a 9-2 record; however, we're not very balanced. One little miss step here or there will have us tumbling down at the end of games it seems. Or more realistically, one bad step at the beginning of games will have us fighting hard to get back into games -- even at home.

The Warriors are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and playing their first game after a long three night break. Their last game was an overtime loss at home to the resurgent Los Angeles Lakers. Tonight is the first game in a three games in four nights set for Golden State to finish off 2012. We're 6-4 in our last 10, and we've only had 2 nights off. The Jazz have a night off after tonight to play the Los Angeles Clippers (at home, then another night off, then on the road) to finish up 2012. Both teams should be well rested, and for the most part, healthy.

Golden State has been a handful on the road, winning 62.5% of their games outside of The Oracle. We're winning 81.8% of our home games. Somethings gotta give.

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History:

These two teams have played a lot over the years, with the Jazz holding a commanding 100-59 all-time overall advantage in the regular season games. The Jazz are an even more impressive 63-16 when playing at home, here in Utah. Last season we won 3 of 4 against them -- but to be fair -- they were tanking outright in at least 2 of those games. And still took us to overtime in one of those 2. They're better this year for sure and will be a handful. We already know this as they spanked us in the preseason. We play them three times this season, twice a home.

In a tough Western Conference we gotta make these count.

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Scouting, Stats, and Stereotypes:

I. AM. STILL. TAKING. IT. EASY. ON. THESE. UNTIL. THE. NEW. YEAR.

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Injury Report:

Warriors Injuries --

  • Andrew Bogut (C) OUT -- Bogut is still recovering from a sore left ankle and is out indefinitely. He has played in four games this year, and a grand total of 73 minutes. In his absence the Warriors will continue to play Festus Ezeli and Andris Biedrins for when they're not going small.
  • Brandon Rush (SG/SF) OUT -- Rush is going to miss the rest of the season with left knee surgery. That totally sucks because he's still a relatively young player, but only got to play 2 games this year (25 total minutes).

Jazz Injuries --

  • Mo Williams (PG) OUT -- Mo Williams has a sprained right thumb and is out indefinitely. He injured himself against the Miami Heat and had to leave the game after playing only 16 minutes. He's kind of a big deal for us this year, but we have a lot of experience at the PG spot behind him. Jamaal Tinsley will get the start.
  • Raja Bell (SG) OUT -- Raja is off right now to document the melancholy of winter in free verse prose. Such is the heart of an devotee of the arts.

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Advantage --

Seriously guys, the Warriors are the #5 team in the Western Conference right now without Bogut or Rush. Those two guys would start on our team. I'd say that talent wise who they are missing is more than who we are missing; but who is missing for us is a bigger problem. We don't have 15 wins without Mo Williams. We're a sub .500 team without him. I'd give the advantage to the Warriors here, despite having less people available.

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The Game:

Golden State is a much more improved defensive club and they really take care of their boards. We live on the offensive glass. While both teams boast a number of capable (or outstanding) three point shooters -- this game is going to be won or lost in the paint. It's not like we're playing Tyson Chandler inside. We're not even playing Andrew Bogut tonight. If Big Al is really a $15 million dollar man / first option -- it would be nice to see it tonight. He has to be our focus on offense, and he has to pay off when we call his number. There should be no excuses here. He's the best Big on the floor tonight. He should show it. If he can, this becomes a much easier game for the Jazz.

Defensively we're going to have lots of problems because Golden State really spreads the sugar and they have so many weapons. Klay Thompson averages 7.1 three point attempts per game, and Stephen Curry follows en suite with 6.8. Even when they miss they create long rebounds -- and it's those long ones that we have trouble gobbling up.

Owning the paint. Rebounds. Threes. Anything else? Oh yeah, please let's try not to get out-coached by Mark Jackson . . .

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Player Focus:

Paul Millsap, it seems like it at least, gets eaten up by David Lee. The evidence seems to agree with the eyeball here. In their last three games, Lee has gotten 23 points and 14 boards, 18 points and 7 boards, and 26 points and 12 boards. Their last match up would have been called by the ref early if it was a boxing match. Millsap probably knows this too. Lee is taller than him. A little bit more athletic. And somehow gets his goat. Millsap doesn't have the same problem against a LaMarcus Aldridge type player (much longer and taller), but Lee has a similar type of game to Blake Griffin -- and some of the same dimensions. That seems to be the only type of player Sap has problems with, as he can handle people from Paul Pierce to Pau Gasol with regularity.

With Mo Williams out tonight more of the responsibility will fall on Millsap to step up and be our 2nd best player. Which is funny in itself because many Jazz fans regard Millsap as our, over-all, best player already. He hasn't had that type of season to justify that support so far in 2012. Maybe tonight will be a jumping off point for him as we roll into 2013?

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X-Factors:

Both teams have seven players who score 7 or more points. If one of our big scorers, or one of their big scorers, is off their games -- in theory -- both teams have the depth to withstand that. I'm saying that the X-Factor for the Jazz tonight should be the battle of the benches. Our bench plays better at home, and if they continue that trend tonight it could more than even the firepower gap that our starters have against theirs and make this a very interesting game.

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Word from the Badguys:

We have an actual Jazz Jam Session. Check out part one (my answers) over at Golden State Of Mind at this link riiiiight here!

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As an aside:

Do y'all remember when Karl Malone broke Donyell Marshall's ribs when Donyell fouled Karl on an And-1 and that had to leave the game? I think Karl had 56 points in that game or something. (I just found the boxscore on BBAL-REF, I was right. 56 points.) Crazy times. Next season Donyell was on the Jazz back in our nascent "Big Lineup" days. (Of course this is false as Karl Malone played a lot of 3 when he was in his 2nd to 4th year in the league)

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Fearless Prediction:

Jazz win, why? Because Tankers shouldn't be rewarded.

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