You have no idea who this is -- but he's going to score 16 points tonight.
Game 56: Golden State Warriors (21-32, Road: 10-16) @ Utah Jazz (28-27, Home: 16-11)
Tonight the Utah Jazz play host to the Golden State Warriors in, well, a conflicted game for some Jazz fans. The Jazz are aiming for the playoffs. In order to make the playoffs the Jazz will most likely need to win 8 of their last 11 games, one of which will be -- naturally -- the game tonight. This Jazz team isn't so hot on the road and play five more road games against Western Conference teams that all have at least one win against us already. There are really no more gimmies, not even tonight.
The other side of the coin, however, is that we don't want Golden State to rack up too many losses -- and potentially escape this season with the lotto pick that they owe us (Top 7 protected). Well, looking at State's remaining schedule (@UTA, vs. DEN, @ DEN, @ POR, vs. DAL, @ LAC, vs. SAS, vs. LAL, @ DAL, @ HOU, @ MIN, vs. NOR, vs. SAS) it doesn't look like winning or losing tonight is going to make a difference. I see them, perhaps, winning only 2 more games all year. That doesn't mean they are going to roll over -- they'll play a tough game for 40 minutes, and then make sure not to mess it up in the end. In recent outings they've lost to Portland by 3, the Lakers by 3, the Nets by 2, the Lakers again by 8 (we're lucky to lose to them by 8 when we're trying to win sometimes), and so forth.
Anyway, after the jump . . . what's going on with the Golden State Warriors, and what's going on with the Utah Jazz!
What's going on with the Golden State Warriors?
The Golden State Warriors have been, well, tanking. They went 7-6 in February, and included in that month were wins against the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets (on the road), Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix again (on the road), the Atlanta Hawks (on the road). Then in early March they won three straight: vs. DAL, @ LAC, and then @ SAC. Then? Well, since then they've gone 3-11. If you minus the three blowouts during that stretch they've lost by a margin of -1.6 points. (Games = 14, Total Margin = -81, which is losing by -5.8 points per game --- Revised games = 11, Total Margin = -18, which is losing by as I said, only losing by -1.6 points a game)
They do just enough to make it seem like it's not deliberate, while it totally is. It's the type of savvy you'd expect from a junior high boy who sets his eye on the prettiest girl in class. Or the type of savvy you'd expect from Action Mark Jackson. (There goes that lottery pick, Utah).
They did win their last game, a game on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Their big producers were David Lee (31 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks), Charles Jenkins (19 points, 7 assists), and Klay Thompson / Richard Jefferson both had 13 points. If you add in Nate Robinson and Dorell Wright that's basically their entire team right now. Stephen Curry is out for, you know, tanking; and Andrew Bogut is also out. The rest of the team plays hard and plays with nothing to lose- so they are very lose and just 'play'. They make sure to lose though, just as much as they need to.
They don't play any defense (#27 in opponents ppg, and #26 in defensive rating); and have the 10th fastest pace in the league. At least this way there's enough shots to go around to keep everyone happy. Which is one way to do it when your franchise is actively not trying to win games anymore this year.
What's going on with the Jazz?
The Jazz need this win. They ARE still trying to win every game. So don't expect to see much more Enes Kanter. That said, even when we're trying to beat the Warriors we still lose to them. They have 4 wins against us in the last 7 games. And we were trying each of those times. No Monta Ellis means we should win though, right?
We shall see. This Jazz team still amazes me on any given night. The Jazz franchise, coaches, owner, and players want this win. And the Warriors want to lose. So, we're probably going to take Golden State to double overtime, if I'm trying to construct an internally consistent idea of this lockout shortened season.
Go Jazz Go!