NBA Regular Season 2012-2013, Game 78:
Utah Jazz (40-37) at Golden State Warriors (44-32)
The Lakers lost this afternoon, we have to win tonight to take advantage
Last season the Warriors somehow lost a lot of games to end the season, and somehow retained their first round, lottery pick that they would have had to give the Jazz. And last season the Jazz made it from the 12th seed to the 8th seed in a matter of weeks. That was last season. This season we have the Jazz facing a Warriors team that has leap-frogged them in the standings. Utah started today as the 9th seed, and the Warriors were on the precipice of securing their playoff spot. They current sit at #6 with a 1.5 game lead over the #7 Houston Rockets. My, how much can change in a season as the Rockets didn't even make the playoffs last year, nor did the Warriors.
Some people would argue that HOU and GSW ended up losing more games than they normally should have last year. We took advantage all the way to a 0-4 butt kicking in the playoffs to the San Antonio Spurs. They other two teams were very active and made a number of moves to get better. And now they're ahead of us.
It must be witchcraft.
Anyway, today's game pits two teams that looked to be in each others' spots last year. We were the playoff team last year, and they were the lotto team. Trading places jokes aside, both of these teams will be coming out tonight all business.
The Warriors have won 3 in a row, and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. They're 26-11 at home, and 25-21 against the Western Conference. They have a slim margin of victory (+0.9 ppg), but can score on any team. They are #9 in PPG, #6 in quickest pace, and #11 in ORTG. They're not fantastic on defense, but they're not horrible at it either. They're second in the Pacific Division right now and have done it without Brandon Rush for all but 2 games this year. They are fantastic on the defensive glass (#2 in DRB%), and #1 in the NBA in 3pt%. That's an odd combination, but they've done it. They are sharp shooters who don't get pushed around.
Stephen Curry is averaging 22.5 ppg, 6.9 apg, 4.0 rpg, 1.6 spg, shooting 44.8%/45.3%/89.9% while making 3.4 threes a game. Offensively he's having one of the best years for a pure shooter that I can remember. He's supported by David Lee (who seems to always beat up on Paul Millsap in H2H) who is having a spectacular 18.6 ppg / 11.2 rpg / 3.7 apg season. Look at those numbers. If Al Jefferson was a 19/11/4 guy we're never stop hearing about it. (True fax: Jefferson is at 17.4 ppg / 9.0 rpg / 2.1 apg)
Golden State gets a lot of help from Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry, and Harrison Barnes -- all four of those guys can go off on any given night, and average between 16.2 ppg and 9.3 ppg. That's a solid distribution on offense.
We're not that shabby as we also have 6 guys who score 9 or more points, but Golden State has two guys who score more than our best scorer. In fact, their third higher scorer scores more points than everyone on our team save for Big Al. But that's not to say we're chopped liver. Our ORTG is actually #10 to their #11. They score more because their pace of play is #6th in the league, ours is a lowly #20th. We can get the job done and of late we've been a very good team. The difference is that Golden State's best players seem to get to the line, and make their free throws. Over the last month the guys on our club who can and do get to the line have been missing their freebies. And that can sink a team that's trying to stay afloat.
The Jazz have the overt inside advantage, however, they've been unable to assert that advantage and turn it into dominance against Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Carl Landry, and rookie Festus Ezeli. They've played us straight and don't need to double, and that doesn't open things up for our outside shooters. As for the Dubs? Well, they run up and down (which is facilitated by their superb defensive rebounding) and flat out are just jacking up shots (NSFW). They are open shots. And as a result, they are good shots. And they go in. So we really can't say much about it.
To further complicate things the Jazz will be without Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, and Kevin Murphy. Kanter is out with a dislocated left shoulder. Burks is out with a sprained left ankle injury. And Murphy is still battling a skin infection. But wait, there's more! Marvin Williams, who has right heel tendinitis, is questionable tonight. And Jamaal Tinsley, who has a bruised lower back, is probable for tonight. So we may get a chance to see Jerel McNeal tonight. I think he's superman's dad, or something.
Tonight is going to be a fun game. We need this win, and Golden State wants to secure their playoff spot, and will need this win too. We're horrible on the road. They've gotten our goat a few times. We're more injured than they are. But the Lakers lost this afternoon. Our coaches and players should have been watching that game closely. They'll know that now is the time to pounce.
Let's go Jazz!