Monday, May 07, 2007

West Conf. Semi Preview (Jazz-Warriors)

Jazz (5) vs. Warriors (8):

- A matchup of two teams that have divergent views on how to play basketball. The Jazz are about playing under control at all times, strict execution & smart shot selection. While the Warriors could care less about any of those things. They are all about playing with a helter-skleter reckless abandon with little concern for trying work the ball around to find "the best possible shot". Warriors also like to get out in transition at every opportunity, while the Jazz ain't known for their fast break ability. Should be an interesting contrast in styles, with neither coach likely to change their styles too much to accommodate the other team.

- Jazz should have a major edge on the boards. The Jazz were +5 in reb. margin for the year, while the Warriors were -5 rpg. Granted, the Warriors numbers might be skewed by injuries, they were still outrebounded by 2.5 per vs. the Mavs & were getting outrebounded by 6 per for Games 1-5. The Jazz pound the off. glass as well as anyone, while the Warriors were none too special protecting thier def. boards vs the Mavs (68.2 def rb. pct., not good).

- The one area where Utah & Dallas differ, is the Jazz will not hesitate to attack the interior of the Warriors' defense. Boozer should do some major damage in this series since the Warriors don't have a good matchup for him at all. To lesser extent, watch for Harpring being able to get lay-ins off his impeccable use of the flex cut on the baseline. Sloan might even use Millsap even a little more to put even more pressure on the Warriors' interior defense.

- Though the Warriors downsized frontline should have the Jazz licking their chops, the Warriors could have the answer with their 3-2 zone. I was really impressed with how effective it was in Game 6, with all the athletes they cover so much space. And a good zone is a good ancedote to what the Jazz like to do. The Jazz run a Flex system and zone is always advisable to combat the Flex, especially vs. a team that does not shoot well. And the Jazz happen to be one of the worst 3pt. shooting teams in the league. But they do have some solid mid-range shooters that could get going if given too much space.

- The question for G-State: Can Baron & JRich stay this hot from the field? Baron was somewhat out of his mind from long-range vs. the Mavs--45%--considering he shot 30% for the year, and is a career 32% 3pt. shooter. While JRich shot 51% overall vs. the Mavs, while only shooting 42% for the year. I have to imagine they will cool off a little in this series.

-Baron & JRich won't be able to totally manhandle the Jazz backcourt like they did vs. the Mavs. Deron & Fisher should be able to hold their ground fairly well if & when Baron & JRich want to post; Harpring will get some time on JRich & JRich won't be pushing him around. So I see both Warriors using their advantage in the quickness department to try to blow by the Jazz perimeter off the dribble.

- Harrington could be the key to the Warriors' fortunes. Can he guard Boozer? Not quite sure. probably not too well, but he is most likely the best defensive option they Nellie has for Boozer. Biedrins will probably get some looks at Boozer as well, but not sure he can do any better than Al. And if Harrington can get his shooting back on track (he was over 40% from 3pt. for the year), he will open up the lane even more for the perimeter slashers.

- I think the Jazz can function well going small because Kirilenko & Harpring can man the 4 spot vs. the Warriors. Besides pounding the ball into the paint & crisp ball movement can be effective vs. G-State. When you play a team that likes to scramble/ double/trap as much as G-State, whipping the ball around can get the defense way out of position & leave huge open spaces (Mavs did a good job of this in Game 5). And the Jazz just happen to be one of the best teams at moving the ball & executing in the NBA.

- I'm still skeptical of the Warriors' defense, sort of feel like their defensive play vs. the Mavs was a fluke. Somewhat attributed to Nellie's familiarilty of Dallas. But then again I was impressed with how effective their zone can be, and how it could matchup with what Utah likes to do well. And if the Warriors steal just one road win, it could be enough since they seem bullet-proof in front of the Oak-Town crowd. But I have to go with the Jazz: they have a huge advantage on the boards, have the goods to punish the Warriors inside, & their steely offensive execution can expose the scrambling the Warriors like to do.

M. Haubs' pick:
Good lord, I have no idea what to make of this series where seemingly no one will be able to cover anyone else. I'm gonna go Jazz in 7 with the home team winning every game.