Late Jazz Rally Leaves Warriors Singing the BluesUtah outscored Golden State 4-0 in the last 17 seconds to win Game One of their series, 116-112. The decisive play fittingly came on a putback by Carlos Boozer, who had an off shooting night (6-15) but still contributed 17 points and 20 rebounds, helping the Jazz to a 54-36 rebounding advantage. Boozer rebounded Mehmet Okur's missed three pointer and scored on a layup that put Utah ahead 114-112 with 17 seconds left. Deron Williams had 31 points, eight assists and five rebounds for Utah. Baron Davis led Golden State with 24 points and seven assists, while two Warriors had double doubles: Jason Richardson (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Matt Barnes (20 points, 10 rebounds). Utah's big advantage on the glass is not surprising but the fact that the Jazz beat Golden State in a high scoring game reinforces the point that I made during the Golden State-Dallas series: if your team has at least as much talent as the Warriors do then there is no reason to fear getting into a running game; the Warriors' decision-making and shot selection are questionable at times, so if you run with a purpose then you can beat the Warriors at their own game. Even the Suns, a more efficient team than the Warriors, are vulnerable when an equally talented team runs against them, as the Spurs showed in Game One of that series.
The main advantage that running teams enjoy is that during the regular season most teams do not have the time to prepare to play against that style and, after playing four games in five nights, opposing players do not have the mental or physical energy to withstand that kind of onslaught. In the playoffs, though, you get to lock onto one opponent for up to two weeks and there is plenty of rest between games. Running teams can still beat the weak (L.A. Lakers) and the scared (Dallas Mavericks, who refused to push the ball even though their only two wins came in the highest scoring games in the series) in the playoffs but a "pure" running team will always have trouble winning a championship as long as there are two or three teams that are adept at both pushing the ball and playing in the halfcourt. This is not a criticism of Phoenix or Golden State; neither team would be nearly as successful by playing a slow down, halfcourt game, so it makes sense for them to speed up the game--but that does not mean that the opposing team must react by slowing the game down or that a "pure" running style is the best formula for winning a championship; it is simply the style that best fits the Suns' and Warriors' personnel.
This was a good performance by the Warriors. They were competitive on the road against a good, resilient team. Golden State is playing with house money because no one expected the Warriors to make it this far. Game One suggests that they are not just a one trick pony that posed matchup problems for Dallas but a legit playoff team that can compete with the Utah Jazz. This should be a long, entertaining series.
posted by David Friedman @ 5:04 AM