Utah Versus Golden State PreviewWestern Conference Second Round
#5 Utah (51-31) vs. #8 Golden State (42-40)
Season series: Tied, 2-2
Golden State can win if…Baron Davis continues to play at an MVP level and if the Warriors' frenetic style frustrates and befuddles the Jazz as much as it rattled the Dallas Mavericks in round one.
Utah will win because…Carlos Boozer is a mobile and powerful big man who will score, rebound and draw fouls in the paint, disrupting Golden State's running game. Boozer has a really nice game now; he has a countermove that he immediately employs if the defense takes away his first move--actually, he has an array of first moves, accompanied by different countermoves. His recent TNT "Fundamentals" segment is must viewing for any upcoming post player. Deron Williams is strong and tough and will not back down from Davis.
Other things to consider: I'll be more honest than most people who are making predictions about this series: nothing that happens between these two teams would surprise me at this point. I thought that both squads would fight valiantly but be eliminated in the first round. If Golden State stays hot and runs the Jazz right out of the gym in four straight I would not be shocked; if Utah slows the game to a crawl, Baron Davis blows out a hamstring, Stephen Jackson gets suspended for something and the Jazz sweep the Warriors I would not be shocked, either. The Warriors changed their roster in midseason and Utah started hot, got cold and then overcame a 2-0 deficit to beat Houston in game seven on the road, so who knows what any of that means. So why am I picking Utah? I'm trying to play the percentages. Utah was the better team for a longer stretch of the season and thus has the homecourt advantage in the series; Utah has an excellent post player in Boozer; Davis is always one wrong move away from an injury that takes him out of the lineup; Jackson is always one wrong move away from ending up suspended or in court; I'm still not convinced that Golden State is a great team, as opposed to a team that simply matches up great with Dallas. Individually, none of those factors would necessarily be decisive but taken together all of the "X" factors seem to point in Utah's direction.
posted by David Friedman @ 1:59 AM