And it was all yellow
Welcome to Oakland, Utah Jazz. You've heard what everyone said about us Warrior fans. How loud we get, how we ragged on the Chuckster, how the Warrior players love playing in front of us. Tonight you experienced it first hand and got swallowed whole. It was a sea of yellow tonight at the Oracle Arena. The Warriors organization handed out the yellow "We Believe" shirts for the third time this postseason. The Warriors have won 4 games at home in the playoffs, when the Warriors hand out the "We Believe" shirts the average margin of victory is 21 versus when they don't hand out the "We Believe" shirts the average (1 game) margin of victory is 4. Coincidence? I think not. Keep the shirts coming.
The crowd started out quieter than the previous games at home because only about 2/3 of the stadium was filled, up until about middle of the first quarter. The reason for the emptiness? An accident on the freeway that blocked off one of the lanes. So traffic going both ways was backed up. I was hoping they would delay the start of the game so more people could get in their seats but it didn't happen. That didn't stop our section from getting loud though. I looked around and the ENTIRE game, the upper level center court sections (we were in 201) were standing. From pregame intros to the final buzzer, we stood and cheered the whole time. The only time we sat down were timeouts.
This is what you call a statement game. To blow out the opposing team on your home floor is like putting your foot down and telling the other team that they have no chance to win here. At one point, the Warriors led by 30 points in the 3rd quarter and the closest the Jazz ever got was 15 in the middle of the 4th. The ultimate statement, in fact it was the exclamation point on the night, was The Dunk.
Okay, so I was going to dive into the game, but I'm too excited so I have to write about THE play of the game. Andrei Kirilenko meet Baron Davis. Dunk. And 1. And 1. And 1. And 1. And 1...
Right now on ESPN's recap, there's a Sportscenter highlight reel of the game. From there you can watch all of Baron's spectacular moves tonight. Top on my list is the absolutely ridiculous dunk on AK47's head. What made this special was that AK47 has been blocking Warriors all over the place and Baron just decides that he's going toe to toe with him. We went nuts at the arena. I jumped around in the little 2'x2' area of my seat and accidentally knocked over my nachos. Chips everywhere, people screaming, hugging, high fiving, and in absolute disbelief. Check out Adonal's reaction on the video. Hilarious. Baron is nasty.
Make sure to check out the other 4 highlights from the Sportscenter clip. All would normally be worthy of being the top play on Sportscenter. There was the tight spin dribble between Okur and Fisher that led to a SJax layup. Then there was the 360 layup where he bounced off of Okur. The third highlight was the ridiculously difficult reverse layup where he squeaked by Okur again. And of course, the posterization of Kirilenko.
So what about the game? Beautiful and just the way the Warriors want to play.
They attacked on defense. Like I wrote earlier in The W Column, this series will be won by defense. The Dubs recorded 12 steals and forced the Jazz into 23 turnovers. They forced the Jazz into some bad shots and a few shot clock violations. On most inbounds plays, the Warriors played solid D and forced the Jazz to work to get the ball in. A couple resulted in steals.
Biedrins strong to the hole
They attacked on offense. The Warriors penetrated tonight and got in the lane. It led to layups and open kickout 3's. It allowed Biedrins to roam the lane and get open. Once he got the ball, he knew what to do with it and he delivered. In fact Biedrins had a nice game overall tonight and his 13 rebounds, 4 offensive, were huge. He attacked the Jazz interior tonight and got to the line. Overall, the Warriors really did a great job of staying aggressive on offense.
Jax: "Dunk you very much!"
You know what was great about tonight? Even though Jax didn't have a great game outside of his 5 assists, the Warriors still blew them out. He played just 28 minutes and scored 8 points. The other players on the team really stepped up to carry the load for him.
JRich for one of his 5 made three's
Jason Richardson had a big game tonight. He dropped an efficient 25 points, shooting 10-17 (5-9 from 3). His 3's were key to the game and he helped spark the onslaught from the outside. Look at the 3 point shooting percentage, 15-32, good for 47%. The Warriors certainly won't shoot this well from long distance all the time, but they sure got a lot of great looks. How many contested 3's did they take this game? Not that many. A lot of the 3's came on drives with a kickout to the open man. If Utah doesn't guard the perimeter, the Warriors can shoot close to this percentage every game.
Monta Ellis, welcome to the playoffs. He wasn't as good as he was during the regular season, but he contributed much more than he normally does. He played 20 minutes, scored 10 points and got a couple steals. He pressured the ball on the perimeter which led to an open floor steal and wide open dunk. What I really liked to see was that he hit a couple of mid-range jumpers that he normally hits. That should get him his confidence and open things up for him. Hopefully this is something he can build on for Sunday and the rest of the playoffs.
Good to see Al Harrington contributing solid minutes this entire series. He needs to hit the boards harder, but his 15 points were good to see. He was stroking it from 3 as well going 4-7. He's getting much more involved and showing a lot of confidence. He's not hesitating on the open 3's anymore.
One last note, Mickael Pietrus, 8-9 from the line.
Man, Sunday is going to be a lot of fun. It should be closer than this game but the Dubs should still win.
Baron Davis. My goodness. He's playing so dominant especially at home. He ended the night with 32 points (60% from the field), 9 assists, 4 boards, 6 steals, in just 34 minutes of play. Not only did the Warriors win, but he was able to get some extra rest for the remaining games of the series.