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With only three games left before the New Year, Golden State plays its' last road game of 2012 tonight in Salt Lake City. It's the first of four meetings between the teams this year, and another opportunity for the Dubs to improve their already stellar road record.
The Jazz are 9-2 at home, and 6-4 over their last ten games. They have a 9-10 record vs the Western conference, so if the Dubs record is suspect, the Jazz record s moreso.
Al Jefferson (14 dbl-dbls), Paul Millsap, and Gordon Hayward lead the scoring for Salt Lake City. They've still got their nearly-traditional frontline depth with Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors coming off the bench. Lots of trade rumors swirl around the Jazz, also a near-tradition. SLC's frontline depth makes it almost mandatory to discuss trading Millsap, Jefferson, or both.
Mo Williams is out for this game with a severely sprained thumb and Jamaal Tinsley will likely start in his place. The Jazz are 4-1 with Tinsley starting this year, and he's played well against the Warriors in the past.
Marcus Thompson tweeted out the following this morning:
Klay Thompson is not with team at shootaround. He is dealing with a personal matter and expected to arrive in Salt Lake City in time to play
Hopefully all is well with Klay, and he'll be ready for a great game this evening.
Keys to the Game
Rebounding. Always. There is no slacking in the Jazz frontline, and they've got good depth who grab the boards. Golden State will need to box out on the defensive boards and limit the Jazz putbacks - something Salt Lake City has been good at. Particularly if Millsap is shooting from outside, the Warriors need to make sure they have a big in rebounding position to make the Jazz pay. On the offensive end, the Dubs need to continue to hit the glass and get putbacks. SLC hasn't hit the defensive boards as effectively as they have the offensive end, and this is something the Warriors may be able to exploit. David Lee should be able to continue his outstanding season here, and the Rookie Rebounders (Festus Ezeli, Harrison Barnes, and Draymond Green) need to continue the effort and energy that has them 7th, 8th, and 10th respectively among rookies in rebounds per game.
Composure and Control. Pace and scoring need to be at our tempo, not theirs. That means a faster game which needs to be combined with fewer turnovers and fouls. In their wins, the Jazz have scored an average of 95 points - in their losses, 103. The Warriors can do this, and typically have shown very good effort after losses. Stephen Curry needs to keep his head in the game, and work on keeping Klay Thompson's focus up as well.
Bench Play. With Kanter and Favors coming off the bench, Golden State will need every board and every point it can get from the substitutes. Shouldn't be a problem, as Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry are both having near-career years, and Andris Biedrins can still rebound with the best of them.
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