If there is a game left in this season that demands your full attention, this is it. As if it hasn't been strange enough for Warriors fans to see Monta Ellis - a player that has provided them with nearly seven seasons of breathtaking plays while displaying the heart of a Warrior - traded away, tonight he returns to the Oracle in a Milwaukee bucks jersey. I imagine this will feel a bit like showing up at a restaurant to find the girl you broke up with three days ago cuddling in a booth with her new beau, and to make matters worse, you are dining alone because the girl you dumped her for is recovering from breaking her ankle while going up to block a shot against the Houston Rockets. Okay, my analogy is clearly breaking down, so let's hit the jump to see what to watch for in tonight's game.
What to watch for tonight:
- Crowd reaction - I'm expecting Monta to get a big ovation when he's announced (it looks like the team has prepared a video montage for him pregame), but I'm curious to see how things play out as the game goes on. How does the crowd react to Udoh blocking Nate or Klay? This could get interesting.
- Monta Ellis - Obviously all eyes will be on Monta. Will he come out with a chip on his shoulder, or will he let the game come to him? He said all the right things in the locker room after hearing the news that he was traded, but you could see the intense emotion on his face. How will that manifest come game time?
- Ekpe Udoh - Ekpe Udoh in a Scott Skiles defensive system could be scary. Skiles has a reputation for demanding 100% defensive effort from his players, but he won't have to say much because Udoh was already giving that kind of effort during his time with the Warriors. By all reports he looked like he was pretty shaken by the cold reality of the business of the NBA when he heard he had been traded. I want to see how he recovers from that, especially having to walk back into Oracle so soon.
- Klay Thompson - Thompson has been very deferential to Monta when asked about "filling his shoes" in recent days, but tonight he's going to find himself face to face with Ellis, and I'm guessing he is going to feel a bit of pressure to perform well. It could be a big night for Kay, or it could be a "teaching moment" for coach Jackson.
- Richard Jefferson - So far I'm seeing reports that he will play tonight if he can pass his physical, so chances are we will get our first look at RJ to see exactly how much tread is left on the tires.
- Andrew Bogut - Just kidding...
- Larry Riley admitted yesterday that he could have delayed Andrew Bogut's physical long enough to keep Monta and Udoh from being available to play tonight, but he felt that wouldn't have been ethical.