Where: Oracle Arena in Oakland
When: 5 PST
TV: CSN Bay Area
Radio: KNBR 680/1050
Blog Buddy: SLC Dunk
In many ways a win this evening against the Utah Jazz would represent the beginning of a journey, not the end of one. A win represents a playoff birth for the first time since We Believe. A win versus the Jazz would signal in earnest the beginning of a serious era in Warriors basketball. An era of playoff basketball, of thinking more about the post-season than, well, Vegas Summer League (which sadly too many of us have placed considerable amount of interest in over the years). A win tonight means we have to start seriously thinking, not just about getting to the playoffs, not just about how this team is built for regular season wins, but more about how we are going to win games in the post-season with this iteration of Warriors basketball.
The core of this Warriors team is very young still. The starting 5 are all under 30, and positions 1-3 are 25 or under. There is definitely room to tinker with the formula, based on what we will see in the playoffs. Whether it's Denver, LAC, or Memphis, our thoughts will quickly turn from today's (significant) achievement to next year's expectation of winning basketball.
First things first, though. Tonight we play a Jazz team that is fighting for their lives to overtake the Lakers for the 8th and final spot in the playoffs. A Jazz team that definitely has talent (Favors, Millsap, Jefferson, Kanter, Burks, Hayward), but has been beset by backcourt injuries and arguably indecision about which way is forward (notably the non-decision about trading Millsap or Jefferson, when they clearly could have got some value). To top it off, their coach Tyrone Corbin could be looking at a pink slip, if he doesn't manage to secure that 8th seed. Needless to say, the Jazz have plenty of reasons to come out breathing fire this evening, and our Warriors better be prepared to do the same.
And I probably don't need to tell you, dear reader, that we need this win not only to guarantee a playoff spot, but to hold off those damn Houston Rockets from overtaking us in the standings!
Ok, so let's do this. How do we do this? By now, we all know the formula for this team's success. It starts with shooting and it ends with defense. If both of those go well, we tend to win. When one or both falter, all bets are off. There's really not much more to analyze. Utah has a bunch of bigs who can score and some of whom can defend. Bogut and Ezeli will have to hold the fort down low, and Lee will need to continue showing the effort level he seems to have risen to in recent weeks on the defensive end. The Utah backcourt is weak, and this is a game made for Curry, Klay, and Jack domination.
I'll be at the game with my bro, and I can't wait. The future begins now.