8

Most Important Match-Up?

So, which do you think is the match-up that’s going to have the biggest impact on the series?
A: Baron Davis vs. Jason Terry?
B: Al Harrington vs. Erick Dampier?
C: Stephen Jackson vs. Dirk Nowitzki?
D: Jason Richardson vs. Josh Howard?
E: Don Nelson vs. Avery Johnson?
F: Monta Ellis vs. Devin Harris?

Don’t forget to leave your analysis/explanation!

0

No Pressure

The Warriors pre-game locker room was atmosphere would have been encouraging for Warriors fans. They seemed to be as loose as ever, just as relaxed as can be.
Matt Barnes was telling jokes. Stephen Jackson was easy to chat with, as usual. Baron looked like he was chilling.
There wasn’t a sense of that oh-my-God-we’re-in-the-playoffs feeling you might expect. Of course, they can and might change as tip-off nears. But if it’s a sign of what’s to come, it was a good one. The Warriors play much better when they are loose and confident.

0

Surprise Warriors Star?

So, I was thinking. Don Nelson only goes eight deep. But, in the playoffs, the good teams seem to always get some surprising contribution from some lesser-known player. Last season, Devin Harris came off the bench for Dallas and wound up being a factor. Anderson Varejao was huge for Cleveland in last year’s postseason. And who remembered Tim Thomas was still in the league before he started knocking down 3-pointers left and right for Phoenix last postseason?
It makes you wonder, who is the unusual suspect for the Warriors that will come off the bench and make some big plays in this series? Who will Nellie turn to when if foul trouble hampers his rotation?
Adonal could wind up being a factor if Dampier starts to dominate inside (Don’t laugh! Avery said Dampier was going to have a monster series). Sarunas might be called on to hit a big 3-pointer. Josh Powell could be this year’s Varejao.
Al Harrington stole my thinking on the subject when I asked him who has the best chance of being the Warriors’ unsung hero.
“It might be Kelenna,” Harrington said. “You know he can score that ball. He’s just a live body. He can do everything that we’ve got going on out there. He’s one guy you can throw right in the mix and he’ll fit in perfectly.”
Nelson can throw Azubuike on a hot perimeter player, put him in to help out on the boards, or spot him up behind the arc. However he uses Kelenna, I don’t think he’ll hurt you that much, especially in short spots. When he’s gotten big minutes this year, he’s delivered.
“Whatever he needs,” Azubuike said. “I might play. I might not play at all. I’m just making sure I’m ready.”

7

Thanks for Trying, Mike!

Gotta give D’Antoni love for trying to knock off the Clippers. He ran Nash and Stoudemire out there the whole game.
It sets up a crazy Wednesday, with the Warriors at Portland, Lakers at Sacramento and Clippers hosting the Hornets. I’m going to the Clippers game to cover that angle. Here are the remaining scenarios:

If the Warriors and Lakers win, and Clippers lose: Lakers would get the No. 7 seed and face Phoenix. The Warriors would get the No. 8 seed and face Dallas. Clippers go home.

If the Warriors and Clippers win, and Lakers lose: The Warriors would get the No. 7 seed and face Phoenix, the Lakers would get the No. 8 seed and face Dallas. The Clippers would go home.

If the Clippers and Lakers win, and Warriors lose: The Lakers would get the No. 7 seed and the Clippers get the No. 8 seed . The Warriors would go home.

If the Clippers win, and the Lakers and Warriors lose: The Lakers would get the No. 7 seed and the Clippers would get the No. 8 seed (Lakers have the better division record). The Warriors would go home.

If they all lose: The Lakers would get the No. 7 seed, the Warriors would get the No. 8 seed and the Clippers would go home.

Got it?

0

Thanks, Avery!

The general did the right thing for his team by resting his key guys. Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier spent the game in street clothes. Anything else would’ve been just stupid.
There was nothing to gain, at all. Too much to risk. Primarily, one of the key guys could get hurt, which puts a serious dent in the Suns championship plans.
But say Avery does come after the Warriors, for statement’s sake. What if Dallas loses? How crushing would that be? That give the Warriors even more confidence against Dallas should the two meet in the first round.
As it is now, the Warriors still haven’t played Dallas in a playoff atmosphere, which is what the Oracle would have had if Dallas had come to play. The uncertainty of how the Warriors will match up when the games are more meaningful, and Dallas’ experience, should be enough to make the difference.
There was no need for Avery to puff his chest out and prove a point against an eighth seed. The Mavericks won 66 games after reaching the NBA Finals. They have much bigger fish to fry than the Warriors. Anyway, his point would be better proved by beating the Warriors in the playoffs than trying to avoid them now.

13

For the Record …

The Warriors aren’t in the playoffs yet. Hate to spill haterade on the premature postseason celebration, but all the Warriors have done (with the help of Sacramento) is regained control of their own fate. But they still have to win out. If they lose one and the CLippers win out, all this hype is for nothing.
After the game yesterday, a couple of my NBA security friends and I were discussing seeding and first-round match-ups. We pulled Matt Steinmetz into the conversation. The first thing he said was “Get past Dallas first.”
It’s so true. People have already inked 42 wins for the Warriors. But No. 41 won’t be a cake walk as was No. 40. True, the Warriors are playing great, they are exceptional at home, and Dirk Nowitzki may not play too much. Still, the Mavs have 66 wins for a reason — they know how to win.
Hopefully for Warriors fans, Nelson isn’t buying the hype and won’t allow his players to feel as if they’ve accomplished something. Overlooking Portland on the road in the home finale is dangerous. Overlooking Dallas in any arena is inexcusable.