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What To Watch For (Game 6): Warriors Hoping to Run Lakers to 1-5 Start

Especially lately, Mark Jackson has emphasized he wanted the Warriors to play more uptempo. He said a faster pace takes advantage of their strengths, so he wants to speed it up.

That goes especially for the up-there-in-age Los Angeles Lakers tonight.

JACKSON: “We understand what they’re going through. But its important for us to play to our strengths. Continue to be disciplined on the defensive end and, it’s no secret, we want to force the tempo.”

That means you’ll probably see a lot more David Lee and Carl Landry than you will of Festus Ezeli and one of the two. Jackson said those are his two best big men since Andrew Bogut is sidelined the next week at least. Jackson said he’ll take the lumps he’ll receive on the defensive end because Lee and Landry presents match-up problems on the offensive end.

JACKSON: “But I think with both of those guys, ultimately you understand you’re going to be overmatched. The important thing for them is to compete and make life tough. What we want to do is take advantage of what we have on the other end.”

Jackson said Landry is the better of the two at guarding centers, primarily because of his strength. But he said Lee has been solid on defense — paying attention to details, sticking to the principles and gameplan instead of freestyling.

They each do enough on that end to make them playing together tolerable on the defensive end, Jackson said. On the other end, Lee is good at running the floor and Landry is especially effective on the secondary break because his moves are efficient and his decisions are quick.

The key will be rebounding. With the Lakers’ size up front, the Warriors really need the guards to crash the glass as they have been.

JACKSON: “That’s how we want to play. Even with Bogut, a big man that protects the paint and rebounds, I think it’s easier to push. But overall I want that to be part of our identity. We’ve got great shooting in the backcourt. We’ve got guys that can make plays. I want to get as many easy hoops as possible.”

More to watch for tonight …

* Jackson stuck by his comments that Stephen Curry is an “elite” defender at point guard now. He explained that it’s not about the points he allows, per se. He said Curry consistently is in the right position, has good judgment and instincts, is focused and gives effort, and is tougher and stronger than people give him credit for.

Perhaps the best example was the charge Curry took on Chris Paul, prompting CP3 to mock Curry’s defense.

Jackson said even when opponents score on Curry, it’s often in spite of his good defense.

When told his coach dubbed him an elite defender, Curry — engulfed in Lecrae’s Gravity album — smiled and pounded his chest twice.

Of course, with Steve Nash out, Curry doesn’t figured to be tested much. Steve Blake and Darius Morris, top two on the Lakers’ PG depth chart, are combined averaging 10.7 points on 35.7 percent shooting this season.

* Speaking of uptempo, watch for Richard Jefferson tonight. He seems to have a bit more of a bounce in his step as the Warriors’ offense speed up. Mark Jackson said he still has some juice left. If he does, Jefferson is probably the only guy off the bench who can effectively get from half-court to the rim in transition.

In the two games he’s played more than 20 minutes, he’s taken seven shots. If the message is push, that’s certainly giving him a green light.

* Jackson said he could see himself going to the Hack-a-Howard strategy. Back in January, when Orlando played at Oracle, Dwight Howard wound up taking an NBA record for free throw attempts  because Jackson kept intentionally fouling. Howard took 39 free throws, breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s record of 34 in a game. Howard, who last season shot 49.1 percent from the line, made 21 free throws and Orlando beat the Warriors.

Despite Howard’s relative success that night, Jackson said he’d do it again.

JACKSON: “That depends on how he’s shooting and how the game is going. I’m not going to change my beliefs because of one night. The law of averages say foul him.”

Marcus Thompson