Golden State at Utah: Game 1 Notes

by Marcel Mutoni

-This is going to be one hell of a series. Especially if the Jazz keep pushing the tempo.

-Early on in game 1, Deron Williams was pushing it every chance he got against a gimpy Baron Davis. That hammy – if it doesn’t heal fast – could ultimately be the Warriors’s deathblow. This is what I wrote midway through the first quarter:

Baron can hardly get to the rack and he is a non-factor on the break.

And then, the second quarter happened…

-17 points (on 5-7 shooting) in quarter number two, and what injury? Baron Davis was back and it was on and poppin’. Sadly for Warriors fans, The Baron seems to be picking his spots because of the injured leg. Unlike games 1 through 5 of the Mavs series, he can’t go full throttle for the full 48 minutes.

-When Larry Bird sees what Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington are doing in these Playoffs, how often do you think he punches himself in the face? I’m guessing it happens at least twice a day.

-The Jazz are a better defensive team than the Mavs. Remember how S-Jax and his teammates were waltzing to the hole in the last series because Dallas simply refused to guard the middle of the floor? Yeah, well, that’s in the past. The Jazz are clogging up the driving lanes, and they have the length to challenge the long-distance shots.

-Never underestimate the gulliness of Jerry Sloan. You might think that Stephen Jackson is an intimidating individual, but rest assured that no one is more hardbody than Jerry Sloan. Put simply, the Utah Jazz reserve all of their fears for the head coach. They will not be intimidated by another team.

(I’m curious to see how long the Jazz can keep running with this Warriors team. Sloan did what Avery Johnson did in game 1: he changed his team’s style of play to match up with Golden State. Fortunately for him and his squad, the strategy worked. We’ll see how long this keeps up.)

-It’s good to see that Andrei Kirilenko has decided to show up for this series. If he can get through it without shedding any tears, I think we’ll have made some real progress.

(Judging by the box score, it would appear as though Dee Brown had little impact on the game, but if you watched, you know full well that there’s no way the Jazz would’ve pulled it out without him. As Deron had to sit due to foul trouble, the rook came in and gave his team solid minutes and played fearlessly.)

-Matt Barnes – who had himself a hell of a game (20 points, 10 boards) – reminds me of Naima from America’s Next Top Model. Shut up! An ex girlfriend of mine used to occasionally make me watch the show with her. I swear. Shut up!

-Respect Carlos Boozer and his 20 rebounds. The Warriors slowed him down offensively by fronting him on post-entry passes and sending double teams from the blindside, but he would not be denied on the boards.

-Deron Williams, without a doubt, was the MVP of game 1. He played like a grizzled veteran, and simply took it to Baron and the Warriors. I don’t know if he can keep this up for the remainder of the series, but Jerry Sloan has to be ecstatic with his point guard’s play in the opener. By attacking the rim, he was able to keep the defense honest, and he managed to create open looks for Utah’s shooters.

(Baron did not have to play defense in the previous series; his vacation has come to an end.)

-The Baron Davis/Deron Williams matchup is the most visually exciting head-to-head battle of these Playoffs. Anytime two great point guards get an opportunity to go at it on a big stage, it usually results in a great basketball game (just ask anyone who watched the opener of the Suns/Spurs series).

Now that Baron has finally been outplayed in the Playoffs, how will he respond? The answer to this question will be one of the determining factors in the outcome of game 2.