Opposites attract: Jazz-Warriors will be decided in 7
Posted: Monday May 7, 2007 11:44AM; Updated: Monday May 7, 2007 11:47AM
SI.com's Ian Thomsen interviewed an NBA advance scout to break down the Jazz-Warriors matchup.
"This is a tough one to call. Golden State has already proven you can throw the regular season and seeding out the window.
"Just because the Warriors beat Dallas, that doesn't mean they'll automatically beat Utah.
"Dallas was the perfect matchup for Golden State because of the way Nellie plays and the matchups he wanted to exploit. And because of the makeup of Dallas' team, they were unable to exploit Nellie's matchup issues -- the Mavericks didn't have low-post scoring to punish the Warriors inside. Those circumstances are entirely different this time around: Carlos Boozer is a low-post scorer and he's had a terrific postseason already.
"You couldn't have a bigger contrast in coaching styles. You've got Nellie as a guy who will try any gimmick in the book, he lets his players come down and play and he encourages them to shoot transition threes. His main offense is to isolate a guy at the elbow. He believes that getting a guy at the elbow puts more pressure on defenses than anything in basketball -- and a lot of other coaches agree because it's hard to help defensively at the elbow. Nellie doesn't try to get too complicated about how he gets a guy there -- he'll either work his player to the elbow or just have him dribble to the elbow to start an isolation play there.
"In Jerry Sloan you've got a guy who's as strict about how he wants his offense run as anyone in the league. His offense isn't the most complicated, but Sloan puts a greater emphasis on execution than any other coach in the league. At the same time he will take the early offense or the quick post-up if he can get it, and he doesn't discourage Deron Williams from getting easy baskets in transition.
"Their offense is based on the UCLA series, and for all these years the Jazz have been running the same play calls, the same action, and everyone in the league knows it. But if they have better players, then you can know every option and if they execute it then it should result in a good shot.
"At the other end Jerry is going to demand more defensively from his team than Nellie ever will: In the regular season, the Warriors were arguably the worst defensive team in the league. So you couldn't ask for more of a difference than between these two coaches.
"Golden Statest plays as much zone as anyone. You might have predicted that the zone wouldn't work as well as it did against Dallas, because the Mavericks are a good shooting team. But in theory the zone should have success against the Jazz, because they don't shoot it so well. They have Derek Fisher as an excellent shooter, and Gordan Giricek, who isn't bad. But the Warriors will take Deron Williams shooting threes instead of penetrating the defense and getting layups. And obviously the zone may help them in the low post against Boozer.
"If Golden State is going to win this series, then Baron Davis has got to outplay Williams. It won't be easy. Williams might be my favorite young player in the NBA. I see him as a potential 10-time All-Star, maybe even an MVP candidate someday. He's the closest thing to a Jason Kidd-type player we've seen in a long time, and he isn't somebody who's going to be bullied by Baron.
"I'm not saying that Baron isn't capable of outplaying Williams. If Baron is right and focused, he can be as good as he wants to be. Obviously he hasn't been the most disciplined guy in the world, but when he's focused in short stretches he has the ability to be a dominant player -- and he has to be dominant for them to win the series. I'd say it's more important for Baron to outplay Deron than vice versa: For the Warriors to win, Baron has to unequivocally outplay Deron.
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