Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Series Wrap-Up: Jazz-Warriors

Jazz win series 4-1. Fresh off a stunning upset of the Dallas Mavericks, the Warriors entered this series as the hottest team in the playoffs and the “experts” choice to pull another upset and get to the conference finals. Despite Mehmet Okur starting out the series like a “bizarre Nowitzki” on the boards and from the perimeter and Golden State not having an answer for Carlos Boozer in the paint, the Jazz had to work very hard to win Games 1 and 2 at home. In addition to Boozer and Okur, Derek Fisher and Andrei Kirilenko also played key roles in Utah’s victory. Fisher began the series as an emotional hero, but emerged as Utah’s defensive answer to the white-hot Baron Davis and its savior in Game 5, scoring 20 points and hitting 4 3-pointers that helped eliminate the Warriors. The series also saw the return of Andrei Kirilenko, whose emotional state over the past 2 weeks may be one of the great roller coaster rides in NBA history. AK-47, who is the PERFECT defensive weapon to combat the Golden State’s “no bigs, lots of 6’7” shooters”, frustrated Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington while averaging a solid 16 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks in the series.

The Warriors, who, shot the ball well from the perimeter, making nearly 40% of their 3-pointers in Games 1-4, had a legitimate chance at winning every game in this series. Even in Game 4, their most lopsided loss, Golden State entered the fourth quarter with a three point lead. This is an athletic and versatile team that can shoot the lights out and beat anyone on any given night. In order to challenge the league’s elite teams next season, the Warriors will have to placed a greater emphasis on their “in-the-paint” offensive game, which will allow the to 1) stay in games when their outside shots are not falling and 2) take opposing big men, like Boozer, Kirilenko and Okur in this series, off the floor by getting them into foul trouble. All in all, however, the Golden State Warriors exceeded even the most optimistic expectation this season and deserve our gratitude.

Great season, guys! Thank you for the excitement! Thanks for the frequent reminders that this game can still be a hell of a lot of fun! Can't wait to see you next year!

No comments: