Throughout the playoffs, warriors.com will be bringing you behind-the-scenes analysis and information, including pictures, audio, video and more. Check back often for updates from the road and from practice, plus much more.
Final Entry - View The Warriors 2007 Playoff Photo Gallery
Well everyone, it's been fun. It was a wild ride and we enjoyed every minute of it.
From watching the team go 4-1 at ORACLE Arena to the sights and sounds of 20,000 raucous, gold-clad fans, the Warriors' 2007 Playoff run was an unforgettable experience.
Once again, thank you for your incredible support over the course of the 2007 Playoffs, the 2006-07 regular season and beyond. The Warriors organization is lucky to have such a loyal and supportive fanbase. Thank you again for reading our blog and visiting warriors.com. We hope you enjoyed all of our playoff coverage.
To take a look back at the Warriors' entire playoff run - with photos from practice, the arena parking lot, the team plane, the ORACLE Arena floor and more - check out our 2007 Playoff Photo Gallery.
If you'd like to view our First Round Warriors-Mavericks Playoff Blog, click here.
Be sure to stay tuned to warriors.com all summer and remember....It's Just The Beginning.
The Warriors were back at their Downtown Oakland Practice Facility today, where they went through the annual tradition of cleaning out their lockers, exchanging good-byes and addressing the media one last time. Overall, the team was in pretty good spirits throughout the day. While they were still disappointed over their loss in last night's Game 5, they know that they will be able to look back on this season as a success.
In the locker room, players exchanged autographed memorabilia for friends and family members, as well as for themselves. They also got in some last-minute jokes and good-natured ribbing, as most will go in separate directions over the next few days. Even with no more games to play, one can truly get a sense of how closely bonded this group is.
Over the offseason, most players will go back-and-forth between Oakland and their offseason homes. It's not uncommon to see players at the practice facility during the offseason, and we have a suspicion that many will be back here soon. In the immediate future, most of the guys will take well-deserved vacations before getting back in the gym to start preparing for next year.
Baron Davis and the Warriors were disappointed on Tuesday, but they have nothing to be ashamed about.
There's not much we can say about tonight's game to make Warriors fans feel better. Any time your team's season ends, a certain time must pass until it stops hurting. When that time does come, though, we are sure that you will always be able to look back at the Warriors' 2007 playoff run with great fondness.
Game 5 ended a series that saw plenty of close games, intense battles, raucous fans and unforgettable highlights, including one ridiculous dunk. It also ended the season for a Warriors team who defied the odds just by making the playoffs, let alone making it to the Western Conference Semifinals by winning a series over a team with the sixth-best record in NBA history.
Making the playoffs deservedly gave the Warriors' dedicated fanbase something they had been craving for 13 years. And when the Warriors' First Round series came to ORACLE Arena, the nation found out exactly how lucky the team was to have the fans that they did. Warriors playoff fever caught on like wildfire, and Warriors fans began to be recognized as some of the best in the entire NBA.
The Warriors honored their fans by giving them an incredible gift - a victory over the #1 seed Mavericks in Game 3 of their First Round series...and then in Game 4...and then in the series-clinching Game 6. The Warriors became the third-ever #8 seed to knock off a #1 seed in the First Round, and the first to do it in a best-of-seven situation.
The series versus Utah brought more of the same from fans, as the Warriors won Game 3 in a rout, only to lose a tightly-contested Game 4. In any case, the fans displayed their loyalty and unending enthusiasm, while the team made them believers with their inspired play on the court.
Warriors fans even showed their support in Salt Lake City.
Overall it was an experience that Warriors fans will never forget. From the improbable late-season run, to the first playoff Game in Oakland since 1994, to a series-clinching victory at home, to hosting the Western Conference Semifinals, the last few weeks have provided many highlights and memories.
We'll be back with plenty of thoughts, analysis, photos, recaps and more over the next several days, so check back soon.
Before we sign off for the night, though, we have to thank you for your support throughout the playoffs and the regular season. Thank you for being some of the best fans in the NBA. Thank you for packing ORACLE Arena and making our ears ring. Thank you for watching at home along with millions of others. Thank you for sporting your Warriors gear all over the Bay Area, and all over the country. Thank you for making us laugh with your signs and your Charles Barkley images. Thank you for reading this here blog. And most of all, THANK YOU FOR BELIEVING!
Baron Davis and Derek Fisher have let it be known that they have no ill feelings toward one another.
Audio from today's shootaround has been added to our Multimedia Page. Find out what Nellie had to say about the Warriors chances tonight, and listen to Baron Davis and Jason Richardson share their thoughts on the upcoming game.
And speaking of Baron and J-Rich, both will be in uniform tonight despite some speculation that one or both would be suspended for their respective flagrant fouls in Game 4. While Richardson's foul on Mehmet Okur was deemed a flagrant foul, category 2, during the game, Davis' hard hit on Derek Fisher was reviewed by the league and upgraded to a flagrant foul, category 2, today.
Both Davis and Fisher spoke up today about the play, with both calling it inadvertent. After Fisher downplayed the incident as an accident, Baron went out of his way to acknowledge his former teammate's honesty, saying "I appreciate Derek Fisher being a man and standing up and speaking out on it."
With that question mark out of the way, tonight's game is shaping up to be another great one. The Warriors will be facing elimination for the first time, while the Jazz are going to do everything they can to avoid having to come back to Oakland. The intensity is likely to be as high as ever and we personally cannot wait. With that said, we'd highly recommend skipping American Idol tonight. Turn it over to TNT, sit back, and enjoy the beauty that is playoff basketball.
Turning 67 today, the ideal birthday gift for Don Nelson would be a victory tonight.
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY COACH!" is what Patrick O'Bryant yelled from the sidelines during the middle of the Warriors’ shootaround.
Head coach Don Nelson, who is celebrating his 67th birthday today, had just halted the walkthrough by saying, "The next person who wishes me Happy Birthday gets to start tonight."
Before the words were out of his mouth, O'Bryant was punching his ticket for the starting lineup ... or maybe not. But at least the rookie center was paying attention!
If you had been at the Warriors’ shootaround today or on the bus riding back to the team hotel afterward, you would not have thought that this group is up against the wall and fighting for their playoff lives tonight.
In a one-on-one interview with Pam Oliver from TNT for tonight's telecast, Baron Davis explained the team's thought process by saying that all they wanted to do was go out tonight and have fun. BD said the Warriors had gotten away from that recently, but now that most of the world is counting them out, all they can do is run and gun and have some fun. Basically, just play the way they played during the final month of the season when Golden State raced past opponents on a nightly basis in a mad dash to the playoffs.
The bus ride home from shootaround was like an audition for the next “Kings of Comedy” DVD. The jokes were flying and no one was safe from being made a target. The biggest target, however ... Mitch Richmond. Don't know why, but Mitch was taking heat. And when he started firing back, everyone on the bus was in stitches.
So like a broken record, we can once again report that the team is loose. Facing the longest of odds and in hostile territory, they remain loose. They believe in each other and, as Baron said, they are going out to have some fun.
It should be a very interesting night.
For a full preview of tonight’s Game 5, click here.
Warriors superfan Paul Wong will be at Game 5 hoping to find fellow fans to give shirts to.
As we stated earlier today, the prevailing notion among the Warriors as they addressed the media at today's practice was pretty consistent:
Despite the fact that only nine teams in NBA history have recovered from a 3-1 hole to win a playoff series, the Warriors remain positive. Al Harrington echoed the same sentiments that he spoke about on Sunday night, when he noted the desire for he and his teammates to "play another home game" in the playoffs. The team realizes how vital the home crowd has been to their success during the post-season and is confident that a win Tuesday in Salt Lake City would put the club in good position to force a possible Game 7 on Sunday in Utah.
Following Tuesday's practice, the team boarded their chartered flight out of Oakland at 2:00 p.m. for the short 90 minute journey to Salt Lake City. During the flight, the majority of the players slept or listened to music, which are the two most common activities on any flight during the season. Once the team arrived in Utah and checked into the same hotel they vacated last Wednesday, most of the staff and players elected to watch the two playoff games on TNT or simply enjoy a quiet night in their rooms. Jason Richardson, the club's second leading scorer during the playoffs, conducted an interview with the Lansing State Journal, which is the hometown newspaper from his college alma mater, Michigan State. Stephen Jackson, meanwhile, retired to his room, where he planned to watch an extensive interview that he conducted with TNT's John Thompson last week in Oakland. The interview, which was scheduled to air on TNT's "Inside The NBA" show after the Suns/Spurs game, took an in-depth look at Stephen's relationship with his mother, Judy, who is his biggest supporter. Thompson and Jackson openly discussed Stephen's career and how he has been welcomed to the Bay Area with open arms and taken advantage of the new opportunity. The interview was originally scheduled to air on Mother's Day (Sunday), but was pushed back 24 hours by the network.
(late editor's update: The interview has been pushed back for a second time and will air on Tuesday night on TNT).
In addition to Tuesday's Game 5, the date - May 15 - marks the 67th birthday of Head Coach Don Nelson. Nellie will spend the evening coaching in his 166th career playoff game and won't arrive back home until after 1:00 a.m. An educated guess, however, would lead one to believe that he'll celebrate the day much like the other 364 days this year --- with a nice cigar and sip of his favorite beverage. Hopefully, he can transpose his new age (67) into his 76th playoff win as an NBA coach.
Should the Warriors need additional reason to believe on Tuesday, they need to look no further then the stands at Energy Solutions Arena. The belief that has encompassed the Bay Area in recent weeks will be further emphasized by the presence of Paul Wong, the season ticket holder who began the "We Believe" slogan in March. Mr. Wong plans to travel to Salt Lake City for Game 5 and, most likely, distribute as many yellow t-shirts as humanly possible. He might not find many takers, but his presence will certainly be noticed and appreciated.
The Warriors will hold their shootaround at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday.
Baron Davis doesn't want to hear any doubts about the Warriors' chances to win this series.
Despite the fact that the Warriors are facing an elimination situation for the first time this postseason, the team remains loose and upbeat. At today's practice, most of the players were asked about the team's struggles in Game 4, as well as what it means to be behind 3-games-to-1.
And while it would be easy to be down in the dumps, that is not the case with this bunch. The players and coaching staff genuinely believe that this series is far from over. Many have given the standard 'One game at a time' answer when asked about their chances, but that phrase exemplifies exactly how they need to approach things right now. A team facing elimination has no other choice.
A couple observations from today's practice:
-Michael Pietrus and Andris Biedrins juggling a basketball, soccer-style with the feet, along with Director of Athletic Development Mark Grabow, a former professional soccer player.
-Monta Ellis draining three-pointer after three-pointer with the Big Ball (an oversized basketball sometimes used by players in shooting drills) and having plenty to say about it the whole time.
-About eight players huddled around Coach Keith Smart, who had a couple of still images depicting a set of defensive assignments the team had talked about following last night's game.
-J-Rich addressing questions regarding his hard foul on Mehmet Okur.
-When asked if the Fat Lady is singing yet, Baron Davis saying, "I ain't heard her. I haven't heard her say anything yet."
-Nellie cracking up reporters when talking about Carlos Boozer, saying "He just has skill, or as Timmy Hardaway used to say 'SKEEEEL'."
Following practice, the Warriors got ready to head to the airport, where they will depart for Salt Lake City this afternoon.
For full audio interviews from today's practice, visit our Multimedia Page.
Coach Nelson remained upbeat during today's session with the media.
The Warriors are back at their practice facility this morning, where they are currently talking to the media before beginning practice.
During Nellie's session with the media, most questions centered around what went wrong in Game 4 and what the Warriors need to do to from here. When asked whether he thought his team could win three-straight games, Nellie replied, "I like to think of it as winning one game at a time three times."
Following practice, the Warriors will head to the airport to depart for Salt Lake City. We'll be back with a full practice recap, including audio interviews, later today.
Former teammates Derek Fisher and Baron Davis battled one another throughout the night.
For the first time during the Warriors' current playoff run, they lost a game at ORACLE Arena. The way the team had been playing at home the last couple months, we didn't even know if it was possible for them to be defeated in front of their rabid, dedicated fan base.
The Jazz deserve a lot of credit for the way they played tonight. Despite the chaotic environment, they never let the Warriors make a big run. They mostly played at the pace they wanted, grinding it out until they finally pulled away late in the fourth quarter.
And even though the Warriors are now down 3-1 in the series, fans need not despair. Just last year, the Suns faced a 3-1 deficit in their First Round series with the Lakers, only to storm back and win three-straight games to clinch the series. Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.
There was at least one lighthearted moment following tonight's game. Following his post-game press conference, Head Coach Don Nelson ran into Manute Bol, his former center from the late 1980s Warriors teams he coached. Upon seeing the 7-foot-7 Bol outside the locker room, Nellie said, "Manute, I could have used you out there to block some shots tonight." The two had a good laugh before chatting for a few more minutes.
Nellie and the Warriors will practice tomorrow in Oakland before departing for Salt Lake City. Game 5 will take place on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. (PST). You can watch the game on TNT or listen on KNBR 1050.
We'll be back tomorrow with plenty of behind-the-scenes coverage of practice, thoughts on Game 4, analysis of Game 5 and more.
For a full recap of Game 4, including quotes, notes, photos, highlights and more, click here.
We're officially 14 minutes from tip-off, and both the crowd and the players look ready to get things started.
It's good to see a lot of mothers out at ORACLE Arena celebrating Mother's Day by watching what is sure to be another thrilling playoff game. The Warriors held a special pre-game reception for the mothers of players earlier in the night. During warm-ups, the players presented them with flowers out on the court. They all looked as proud of their boys as ever.
Here are your starters:
Warriors: Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson, Al Harrington, Andris Biedrins
Jazz: Deron Williams, Derek Fisher, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur
Enjoy the game and come back afterwards for a full recap, photo gallery, quotes, notes and some post-game thoughts. And as always, for in-game coverage check out Jeff Dengate's series blog over at NBA.com.
Less than two hours until game time now. It's good to be surrounded by gold yet again.
As you can see in the photo gallery, a couple of our favorite sights during today's pre-game were Patrick O'Bryant and Dee Brown.
O'Bryant, the Warriors rookie who will likely be on the team's inactive list during tonight's game, could be seen running every stair in the lower bowl of the arena. It's something the 7-footer has been doing prior to the Warriors playoff games in order to stay in game shape.
Brown, the Jazz guard who suffered a frightening neck injury in Game 2, was also out on the court, taking shots, dribbling a ball and getting his feel back. He was still going through everything gingerly, but it's definitely a good sign to see him back out on the court, seeing as how he had to be taken off in a stretcher in Game 2.
One quick item of note. The NBA just announced that Tuesday's Game 5 will be played at 7:30 p.m. (PST). It will follow Game 5 of the Detroit-Chicago series on TNT.
Stay tuned for more updates and photos prior to tip-off.
Baron Davis has worn a smile for much of the past two days.
ORACLE Arena has seen a bevy of activity over the past 48 hours. Following the Warriors' Game 3 victory on Friday, the arena had to be prepared for Saturday's 'Incredibles' concert. After the concert, the arena had to be transformed back into the 'sea of gold' for tonight's Game 4, with 'We Believe' cheer cards once again taped to each seat. Kudos go out to all the hard-working employees - both arena staff and Warriors staff - who have been working so hard not only this weekend, but throughout this entire season.
Today's shootaround featured less media than the Warriors have been accustomed to lately, maybe because it's Mother's Day. By the way, if you haven't called your mom yet, we give you full permission to turn your attention away from this blog for the time being...just make sure you come back.
To listen to interviews from today's shootarounds, visit our Multimedia Page.
We'll be back with plenty more updates and information throughout the day, so check back often.
Take a look at some of our new playoff wallpapers by clicking here.
It's game day, which means we're already starting to count down the minutes until tonight's tip-off. 395 and counting if you were wondering...
While you're waiting for the game to start, check out a few of the new playoff wallpapers we've put up. Don't worry, there will be plenty more added soon. And Mr. Kirilenko, we're sorry but we have a feeling you're going to be plastered across desktops everywhere.
Check back soon for updates from today's shootarounds and stay tuned all day for behind-the-scenes pre-game coverage from ORACLE Arena.
Listen to what Baron Davis had to say about the dunk that has everyone talking, as well as his performance in the playoffs and his relationship with Coach Nelson. Also check out interviews with Jason Richardson, Matt Barnes, Al Harrington and Monta Ellis.
We'll be back tomorrow with plenty of behind-the-scenes action from tomorrow's Game 4 at ORACLE Arena. Just a reminder, the game can be seen on TNT and heard on KNBR 680 at 6:00 p.m.
Baron and Nellie have forged a relationship that has done nothing but help the Warriors.
How good was last night's game? It was so good that when the players came into the facility to get ready for today's practice, they all stopped in their tracks and had their eyes glued to the TV in the lockerroom that was showing last night's dominant victory. There's nothing like being on the court during games at ORACLE Arena, but watching them over again on TV let's the players appreciate the experience even more.
Today's practice was pretty typical of how things have been throughout the Warriors' playoff run. The team was focused and showed no signs of nervousness. And a large number of media members showed up, all of whom wanted to talk to Baron Davis.
Some wanted to talk to Baron about his monstrous dunk last night, but most wanted him to discuss his overall outstanding play during the postseason. For a guy who has been counted out and criticized throughout his career, it has to be pretty nice for Baron to now be hailed as one of the top players in the league. Averaging 26.9 points, 6.3 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.44 steals per game has put him in the spotlight, and for good reason. To see just how much is being written about Baron and the Warriors these days, check out our What They're Saying page.
The Warriors returned to ORACLE Arena on Friday night and picked up right where they left off during their First Round series with Dallas. After ending the first quarter up by three, the team exploded for 40 points in the second and finished the half leading by 21. During the first half, the Warriors knocked down 11 three-pointers (tying an NBA Playoff record) and caused 14 turnovers. Oh yeah, and the crowd was electric yet again.
In the second half, the Warriors simply put the Jazz away. The fourth quarter was highlighted by maybe the best dunk we've ever seen in person, as Baron Davis raised up off of two legs to throw down a tomahawk jam in the face of Andrei Kirilenko. Two-time Slam Dunk Champion Jason Richardson said after the game, "“It was the greatest dunk I have ever seen with my eyes in person.”
If you haven't seen the dunk yet,
watch this video immediately. We dare you not to watch it over and over. And if you have already seen the dunk, there's no way you don't want to see it again. In fact, Sportscenter just aired their nightly Top 10, and they chose the dunk as their 9th, 7th, 5th, 3rd and 1st best plays of the night.
If that's not enough, how about an entire video of Baron's Game 3 highlights?
WATCH IT HERE.
OK, enough Baron for now. Well actually, before we stop, did we mention that Baron topped the 30-point plateau for the fourth time this postseason? He's now averaging 26.9 points, 6.3 assists and 2.44 steals per game in the playoffs. It's no wonder chants of "MVP! MVP!" were heard at the arena all night long. As Al Harrington said about Baron after the game, "I know Dirk may have won the MVP of the regular season, but he’s the MVP of the postseason.”
The entire night was eerily reminiscent of Games 3 and 6 of the Dallas series in that the Warriors enjoyed a comfortable lead for all of the second half. And despite the lead, the crowd never relented. They simply kept cheering, hoping the team would pour it on even more. If the Jazz had any doubts about the effect the Warriors home crowd has on games at ORACLE Arena, they certainly won't doubt any more.
The win was a crucial one for the Warriors, as they now trail the series 2-games-to-1 with another home game to play on Sunday. Falling into a 3-0 hole could have spelled doom for the team, and they came into the contest knowing exactly what was at stake. With the fans supporting them from start to finish, they got the job done. As was expected by many, this has the shapings of a long and exciting series.
We'll be back with more tomorrow, including Saturday's practice recap and thoughts on Sunday's Game 4. For now, keep soaking up the victory...and go back and watch that video if you haven't already.
The pre-game scene at ORACLE Arena is mighty familiar. Fans are pumped up and ready for another incredible playoff game, chants can already be heard inside the bowl, media members are everywhere, rumblings of celebrity appearances are floating around, gold is everywhere you turn. Playoff basketball is pretty fun.
While we're here, how about some lineups? It looks like both teams will be going with a slightly different look tonight:
Warriors: Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson, Al Harrington, Andris Biedrins
Jazz: Deron Williams, Derek Fisher, Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur
Frankly, we can't wait for this thing to start. Our ears haven't hurt in a while, and we miss it.
Now this is more like it. We're back at ORACLE Arena and it's nice to see some familiar sights. As was the case with the Warriors first round home playoff games, ORACLE Arena has again morphed into a sea of gold. "We Believe" cheer cards are attached to every seat in the arena. The lower bowl, upper bowl, luxury suites ... EVERYWHERE.
Not to speak poorly of our opponent, but in our opinion, the arena decked out in gold adds a slightly better touch than a powder blue facility.
As for the pregame action, where do we begin? Players are getting warmed up, some running stairs in the lower bowl while others are shooting around. Baron Davis was the first player on the court and you can be sure that he is ready for and focused on tonight's action.
Check back with us shortly as we bring you more pregame coverage.
Warriors playoff fever really cannot be denied at this point. The fact that the Warriors have local artists producing entire songs dedicated to the team officially ends all arguments.
If you live in the Bay Area, you may have heard the Trackrunners' song titled 'Game Time' on a number of local radio stations. Written and produced by the Bay Area duo consisting of Rei Tracks & Whiz Almighty, the track is a full-fledged Warriors anthem that any fan can appreciate.
Opening with the entirely appropriate line "Do You Believe?", the song highlights the Warriors' run through the First Round of the playoffs, and listeners can tell right off the bat that the Trackrunners are die-hard Warriors fans themselves. The chorus of the song features the familiar, 'WARRIORS, Come Out And PLAAA-AAAAY", a line from the 1979 streetfighting movie 'The Warriors, ' which in our opinion was a brilliant choice by the group.
To view the video and listen to the song, click on the above image. To find out more about the Trackrunners, visit their official website.
Don't forget that the Warriors 2007 Playoff Auction will be closing at 4:00 p.m. The auction includes some of the most popular items currently being bid upon over at NBA Auctions, which is no surprise when considering how much demand there is for Warriors gear is at the moment.
Bids are currently being placed on an autographed Baron Davis jersey, autographed game-worn J-Rich shoes, autographed game-worn Stephen Jackson shorts, a basketball signed by the entire 2006-07 team and basketballs signed by Monta Ellis and Don Nelson.
J-Rich and his teammates know exactly what is at stake tonight.
The Warriors and Jazz each held shootaround this morning, and things were just a bit different than usual.
Being that tonight's game starts at 6:00 p.m. (rather than the usual weekday start time at ORACLE Arena of 7:30 p.m.), the teams conducted their shootarounds somewhat earlier than normal. Typically, both teams have their shootarounds at the arena, with the visiting team choosing whether they'd like to be on the court first or second. With today's early tip-off, however, both coaches wanted to conduct their shootaround at 10:00 a.m. The team's compromised so that the Warriors would be at the arena, while the Jazz would use the Golden State Practice Facility.
One of the most notable aspects of today's Warriors shootaround was the number of media members present. As we've stated, as the Warriors continue through the playoffs, the media coverage grows and grows. To see just how much is being written about this series, take a look at our What They're Saying page.
At Utah's shootaround, two things jumped out. First, Derek Fisher was with the team and finally able to put up some shots and run through team sets. Second, Dee Brown was up on two feet, gingerly dribbling a ball and walking around. For those who didn't see it, Brown was involved in a pretty frightening play on Wednesday night in which his teammate, Mehmet Okur, fell right on top of his neck. Brown is currently listed as day-to-day with a sprained neck, which is encouraging news for anyone who saw how scary the particular play looked.
Find out what members of both the Warriors and Jazz had to say at today's shootarounds by visiting our Multimedia Page.
The Warriors will look to give the ORACLE Arena crowd even more to cheer about tonight.
Warriors fans, the wait is over. The team will return to ORACLE Arena tonight to host Game 3 of their Western Conference Semifinal match-up with the Jazz. And while it's only been eight days since the last home playoff game, it has seemed much longer.
Of course, prior to the Dallas series, the wait in between playoff games was 13 years, so eight days should seem like nothing right? We suppose so, but now that fans have a taste of just how exciting playoff games at ORACLE Arena are, every day without a game is a long one. The scene will be a familiar one to the Warriors and their fans tonight, but the big question is, will the Jazz be ready to handle it?
As usual, we'll be here all day keeping you up to date with plenty of pre-game coverage. The Warriors are currently going through their morning shootaround at the arena, while the Jazz are at the Warriors Practice Facility conducting their own.
Check back soon for audio clips from each team's shootaround, and stay tuned all day for behind-the-scenes updates, Game 3 analysis and much more.
If any of the Warriors were down after Wednesday night's tough loss in Utah, they certainly got a lift today when all of the team's employees visited the practice facility, sporting "We Believe" T-shirts and signs. A chant of "Let's Go Warriors" echoed throughout the facility, catching many of the players off guard.
Though surprised, the team was certainly appreciative of the gesture. Head Coach Don Nelson emphasized that the employees are as much a part of the team as anybody and Baron Davis said countless thank yous as he high-fived all the employees upon their departure. In addition, Warriors President Robert Rowell delivered some encouraging words and vowed to the team that ORACLE Arena will be rocking tomorrow night.
The players and coaches weren't the only ones taken by surprise during the day's events, as a large number of media also witnessed the scene. While the playoffs always draw an increased number of reporters, cameramen and tape recorders, the Warriors' playoff run has attracted a media crowd that seems to be growing exponentially. The number of media at today's practice out-numbered any other practice from this season.
Derek Fisher received much support from Utah fans, as well as all of his former teammates with the Warriors.
Last night's Game 2 loss in Utah was another nailbiter that ended unfortunately for the Warriors. If you're a sports fan, you know that close losses sometimes hurt even more than blowouts, and that might be your initial reaction to Game 2. The heartwarming story of former Warrior Derek Fisher - who flew in to Utah straight from New York after being with his daughter as she underwent critical surgery - might have been enough to ease the pain of some fans, but no matter what, the loss was hard to take.
Staying positive, though, the Warriors hung with the Jazz every step of the way in Games 1 and 2, causing turnovers and knocking down shots despite losing the rebounding battle. Considering the fact that the Jazz have the fourth-best home record in NBA history (75-30), the Warriors can still come back home knowing they did not lay down. The team also knows that this series is far from over, especially since Games 3 and 4 will be held at ORACLE Arena, where the Warriors are 3-0 during the playoffs and 12-1 overall since March 1.
Tickets for Games 3 and 4 will go on sale ONLINE ONLY today at 2 p.m. Click here for more details.
Following last night's game, the Warriors returned home to Oakland. The team will hold practice today, after which we will be back with full details and interviews. Stay tuned for more throughout the day.
The Warriors are a tight-nit group who usually hang out together during off days on the road.
The Warriors spent a good portion of Tuesday's off-night in Salt Lake City exactly the way you would figure an NBA team would in the month of May --- watching playoff games at various locations around town. Coach Don Nelson and one of his assistants, Larry Riley, strolled to a local sports bar to watch Game 2 of the Spurs/Suns series from Phoenix. Like most coaches, Nellie loves to scour the channels and view as many NBA games as he can during the regular season and, especially, the playoffs. If he can do it in the midst of other fans - even those rooting for the hometown Jazz - all the better.
Al Harrington and a couple of his teammates - including Kelenna Azubuike and Josh Powell - ventured off to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse for a bite to eat at one of Salt Lake City's elegant establishments. Assistant Coach Keith Smart spent a portion of Tuesday evening with second-year guard Monta Ellis, who went shopping at a trendy outdoor mall near EnergySolutions Arena. Prior to the Olympics in Utah in 2002, the city built a very nice, upscale retail area in downtown, featuring several restaurants and shops. It is a popular location among tourists - such as a basketball team with extra time to kill - especially when the weather outside is as beautiful as it has been in Salt Lake City the last three days.
Adonal Foyle, who is always looking to learn more about everything and anything, hired a driver to take him on a tour of Salt Lake City after practice. He stopped at several locations around town and soaked up a lot of the history this town has to offer, especially in the downtown area.
Wednesday's shootaround at the arena featured a 30-minute film session in the locker room and 30 minutes of shooting drills on the court. As has been well documented, the Warriors are a loose group and do not appear to be overly anxious or nervous, despite the magnitude of the playoffs. Stephen Jackson and Baron Davis, two players who have accumulated playoff experience with other teams, have set the tone for the rest of the squad, as has Head Coach Don Nelson. Nellie has coached in more than 160 NBA playoff games and his confidence has certainly rubbed off on his players.
More than a few Warriors fans donning 'We Believe' shirts have been seen in Salt Lake City this week.
As with the Bay Area, playoff fever has started to catch on in Salt Lake City over the last week. The Salt Lake Tribune ran a front page story today, detailing the Jazz's quick rise back to the playoffs after a 26-win season two years ago. Tonight's game is a sellout at the 19,911 seat arena and scalpers have also taken to the streets. Also, the local fans have put a large focus on the Baron Davis/Deron Williams duel on the backcourt. Many fans created signs on Monday - several of which were in the Tribune story this morning - showing their support for the second-year guard ("Baron is no Deron," one sign read in today's paper). I'm sure Warrior fans will have their say when the teams return to Oakland this weekend.
Fred Inglis, the sports anchor at KTVU in Oakland, decided to have a little fun after shootaround this afternoon. He planned to strut over to the local mall, pull on his gold "We Believe" t-shirt and see what type of reaction he might elicit from Salt Lake residents. I'm sure he did not receive a warm welcome, just like the several Warrior fans who traveled to Utah for Game 1 on Monday. The Golden State contingent was extremely visible in the stands; the gold shirts are a nice contrast to the green seats that adorn EnergySolutions Arena. Hopefully, we will see a little more gold tonight as Game 2 rolls around at 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time.
While you're waiting for the game to start, check out what several players and coaches had to say at today's shootaround by visiting our Multimedia Page. For local and national media coverage of the series, head over to our What They're Saying Page. And for a full preview of tonight's contest, click here.
I just got back from shootaround. The Warriors met with the media there and then went into the locker room to study film. I spoke with Jason Richardson at the meeting, and that interview can be heard by clicking here. For all other interviews from today's shootaround, go to our Multimedia Page.
It is not a scoop to say that Monta Ellis has struggled in the post-season but it was good to see him relax at practice yesterday. I think that’s a good sign and maybe points toward him playing like his old self in Game 2.
At halftime of Game 1, I was pleasantly surprised to see a group of Warriors fans in the concourse, all attired in WE BELIEVE T-shirts. I spoke to them for a moment and they were really fired up. It was awesome to see Warriors fans showing their colors and having a great time.
LOOK WHO IS STROLLING BY
I went to lunch at McGrath’s Fish House yesterday with a group of Bay Area writers. While we were dining we were greeted by Andrei Kirilenko, who was out with his family. He seems like a real nice guy and that opinion was confirmed this morning by those in the know in Salt Lake City.
IT’S A MATTER OF HABIT
Utah Head Coach Jerry Sloan always does his after post-shootaround interview by a pole and a garbage can inside EnergySolutions Arena. Today, the Jazz PR people tried to get Jerry to do the interview in front of the NBA Playoffs banner. Not wanting to break his routine, Sloan walked to the garbage can and waived the media to him.
Some predictions for tonight’s game: The Warriors will run better and keep the pace while Utah will try and put on the brakes for this one. The Warriors will be aware of where Kirilenko is at all times so he does not get seven blocked shots in tonight’s game. Monta will break out. The Warriors will rebound better. The Warriors will win.
The running playoff blog has been a nice inside look and much appreciated. Can the Warriors hire a personal chef to travel with the team on the road so they don’t have to go to Denny’s? Why leave the window open to some rabid Jazz fan (or any other city for that matter) working in a restaurant, to maybe not prepare the meals for his favorite team’s opponent, the same way he would all other meals? This makes no sense, especially during the playoffs.
Thanks and keep up the great work,
Andrew - Seal Beach
Tim Roye predicts Monta Ellis will have a breakout game tonight.
It is the ultimate sign of respect that you would even suspect such a thing. I don't think Denny's would have that kind of impact. The team gets meals catered by the hotels at each stop and the menus are strictly watched for protein and balance. So, if once in awhile they stray to their favorite off-site restaurants, it's OK.
Thanks for the kind words,
Did Monta do something wrong and is that the reason he is not getting much playing time? He really is a big part of the reason why the Warriors are in the playoffs in the first place. Thanks, Robert
Monta has not done anything wrong other than not play well and let that affect his confidence. He is a very talented player and as you know, won this years' Most Improved Player Award. I think tonight in Game 2, he will be just fine and return to his former self.
The Warriors will continue to attack the rim in Game 2.
One of the most misunderstood items regarding Game 1 vs. Utah is that the Jazz played the Warriors’ style of game and won. I look at that game in a different way.
The first quarter featured Utah “blocking” the Warriors shots. Andrei Kirilenko is an outstanding defender, but I would encourage anyone that recorded that game to take a good look at the Jazz defenders in the first half. There was an awful lot of contact in the first two quarters from a Utah team that led the NBA in fouls. Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson didn’t get rewarded very often for attacking the basket consistently.
So what did the Warriors do? They gritted their teeth and played even tougher. A physical game is actually Utah’s style of play, despite the high scoring. The Jazz controlled the boards, scored inside, played human bumper cars with driving attempts from the Warriors and yet the W’s were right in the ball game all night long. The Warriors didn’t lose their composure and kept battling the entire way.
Utah played very well, with Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur having big games. Matt Harpring is a monster off the bench and was instrumental in the Jazz victory. But the Warriors got excellent play from Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Matt Barnes and Al Harrington. Credit Utah with a nice win on its home court, but it’s not like the Warriors don’t have a chance to win in Salt Lake City.
Now Game 2 will have to feature a few different wrinkles for the Warriors to change the ultimate outcome.
Matt Harpring is a fierce competitor who is a key to Utah's success.
1. Don’t leave Mehmet Okur. The Warriors were running at non-shooters and leaving one of the Jazz’s best perimeter players alone. They need to realize who the non-shooters are and adjust accordingly.
2. Keep Deron Williams on the perimeter. Easier said then done, but Williams had a great night launching jumpers. If he continues to hit those, congratulate him on a great series. I’m not sure if he can keep making them all series. Plus, Williams had five fouls and seemed to really forearm check Baron Davis as BD began a lot of his drives. Early foul trouble on Williams could be a big problem for the Jazz.
3. Keep frustrating Boozer. Sure, he is going to get his rebounds. But he didn’t get a lot of clean looks offensively. I really like Stephen Jackson’s defense on Boozer.
4. Pump-fake Kirilenko every once in a while. He is a great shot blocker, he likes to jump, he will usually leave his feet and seems to land on players a lot. Those aren’t going to be no-calls all series long.
5. Get ready for Matt Harpring. He is one tough customer. You can never relax when you play him. But he doesn’t move all that well laterally and is prone to overly physical play. Make his aggression work against him.
6. Keep taking and making those 3’s. Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson, Al Harrington, Matt Barnes and Baron Davis are all three-point threats. It’s part of the Warriors' style of play. And perimeter shots help keep driving lanes open by spreading the floor. Let’s see if the Warriors can draw and kick their way to a Game 2 win.
7. The Warriors could use production from Monta Ellis. Golden State will is going to need Monta Ellis to help slow down Deron Williams, give Baron Davis a breather and to attack Derek Fisher’s foot speed on drives to the hoop. Monta’s emergence could be enough to decide Game 2.
This series may go the full duration. Somehow, I think the winner of Game 2 wins the series. I thought the same thing in Game 4 of the Dallas series. Let’s see if the Warriors can get a split and bring it home to ORACLE Arena for two straight.
Finally, Games 3 and 6 will be on FSN Bay Area with a half-hour Roundtable Live pre-game show preceding each telecast. I’m looking forward to calling those games for the Warrior faithful that can’t get out to ORACLE.
After talking to members of the media and shooting spots for TNT on Tuesday, the Warriors had a little fun of their own.
Just when we thought the day’s action at practice was over….it was just getting started.
First off, head athletic trainer Tom Abenour brought out three cakes to help celebrate the birthday of Dr. Robert Albo, the Warriors’ team physician. Doc Albo is a popular man amongst the Warriors’ players and staff, and one of the biggest Warriors’ fans on the planet. It great to have Doc and other members of the team’s medical staff with the team during the playoffs. Before Doc cut the cake, the players serenaded him with a solid rendition of Happy Birthday.
As cake was being served, the players and ALL staff members in attendance (including trainers, coaches, PR guys, etc) took part in a half court shooting contest with a decent sum of cash on the line. After none of the 35-or-so shots went in on everyone’s first try, Zarko Cabarkapa stepped up and knocked it in off glass to take the cash.
After the half court shootout, everyone headed for the bus for a return trip to the hotel. One of the last players on the bus was Matt Barnes, who had quite possibly the biggest smile of his life on his face.
Dr. Albo (black shirt) enjoyed his birthday cake while the rest of the players and staff had a halfcourt shooting competition.
While not too many saw it, Matt explained how he had just won a FULL COURT shootout with Chris Mullin. Yep. Full court. Both Mully and Matt took turns firing one-handed football style throws from the low block under the Warriors basket towards the hoop on the other end of the court – some 92 feet away. While Mully consistently hit the backboard right on line with the hoop, Barnes has the football background and was confident in his chances. Eventually, he canned one.
As stated earlier, this team is ready and focused. But after the last 20 minutes of activity at practice, one more thing is clear….this team is once again loose. The end of today’s practice reminded many on-hand of the atmosphere at the Warriors’ first couple practices in Dallas before Game 1 of the First Round. It’s a good vibe right now….really good.
To listen to what members of both the Warriors and Jazz had to say at today's practices, visit our Multimedia Page. For full media coverage, check out our What They're Saying feature.
And if you're looking for even more coverage of the Western Conference Semifinal match-up between the Warriors and Jazz, read Jeff Dengate's series blog over at NBA.com.
Don Nelson wasn't disappointed in the Warriors' effort last night.
Waking up this morning and reading the various accounts from last night’s Game 1, everyone’s thoughts were confirmed: That was a terrific NBA Playoff game. Sixteen lead changes and 20 ties? Nearly everyone who saw significant time playing at a high level and making plays? What a game!
It must have been a great game to watch on television, and it was definitely a GREAT game to watch in person.
There was a lot of energy inside EnergySolutions Arena last night. Nothing compared to the non-stop noise and buzz inside ORACLE Arena during the First Round, but definitely more energy than the Warriors ever faced at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The thing that was different last night, however, was that the Warriors stepped up and answered with big shots at the right time whenever Utah would go on a run and the crowd would really get into it. That’s something that Dallas was unable to do during the First Round when ORACLE fans started going crazy – they could never do anything to make the noise stop. Last night the Warriors did that, time and again. And THAT is very promising.
Bottom line is that the Warriors were not fazed last night. This is probably no surprise to anyone that has watched this team the last eight weeks, but it is a fact. Both during and especially after the game, the Warriors remained a confident bunch. In the moments immediately following the final buzzer, there were no hung heads in the Warriors’ locker room, no tantrums and no team meetings. These guys are confident that they can play better than they did in Game 1. They are aware that they are going to be in for a REAL battle against this tough and talented Jazz squad, but they know that at the end of Game 1 they had a chance to win with just one shot or one stop down the stretch.
Stephen Jackson handled himself professionally with reporters following last night's game.
Speaking of shots to win it…Stephen Jackson had one. He took it. He missed. Stephen was the first player to address the media after the game in the Warriors locker room, and if you wanted an example what makes Stephen a “pro,” this was it. Jack made no excuses. He told the media that Baron made a great play, he had a great look at it and he missed. Jack also addressed the fact that while he did a relatively good job of controlling Carlos Boozer for most of the contest, the team knows that an even better effort is needed on the defensive end in Game 2.
Jackson spoke to the media for about 15 minutes in the locker room. He was calm and looked everyone in the eye. He answered the same questions multiple times from different reporters. On the night when the media would have understood and given him a free pass if he only wanted to answer questions for a couple minutes, Jackson handled his business like a pro. This team is full of them.
Strange sight of the night post-game – NBA players at Denny’s. Salt Lake is not exactly New York City, Miami or San Francisco. By the time the team got back to the hotel after the game, it was after midnight and room service was running about a 90-minute wait. The only place to eat in Salt Lake City after midnight is Denny’s. Moons Over My Hammy for everyone!
Now on to Tuesday. The Warriors met for their customary morning breakfast in the bowels of the Grand America hotel, the team’s headquarters here in Salt Lake City. It is a massive place that you can easily get lost in. From there, the team boarded an 11:45 bus for practice at EnergySolutions.
Coach Nelson had the team in the locker room for approximately 30 minutes watching film from last night’s game before bringing the troops out to address the media. It was a large contingent as usual. Baron Davis was taken to the interview room to sit down with Pam Oliver for TNT’s broadcast tomorrow night. A large crowd gathered around Baron once he returned to the court, most wondering how he planned to deal with Jazz point guard Deron Williams, who had a monster night in Game 1.
The media also wanted to catch up with Al Harrington, who had a breakout performance with a playoff career-high 21 points.
To listen to the interviews from today's practice, visit our Multimedia Page.
Once the media session was over, Nelson went through some offensive sets with his frontline guys, while the players who didn’t see much action in Game 1 played three-on-three on the other end.
Baron Davis has been a popular man with the media throughout the Warriors' playoff run.
After Nelson was done with his work, Baron Davis and Andris Biedrins played a modified game of one-on-one. Only post play on the low block was allowed. Only hook shots or turnarounds allowed. First to five wins. After Baron took a quick lead with some left-handed hooks off the glass, Andris went on a run and closed it out with a sweeping turnaround from the baseline.
“That’s OK B.D., you’re still cool,” the 21-year-old said as he walked away triumphantly.
The Warriors are ready. Their spirits are good. They know what they are up against in Game 2 and they feel good about the way they’re playing and the man they have drawing up the game plan.
The battle between Deron Williams and Baron Davis will be one to watch all series long.
Last night's 116-112 defeat in Utah was definitely a tough one to swallow for the Warriors and their fans. The back-and-forth contest featured 16 lead changes and 20 ties and went down to the final minute, with the Jazz ultimately prevailing on their home floor.
But while the loss was heartbreaking, it also gave everyone a sense of how tough and exciting this series is going to be. The high-scoring affair featured each team doing what they do best. The Warriors got out and ran, pushing the tempo, knocking down jumpers and causing turnovers. The Jazz relied heavily on the leadership of Deron Williams, the shooting of Mehmet Okur and the rebounding and inside toughness of Carlos Boozer.
If the rest of the series plays out like last night's game, basketball fans are in for a treat. And no matter what happens in Wednesday's Game 2, Warriors fans are going to welcome the team back to ORACLE Arena with their usual undying support.
For a full recap of Game 1, including photos, highlights, interviews and more, click here.
We'll be back with much more today, including a recap of practice, interviews and a preview of Game 2. Stay tuned for more.
Expect Baron to be healthy and ready to go tonight in Salt Lake City.
SALT LAKE CITY
As I prepare for Game 1 of the series, I am struck by how many good teams and players are at home watching, while the Golden State Warriors are still playing and have a legitimate shot at advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
HOUSTON OR UTAH?
Following Game 6 against Dallas, I asked you to pick either Utah or Houston as the Warriors opponent for the next round. I wrote back to some of you expressing my concern with guarding T-Mac, but after watching Game 7 of the series between the Rockets and the Jazz, there is no doubt that Houston would have been the better match-up.
That’s the anxiety part of the playoffs, one day you’re worried about one match-up, and then the next moment you are worried about the other one.
I rode the elevator with Baron Davis when we arrived in Salt Lake City and he was going to spend some time in the spa. By all accounts, he and Matt Barnes will be ready to go when the ball is thrown up later tonight.
SLOAN AND NELLIE AGAIN
The Warriors are 6-2 all time in the playoffs versus Utah. Golden State swept the Jazz 3-0 in 1989 (Chris Mullin averaged 32 points per game) and won 3-2 in 1987, taking the last three contests of the series.
To hear what each coach had to say at today's shootaround, visit our Multimedia Page.
Great job in the playoffs. I'm glad it was you calling the biggest upset in NBA playoff history, YOU DESERVED IT. My question is this; do you think that once Baron got hurt, the Mavs original game plan went out the window? Do you agree that they concentrated too much on trying to go one-on-one with Baron rather than getting Dirk the ball?
Domingo from Sacramento
Coach Jerry Sloan and Don Nelson have met many times before, including a handful of playoff games.
Thanks for the e-mail and the kind words. I think at that point, the Mavs had lost their way and started to try anything to score and get back in the game. I can't wait to get this series started.
Thanks for keeping us fans updated with the blog. It's awesome.
I think that I would have preferred Houston over Utah because with our personnel and style of play, we could have taken Yao of the equation. However, since we drew Utah, it will be a bit tougher because they have a team that includes big men who can play inside and outside. Plus, they are a deep team that can field Millsap, Brewer, Giricek, Harpring and Fisher.
Anyway, that's my opinion. GO WARRIORS! I BELIEVE!
Art D. from San Francisco
Thanks for the e-mail. I agree with you that Utah is tougher after initially believing that the Jazz would be the better match-up. Carlos Boozer had a great Game 7 and can hurt you either mid-range or at the box. Mehmet Okur can knock down threes and Deron Williams is one of the few point guards that can be close to Baron in strength. It will be a match of tempo and the Warriors will push as often as possible.
Let's get Game 1 started.
Don Nelson will discuss a lot of strategy in the coming days with his assitant coaches.
The Warriors arrived in Salt Lake City – where the mountains are still fresh with snow and the weather is considerably cooler then the 80-plus degree temperatures in the Bay Area – late Sunday afternoon and immediately focused their attention on the Jazz.
Coach Don Nelson, who addressed the Salt Lake City media via a conference call shortly after arriving at the team hotel, conducted one of his usual Coaches Meetings in his suite. These meetings, which feature Nellie, Keith Smart, Larry Riley, Russ Turner, Stephen Silas and Travis Schlenk, are filled with a lot of conversation and even more viewing of film.
The questions are aplenty in a meeting such as this with the coaches. How do we want to defend them? What are some of their strengths? What about their weaknesses? How do we deal with Carlos Boozer? What about Utah’s ability to run perfect execution in the half court game?
Immediately following Utah's victory over Houston on Saturday night, Silas and Schlenk spent the next several hours putting the finishing touches on a huge notebook that was specifically created for this series against the Jazz (They also had one in the making for Houston that had to be tossed to the side at about 9:30 p.m. on Saturday night). The entire coaching staff, as well as the players, was provided a copy of this book early Sunday morning and, needless to say, it will be referred to on many occasions during the next 10 to 12 days.
Monta Ellis will be going up against friend and former mentor Derek Fisher this series.
The book contains a plethora of information on the Jazz, including each player’s strengths and weaknesses, the offensive sets the team runs and some of Utah’s defensive tendencies. The Coaches Meeting in Nellie's room included many referrals to these books. Hopefully, it won't be the last book that Silas and Schlenk publish this season.
While the coaches were busy on Sunday night creating final plans for the Jazz, most of the players relaxed and retired to their rooms. Second-year guard Monta Ellis, however, was able to catch up with former teammate Derek Fisher, who ventured by the team hotel and spent a little time with the NBA's Most Improved Player. Fisher was instrumental last season in assisting Ellis with his transition from high school to the NBA.
Now the two backcourt stars will square off against one another in the Western Conference Semifinals, where Ellis will try to conjure up some of the playoff success that Fisher enjoyed for many years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite the heated competitiveness of the NBA, Ellis and Fishers’ relationship is a perfect example of how players and their friendships are important elements to their lives, even when their teams are immersed in the playoffs.
Baron Davis put on a three-point shooting display today at shootaround.
The Warriors’ shootaround on Monday morning at EnergySolutions Arena lasted longer than usual. The team arrived at 11:00 a.m. and spent about 15 minutes with the large media contingent that has converged on Salt Lake City for this series (seven columnists have traveled to Utah from various Bay Area newspapers). Following media availability, the team – which appears very loose and relaxed – watched film for about 30 minutes in the locker room before venturing out to the floor. Coach Nelson and his staff then went through various Utah half court sets for the players.
The shootaround ended about 90 minutes later in typical fashion – Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson shooting three-pointers from various positions on the floor. And, in case you were wondering, both BD and Jax were knocking them down with regularity, just as they did in the previous series against the Mavericks.
To listen to what Baron, Stephen, Nellie and Coach Jerry Sloan had to say about the upcoming series, visit our Multimedia Page.
Look for the Jazz to be very physical with Baron Davis during this series.
All the emotion and passion that played out during the Dallas series must now give way to dealing with Utah.
I echo everyone’s sentiments on the incredible experience at ORACLE Arena during the playoffs. Warriors fans were simply amazing and it was hard not to be overwhelmed during the final seconds of Game 6. Everyone should experience that type of pure joy in the world of sports.
But now, Utah. Get ready for the ultimate grind-it-out series.
Utah commits the most fouls of any team in the NBA. They play in the image of their coach, Jerry Sloan, and physical play would be an understatement. The Jazz run an excellent half court offense, setting terrific screens and using constant movement without the ball. They have a deep rotation and are an excellent offensive rebounding team.
Enjoy all the comparisons between the Jazz and the Warriors - try the 4 Wheel Drive SUV vs. the Ferrari, or a bare knuckle brawler vs. a stylish boxer. This series will be a contrast in styles and a battle of wills to see which team can get the other to play a style of basketball that makes them uncomfortable.
What To Watch For
Baron Davis has struggled more against Utah than any team in his career. He is a 31% shooter vs. the Jazz. Jerry Sloan must have a pretty good idea on how to slow down the Warriors most important player. Deron Williams can match Baron’s size, Derek Fisher plays physical defense and Sloan insists on physical play. Watch for Matt Harpring, Jarron Collins and others to use really physical tactics on Baron, sending him to the foul line and seeing if they can get under his skin and make him retaliate.
Carlos Boozer is a very difficult cover for the Warriors on defense. He is outstanding on the block, has a nice mid-range jumper, is a good foul shooter and a physical rebounder. Al Harrington must have a bounce-back series if he gets paired up with Boozer. Andris Biedrins has to stay out of foul trouble and use quickness and length on Boozer’s brawn. You might even see Josh Powell before the series is over.
Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur make up an imposing front line for Utah.
The Warriors have to hit their 3’s. The Jazz want to manhandle any Warriors that get near the rim but I do think Monta Ellis, Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson will be able to drive the ball. Once they draw the Jazz defenders, they should be able to kick it out to perimeter shooters. The Warriors have to hit those outside shots.
Golden State must stop Mehmet Okur early. If he starts slow, he is usually a non-factor. If he hits his first few shots, he never cools off. The Warriors can’t let him get going.
Monta Ellis is huge for the Warriors. He will likely defend Deron Williams to give Baron Davis a break. But Monta will likely be guarded by Derek Fisher. Ellis has a quickness advantage and will need to provide the Warriors with an extra scorer in this series.
The Warriors will look to get a split in Utah. Sounds simple enough, except that Utah has had one of the great homecourt advantages in the NBA over the past few decades. The building is loud, fans are incredibly partisan and Jerry Sloan is a commanding sideline presence. If the Warriors start raining 3’s and quieting the crowd, an upset is possible. A road win in Utah would put the Jazz in a tough spot. You have to like the Warriors at ORACLE Arena. I don’t think there is a better homecourt advantage in the NBA.
Jerry Sloan vs. Don Nelson. Two legendary coaches. The longest tenured head coach in all of pro sports vs. the oldest coach in the NBA. Don Nelson had a strategic edge over Avery Johnson in Round 1. That edge should be much closer against Utah.
Players To Watch
For the Warriors it has to be Monta Ellis and Al Harrington. Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson, Matt Barnes and Andris Biedrins have all played very well in the post-season. If Ellis and Harrington play to their capabilities, the Warriors could present Utah some major problems.
For Utah, Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur are the wild cards. When they play well, Utah is among the best teams in the NBA. Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams are playing at a very high level. Matt Harpring is the toughest bulldog in the NBA. The Warriors have to match his intensity, without technical fouls or getting frustrated with his physical tactics. Paul Millsap is a relentless rebounder. Offensive rebounds can be flat out demoralizing and Utah is among the best teams in the league in this department.
There are only 8 teams left that can win an NBA championship. The Warriors are one of those teams. They have achieved the biggest upset in NBA playoff history. Can this run continue? We’ll find out over the next two weeks.
After practicing and talking to the media on Sunday, the Warriors headed to the airport to board their flight for Salt Lake City.
Preparing for this flight was a bit different than normal in that Warriors players, coaches and traveling staff weren't sure where they'd be going until late last night. Plans had to be made to travel to both Houston and Utah once the Rockets-Jazz series was forced to go seven games. And although this may have made things just a little more difficult to plan, no one was complaining. Such is the life for a team in the NBA Playoffs.
Upon arrival, the team will check into their hotel, eat dinner and get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow brings morning shootaround, and then Game 1 of the Warriors-Jazz Western Conference Semifinals. Once again, the game begins at 7:30 p.m. (PST) and will be broadcast on TNT.
J-Rich and the Warriors are mentally preparing themselves for another grueling series.
The Warriors held practice once again today, and will soon depart for Salt Lake City. The team's series with the Jazz begins tomorrow night, and the players and coaches are all ready to get back to work.
Prior to leaving for the airport, Baron Davis, Stephen Jackson, Jason Richardson, Andris Biedrins and Don Nelson spoke with reporters about the upcoming series. To listen to what they had to say, visit our Multimedia Page.
We will be back with more details, plus photos from the team's trip to the aiprort later today.
For a complete schedule of the upcoming series, read our previous entry.
Warriors WIll Meet Jazz in Western Conference Semifinals
Warriors - Jazz Series Schedule
Game 1 - Monday, May 7
at Utah, 7:30 p.m. TV: TNT Radio: TBD
Game 2 - Wednesday, May 9
at Utah, 6:00 p.m. TV: TNT Radio: TBD
Game 3 - Friday, May 11
ORACLE Arena, 6:00 p.m. TV: ESPN Radio: TBD
Game 4 - Sunday, May 13
ORACLE ARENA, 6:00 p.m. TV: TNT Radio: TBD
Game 5 - Tuesday, May 15
at Utah, TBD TV: TNT Radio: TBD if necessary
Game 6 - Thursday, May 17
ORACLE Arena, TBD TV: ESPN Radio: TBD if necessary
Game 7 - Sunday, May 20
at Utah, TBD TV: TBD Radio: TBD if necessary
*All Times Pacific
Anxiously waiting to find out who they would be playing in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Warriors were kept in suspense all night. The Jazz and Rockets played a thrilling Game 7 that came down to the game's final seconds, with Utah prevailing 103-99.
The Warriors will practice tomorrow morning in Oakland before heading out for Salt Lake City. Their series with the Jazz will begin on Monday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m. For a complete schedule of the series, see the table to the right. To find out how to get tickets to the upcoming games at ORACLE Arena, click here.
Taking a quick glance at the upcoming match-up, the series is sure to be another good one. The Warriors and Jazz split their four meetings this season, with each team going 2-0 at home. The Warriors small-ball, run-n-gun style will be contrasted by Utah's grind-it-out, methodical approach. Containing Utah's imposing front line will be a key factor for Golden State, and you can be sure that Nellie and his staff already have a plan on how to do just that.
We'll be back with much more tomorrow, including a completely new Warriors Playoff Central dedicated to the upcoming series. Check back for updates from tomorrow's practice and flight, plus match-up breakdowns and analysis, multimedia, and much more.
After having the entire day off on Friday, the Warriors got back to work on Saturday. The team held practice at their facility in Downtown Oakland and started making preparations for the Western Conference Semifinals.
Today's practice was a bit different in that the Warriors still aren't sure who they will meet in the next round. The winner of tonight's Game 7 between the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets will move on to meet the Warriors beginning on Monday, May 7. Being that the Warriors are not sure of which team they're playing, or even where they will be flying tomorrow, they did not go through any scout team preparations. Instead, they put more focus on their own plans, which is more Coach Nelson's style anyway. The master of exploiting mismatches, Nellie would rather make his opponent alter their style than to make any changes to how his team plays.
That is not to say, however, that the Warriors are unprepared. Nellie's coaching staff has up-to-date scouting reports ready for each team, and the players are mentally prepared for either opponent. The coaching staff is getting together tonight to watch the Jazz/Rockets game, while the entire team is also meeting up to watch the game and the Oscar De La Hoya - Floyd Mayweather fight. And if you are watching the game tonight, make sure to watch Baron and J-Rich at halftime with the TNT crew.
Prior to today's practice, the Warriors went through a short session with the media. The team once again displayed how loose they keep things when Mickael Pietrus took over our camera and began asking his teammates and coaches to strike a pose. Always ready to make people laugh, M.P. had the entire team busting up. Take a look at some of his pictures in the photo gallery above.
The Warriors will practice again tomorrow morning before departing for either Houston or Salt Lake City. Check back on Sunday for photos from the airport, plus a brand new Warriors Playoff Central focusing on the upcoming series.
Check Out Baron and J-Rich with Snoop On Late Night With Conan O'Brien Tonight
Here's a shot Baron and J-Rich took with Snoop Dogg prior to their taping of tonight's Late Night With Conan O'Brien. Conan has been filming his show from San Francisco all week, and he's made reference to the Warriors throughout his shows. After the Warriors clinched last night, it made perfect sense to get two of their stars on as guests. They'll join Snoop, who sat courtside at last night's game.
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I was a little surprised about how quickly the Mavs stopped playing in the third quarter, but I will say that ORACLE Arena was louder than anything I’ve heard before, so that had to be a little unnerving.
Everyone was checking the celebs in the house, but two of the best centers of all time were also in attendance, in the shape of the Bay Area’s Bill Russell and the legendary Bob Lanier, a former Warriors head coach who once played for Nellie in Milwaukee.
It was amazing how many people were hugging and high-fiving complete strangers last night. If you were there, I’m sure you will never forget it.
Monta Ellis and Al Harrington should get going in the conference semifinals, and that will allow Nellie to play his eight-man rotation. It is kind of scary, if you think about it, that they beat Dallas without having a great series from either one.
I am so happy for our fans for being great NBA and Warriors supporters for all these years. I am happy for owner Chris Cohan, who gives people the chance and the tools to do their jobs well, as well as for President Robert Rowell all of the front office staff. It's these people who handle all the jobs that you don’t see on the court that make the organization go.
Perhaps no NBA player is playing better than Baron Davis right now.
UTAH OR HOUSTON
Who would you rather see the Warriors play next, the Jazz or the Rockets?
E-mail me your answer and any questions. Speaking of which …
QUESTION — Tim,
Great job during the series. I love listening to the highlights on KNBR! Anyhow, I was wondering, where do you put Stephen Jackson’s performance in recent playoff history?
Chris in Alameda
I think his effort, along with Baron playing on one leg last night, set the tone for one of the greatest nights in Warriors history. It definitely goes down as one of the top playoff moments in recent NBA history. One other thing, NO ONE is playing better than Baron in the league right now and no one means more to their team. Thanks,
Why did Don Nelson start Andris Biedrins for Game 3 after keeping him on the bench for the prior two games? Also, is he going to continue to start Andris from now on?
Thanks and Go Warriors,
The switch to Andris was predicated on Al Harrington struggling from the field. It worked out in Games 3 and 4 and in Game 5, Al showed signs of coming out of his slump. I believe he will continue to start Andris for the remainder of the playoffs.
Thanks for the e-mail,
Although today is officially an off-day for the Warriors, both Baron Davis and Don Nelson still came to the team's practice facility in Downtown Oakland to speak with the media. Among the topics discussed were the series with Dallas, obviously, and the celebration that followed last night's victory.
Coach Nelson's celebration was one to remember, and one that caught his wife off guard. Instead of just having a small group over last night like the Mrs. expected, the Nelsons hosted a group of about 50 people, including some players, at their Oakland home after last night's memorable win. The last guest didn't leave until the early hours of this morning, and the excitement of the entire night had Nellie unable to sleep. Needless to say, both Nellie and his "schmoes" needed some rest after not only last night, but the entire Dallas series that took its toll both physically and emotionally.
Both Nellie and Baron made sure to thank the fans yet again for their incredible support during the series.
Said Nelson, "The fans help our team more than any other team i've ever coached. Those three games were some of the loudest games i've ever been associated with."
Baron commended the fans for their loyalty, saying, "They've grown to the point that they're the best fans in the league. Our fans make this basketball team who it is."
And when asked about how dangerous the Warriors are going to be in the Western Conference Semifinals, Baron simply stated, "We're as dangerous as we want to be."
In addition to speaking with the local scribes, Baron also filmed separate segments that will air on ESPN's "Pardon The Interruption" and "SportsCenter." And we know you're thinking this, and the answer is no, Monta Ellis did not appear out of the woodwork and get Baron in the face with a shaving cream pie.
No words can properly describe what happened at ORACLE Arena tonight. We're still not even sure what happened. We need more time to soak it all in.
In any case, it can't be denied - the Warriors have advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals after completing an amazing, captivating, exciting, hard-fought, historic 4-2 series victory over the Mavericks.
By now you probably know that the Warriors are the first 8-seed to ever defeat the 1-seed in a best-of-seven series. But this series was more than that. The endless storylines relating to each team provided so much drama that it's hard to keep up with it all. The Warriors made the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, but they played like perennial contenders. The Mavericks nearly won the NBA Championship last season, but they looked overmatched for much of the series. Don Nelson was coaching against the team he helped put together, and a coach whom he mentored. The Warriors were the only team the Mavs did not defeat during their 67-15 regular season. And so on and so on.
One of the best things to come out of the series was the recognition of Warriors fans as some of the best in the entire NBA. The Warriors Faithful have been dedicated through good times and bad, and they deserve credit for helping give the Warriors such a huge homecourt advantage during this series. The players know exactly how important their fans are, and they showed their appreciation tonight not only with a 25-point win, but by acknowledging them throughout the game, and then coming back onto the court following the game decked out in their own 'We Believe' shirts.
So much more will be written and said about this series, so we're going to leave it at that for tonight. We'll be back with much more coverage over the next few days. Remember that the Warriors will play the winner of the Houston Rockets-Utah Jazz series, and that the series will begin on Monday, May 7 in either Houston or Salt Lake City.
Until then, KEEP BELIEVING
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