The big news is Peja Stojakovic will return tonight. According to Byron Scott, he should get about 20-25 minutes off the bench. I will consider tonight a success if Peja is healthy at the end of the night; for now, I don't really care how he shoots. As long as he can build up some strength over these next few games, he can once again be an invaluable piece. There's still no word on Tyson Chandler, though Chandler did blog this week that his cast has been removed. The Times-Pic also reported that TC could return for the final three games.
Anyways, the Warriors are something of a mess right now. That said, they're still a very capable offensive team (10th in offensive efficiency). If we fail to close out on shooters, this could turn into a bad night in a hurry. The Dubs also have Monta Ellis back in the mix and playing well. He had a scary moment against Sacramento on Wednesday but otherwise appears to be fine. Stephen Jackson is out for the year, but that could actually be a bad thing for us. Instead of Jackson firing up ill advised threes at a 33% clip, they now have Kelenna Azuibuike, who not only shoots very smart threes, but also connects on 45% of his looks.
The key to coralling GSW's high key offense is to stop them from getting to the line. Currently the league's 3rd best free throw taking attack, the Dubs' foul drawing is led by Corey Maggette (9.4 FTA/36). Nobody else is close to that, but some other key players- Crawford, Randolph, and Wright- all average in the 3-4 range. That puts the onus big time on Hilton Armstrong tonight. He could either be in for a terrible night or he could take a big step forward defensively. We've seen him make significant strides on the offensive end, so I have some confidence.
Defensively, Golden State allows opponents to shoot great percentages, doesn't force turnovers, and fouls more than average. Most importantly, they are the worst defensive rebounding team in the NBA by a good margin (Interestingly, 3 of the bottom 5 and 5 of the bottom 11 defensive rebounding teams reside in the Pacific Division). So I expect Julian Wright to have a big impact on this game, given his high offensive rebounding totals of late. Go Hornets.