Just in time for Game 2, the latest developments in the Jazz-Warriors series: The Jazz will start Thurl Bailey, Golden State Coach Don Nelson is still claiming full title to the underdog role, the Jazz are staying cool and those funny-looking Warriors are still looking awfully dangerous in a short series.
Nothing surprising, in other words.The best-of-five NBA playoff series continues tonight in the Salt Palace, as the Jazz once again try to deal with the Warriors' little-guys lineup and even the series in the wake of Thursday's upset.
The state of the Jazz? "I thought they were upbeat," Coach Jerry Sloan said after practice Friday at Westminster College. "I've always seen them as calm and very focused, and they seemed that way to me."
Nelson, meanwhile, was sticking to his pre-series story. "It still is going to take a miracle; that hasn't changed," he insisted. "This team can come back and win three straight against us easily, if we let our guard down."
C'mon, Nellie . . . "I speak the truth," he said. "Call it sandbagging if you like."
So the series resumes with the Jazz coming off a first in their rich playoff history. Never in eight previous series had they lost the first home game.
"Sure, it's a shock to lose Game 1 at home," said Mark Eaton. "They kind of snuck up and caught us. We just made the road a little more difficult for ourselves."
By losing at home, the Jazz at least avoided all the talk that would have haunted them about the 1987 Golden State series, if they'd gone to Oakland with another 2-0 lead. For consolation, they're drawing on last spring's first-round series with Portland, in which Karl Malone was held down and they lost Game1, only to come back and win the next three.
Ironically, ex-Portland coach Mike Schuler is in town with the Warriors as a scout for Nelson in a reunion of the old Milwaukee staff.
This is different than Jazz-Blazers '88, though. Even if they win tonight for an opening-weekend split, the Jazz will face elimination in Oakland next week.
"You never want to lose at home, period," admitted Darrell Griffith. "It's not so much of a shock, but a big disappointment."
Besides hoping for more out of Malone, held to 22 points in the 123-119 loss, Sloan is turning immediately to Bailey. Considering that Bailey quickly replaced Mike Brown and played 44 minutes Thursday, the change is hardly earthshaking - even if Bailey started only three games all season, with 79 off-the-bench assignments in between.
"It's a change, but really it isn't," Bailey said. "It's just a different look."
With Brown on him, Golden State's Chris Mullin started fast and never stopped on his way to 41 points. Bailey also had trouble with him, but the Jazz left other defensive holes.
"We had a tough time getting back and finding our men," Sloan said. "They've got guys who are a lot quicker getting down the floor, to begin with."
With a small lineup, big lineup or middle-sized lineup, the Warriors have to shoot well to win this series. They looked hot Thursday, but their 49-percent shooting was devastating only when combined with their 18 offensive rebounds. Forward Rod Higgins had six of those, which apparently came via secret manuevers. Pressed for a comment about his rebounding success, Higgins said, "We don't want to talk strategy right now."
As for Sloan's game plan, he figures the Jazz have learned what happens when they merely try to outscore the Warriors by shooting as soon as possible. Griffith, for one, had an early hot streak but ended up 8 of 23 from the field - dating to the '87 series, for the record, he's 20 of 64 in the Jazz's four straight losses. Griffith also had not taken 23 shots in a game since November 1987.
"We took a lot of quick shots - that was getting caught up in their game," noted Griffith. "I think everybody was guilty of that."
According to the Sloan Theory, those early shots led to fast breaks for the Warriors, who took advantage on the other end.
Even in a halfcourt game, the Warriors can spread the Jazz defense by bringing Eaton out to guard his man and by hitting outside shots. And Nelson says they're not living and dying on the jump shots. "If they shut down the outside," he reasons, "the drive has to be there."
So the Warriors will try again to outgun the Jazz, while Ralph Sampson watches. Three knee operations aside, who would have imagined three years ago that Manute Bol would be ahead of Sampson in any team's center rotation? "When we go to the small lineup, (Sampson) is the third center," said Nelson. "Sometimes, you don't get to that chair he's sitting in."
That's this series for you.