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OAKLAND -- As the Jazz begin their final two-game push to move up in the Western Conference after returning from a three-day break, they'll head to Oakland Tuesday night to try to knock off the Warriors for the final time this season.
After dropping back to the No. 5 spot with their loss to the Rockets April 7, the Jazz managed to climb back up to No. 4 as they beat the Hornets Friday night in New Orleans. As every team will be attempting to improve their postseason position this week, the Jazz will have to come mean and aggressive to finish out the regular season with success.
Utah's final two games are a back-to-back set with the Warriors and Suns, with the results of the latter potentially setting the tone for the first round of the playoffs. The Jazz need to build as much momentum as they can, and a win Tuesday night would go a long way to prepare for Phoenix.
KSL takes a look back and ahead as we prep for the game against the Warriors.What did we learn about the Jazz against the New Orleans Hornets?
- Deron Williams delivered another incredible performance in Friday's 114-103 win as he posted 27 points and 16 assists, but the Jazz found themselves in trouble late in the game as the Hornets fought hard to come back from a once 21-point deficit. As the game clock wound down to the final minutes, Williams again came through for the Jazz as he stepped back behind the arc and nailed the three-pointer that set the tone for the remained of the game.
- Rookie Wesley Matthews had a confidence-building game as well, racking up 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. With Mehmet Okur and Andrei Kirilenko both out with injuries, Matthews got a few more touches than normal and was successful in filling in where the Jazz lacked their missing starters' presence. With Matthews' first round of the playoffs right around the corner, games like Friday's will likely go a long way in terms of mental preparation.
What can the Jazz expect from the Warriors?
- The Warriors, although out of the playoff picture for 2010, recently did the Jazz a small favor by claiming a huge upset win over the Thunder, who are now in a two-way tie for seventh place in the West. The more room the Jazz can get from lower-half teams before the start of the postseason the better, in the case that things don't fair so well these next two games.
- Like many teams the Jazz have met with recently, the Warriors are just looking to shake things up in the standings before their regular season comes to a close. They've got to be feeling good after beating the Thunder, and the Jazz will, again, need to take the game as serious as they would if they were playing an upper Western Conference team.
- Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry teamed up and dominated the back court in the Warriors' 120-117 win over Oklahoma City, combining for 52 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Defending the perimeter hasn't been Utah's strongest area on the floor in the past few weeks, but trying to quiet the play of Ellis and Curry will be good practice for their meeting with Steve Nash and the Suns in their regular season closer Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Probable Jazz starting lineup
- C - Paul Millsap, 6-8, 250 lbs., Louisiana Tech
- PF - Carlos Boozer, 6-9, 260 lbs., Duke
- SF - C.J. Miles, 6-6, 227 lbs., Skyline HS (Dallas, TX)
- SG - Wesley Matthews, 6-5, 220 lbs., Marquette
- PG - Deron Williams, 6-3, 207 lbs., Illinois
Probable Warriors starting lineup
- C - Ronny Turiaf, 6-10, 250 lbs., Gonzaga
- PF - Corey Maggette, 6-6, 225 lbs., Duke
- SF - Anthony Tolliver, 6-9, 243 lbs., Creighton
- SG - Monta Ellis, 6-3, 180 lbs., Lanier HS (MS)
- PG - Stephen Curry, 6-3, 185 lbs., Davidson
Monta Ellis, 25.5 ppg, 5.3 apg / Corey Maggette, 19.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg
Jazz Injury Updates
- Andrei Kirilenko - (calf) Questionable
- Mehmet Okur - (Achilles') Questionable
Warriors Injury Updates
- Vladimir Radmanovic - (Achilles') OUT
- Anthony Randolph - (ankle) OUT
- Brandon Wright - (shoulder) OUT
- Kelenna Azubuike - (leg) OUT
- C.J. Watson - (rib) OUT
- Andrei Biedrins - (abdominal) OUT
The Jazz know as well as any other team in the Western Conference that the way they wrap up their regular season schedule is as crucial as it's been in any previous season as the race for standing improvement continues. They've got just one more road game to prepare for the hostile environment of an opponent's home court, one more game in Salt Lake City to fuel the fire for postseason excitement, and are a just a half game behind the Nuggets who currently own the No. 3 spot in the West.