Jackson: 'The best team will win; that's the way it works'

Jackson: 'The best team will win; that's the way it works'
April 18, 2013, 6:00 pm
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We'll find out. I hope so.
—Andrew Bogut on whether or not he'll be effective

OAKLAND -- As Golden State prepares for its second playoff appearance in the last 19 years, coach Mark Jackson was willing to make one not-so-bold prediction Thursday.

"The best team will win," he said. "That's the way it works out."

Jackson frequently cites the standings as the best way to indicate superiority, but with the playoffs set to begin, he's shifted gears to prove his own 'better record equals better team' rule is inaccurate. At least that would seem to be the case if No. 6-seeded Golden State were to upset No. 3 Denver.

"The best team will win," Jackson said again. "Every series I've ever been apart of, the best team has won."

For the Warriors (47-35) to be that team, they'll need to figure out how to solve the Nuggets' home-court dominance. Denver was 38-3 at home during the regular season, carries a 23-game home winning streak and has potentially the greatest home-court advantage in the NBA: altitude.

Warriors center Andrew Bogut is all too familiar with playing at elevation having played collegiately at Utah. He said there's no doubt it plays a significant role.

"Especially against the teams down south," he said. "We definitely used that as an advantage and we noticed a lot of teams at Utah, when they came up to play us -- especially with our campus being on a hill -- didn't like the altitude."

The Warriors' decision to fly to Denver on Thursday, a day earlier than usual, was partially impacted by their need to acclimate to the altitude before Saturday's series opener.

Is there anything else the team can do to help adjust?

"Train in the atmosphere," Bogut joked. "It makes a difference, but it's not a be-all, end-all either."

Jackson played in Denver for half a season and also acknowledged it'll make a difference, but like Bogut, he's not ready call it the only factor in Denver's NBA-best home record.

"We're still playing against a very good basketball team that is exceptional at home and is well coached," Jackson said.

Away from home, the Nuggets weren't the same team. They finished the regular season 19-22 on the road, but improved dramatically as the season went along. Denver won eight of its final 11 games on the road after snapping a four-game road losing streak on Feb. 23.

Jackson, Karl former ESPN colleagues

Jackson and Denver coach George Karl were colleagues for a year as ESPN and spent several weekends discussing -- and arguing about -- basketball.

Their time as colleagues allowed Jackson to develop an even deeper respect for the last man not named Don Nelson to take the Warriors to the playoffs (1986-87).

"He's a guy that's been consistent," Jackson said. "He's won everywhere he's been. He's a basketball lifer and he gets the most out of his players."

This will be Karl's 22nd trip to the postseason as a head coach.

Bogut: Playoffs no time to worry about health

Bogut did not appear in any of the four games against Denver this season and wouldn't have been at full strength for the playoffs even before an ankle injury kept him out of two of the final three games of the season.

Is he ready to contribute effectively in a series expected to be played at an up-tempo pace?

"We'll find out," Bogut said. "I hope so."

Not exactly a reassuring answer for Warriors fans, but he said he's confident he can help on the boards and provide a presence in the paint -- two missing components against the Nuggets during the regular season.

"It definitely helped my ankle to get some rest," Bogut said. "But the playoffs are no time to worry about my ankle or myself."

He had two points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocks in 17 minutes in the regular-season finale against Portland.

Notes

- Golden State last qualified for the playoffs as a No. 6 seed in the 1993-94 playoffs and were swept in three games by the Suns.

- Harrison Barnes stacked up well against his rookie class statistically this year. He ranked No. 5 in scoring (9.2 ppg), 10th in rebounding (4.1 rpg) and 10th in field-goal percentage (.439). He started the second most games among all rookies, behind just Portland's Damian Lillard.

- Andris Biedrins was present for the team's shootaround Thursday after skipping the team's trip to Portland due to lower back tightness.

- Bogut was one of five players in the NBA to average more than 2.0 assists and 1.50 blocks.

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