The top-seeded Golden State Warriors face the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz in the Western Conference Semifinals.
After sweeping the Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors have advanced to the Western Conference Semifinals where they’ll take on the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz, beginning with Game 1 at Oracle Arena on Tuesday.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES
Golden State prevailed in two of their three regular season matchups with the Jazz, and have won 10 of the last 13 meetings between the two teams.
12/8/16 at Utah: Warriors 106, Jazz 99
The Jazz scored the first four points of the game, but Golden State responded with a 25-1 run and never looked back. Four of Utah’s traditional starters missed the game due to injury, including their top three scorers. Game Recap
12/20/16 at Golden State: Warriors 104, Jazz 74
Stephen Curry single-handedly scored as many points (25) as the entire Jazz starting lineup, as Golden State dealt Utah their largest margin of defeat this season. Gordon Hayward played his only game against the Warriors this year and was limited to just six points. Game Recap
4/10/17 at Golden State: Jazz 105, Warriors 99
With the number one overall seed already wrapped up, Steve Kerr rested his starters in the fourth quarter as the Jazz brought an end to Golden State’s 14-game winning streak. George Hill tallied a team-high 20 points for Utah in his only appearance against the Warriors this season. Game Recap
MATCHUP AT A GLANCE
Regular Season Ranks in Parenthesis
1st in West
115.9 PPG (1st)
44.4 RPG (7th)
30.4 APG (1st)
5th in West
100.7 PPG (28th)
43.2 RPG (19th)
20.1 APG (28th)
GSW: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia
UTA: George Hill, Joe Ingles, Gordon Hayward, Boris Diaw and Rudy Gobert
INJURY & ROSTER NOTES
GSW: TBD. Team Notes
UTA: TBD. Team Notes
UTAH SCOUTING REPORT
Whereas the Warriors’ first round opponent was known for their offense, the Utah Jazz stand out on the defensive end of the floor. They limited their opponents to an average of 96.8 points per game in the regular season (best in the NBA), and posted the third-best defensive rating in the league behind only the Spurs and Warriors. Rudy Gobert is at the center of everything they do defensively, and in addition to being one of the leading candidates for Defensive Player of the Year, he’s developed into an offensive weapon as well, as evidenced by his career-best 14.0 points per game. You won’t find two more polar opposite teams when it comes to pace of play than the Warriors and Jazz, as Golden State played at the fourth-fastest pace in the league in the regular season, while Utah operated at the absolute slowest. Whichever side is able to enforce their pace of play on the other will likely significantly improve their own chances at advancing to the next round.
PTS: Curry (25.3)
REB: Durant (8.3)
AST: Green (7.0)
PTS: Hayward (21.9)
REB: Gobert (12.8)
AST: Hill (4.2)
MATCHUP TO WATCH
The two sides are similar in that they both have All-Stars and candidates for Defensive Player of the Year, but they also both possess savvy veterans that they turn to in crunch time. Andre Iguodala may not start for Golden State, but he’s out there when the game is on the line, and his all-around impact on the Warriors for the last several seasons has been undeniable. Similarly, Joe Johnson comes off the bench for the Jazz, and he’s stepped up in a major way in the postseason. After averaging 9.2 points per game in the regular season, Johnson upped that number to 15.7 points per game in their seven-game first round victory over the Clippers, and knocked down two game-winning shots in that series. ‘Iso Joe’, as he’s referred to, has been known for his ability to make clutch shots throughout his career, while Iguodala himself has also displayed a flare for the dramatic. Ironically, the two veterans may end up matched up against one another in the final minutes, and if either player has the ball in his hands with the clock winding down, the opposing fan base should rightfully hold their collective breath.