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Warriors tonight: 10 Things about the Jazz game

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			Warriors tonight: 10 Things about the Jazz game

 

1. THE BASICS

Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. Monday at Oracle Arena. TV: NBC Sports Bay Area (formerly CSN Bay Area). Radio: KGMZ 95.7 “The Game” in Oakland and San Francisco, KRTY 95.3 in San Jose, KUIC 95.3 in Solano County, KION 1460 and 101.1 in Salinas and Monterey.

2. THE RECORDS

Warriors: 66-14, No. 1 in the Western Conference. Golden State has clinched homecourt advantage throughout the NBA playoffs.
Jazz: 49-31, tied for No. 4 in the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Clippers.

3. WHAT HAVE THEY DONE LATELY?

Warriors: Defeated New Orleans 123-101 on Saturday night at Oracle Arena as Kevin Durant made his return from a knee injury suffered Feb. 28. The victory was Golden State’s 14th in a row, the longest winning streak in the NBA this season.
Jazz: Lost to Portland 101-86 on Saturday night as the Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard scored a franchise-record 59 points. Lillard, an Oakland native, topped the previous record of 54 set by Damon Stoudamire in 2005. He made nine 3-pointers. Gordon Hayward scored 21 to lead the Jazz.

4. PREVIOUS MEETINGS

The Warriors lead the season series 2-0. … On Dec. 8, the Warriors defeated what was left of the Jazz 106-99 in Salt Lake City. Utah played without Hayward, Derrick Favors, George Hill, Rodney Hood and Alec Burks. The Jazz led 4-0 before the Warriors went on a 29-1 run. … On Dec. 20, Golden State overcame a horrid first quarter to easily defeat the Jazz 104-74. How ugly was that period? The Warriors uncharacteristically shot 26.9 percent (7 for 26) to lead 19-15 after one quarter. Their first points didn’t come until the 8:34 mark when Stephen Curry made two free throws. Their first field goal came with 7:54 left on a dunk by Durant. With 4:53 to go — more than half-way through the quarter! — Durant made two free throws to extend the Warriors’ lead to 8-5.

5. BACK IN ACTION

Durant had 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in his return Saturday against the Pelicans. He appeared rusty in the first half, but seemed to regain a bit of his shooting touch in the second. His rebounding and defense were solid in his 31 minutes of work, which was a little more playing time than many expected.

6. PLAYOFF PREVIEW?

If the Warriors and Jazz win their first-round series, they would meet in the Western Conference semifinals. Utah will play the Los Angeles Clippers in the opening round, and the teams are locked in a battle for homecourt advantage for their series. If the teams finish tied for No. 4 in the West, the Clippers would hold homecourt by virtue of their 3-1 edge over Utah in the head-to-head season series. Utah’s remaining games are at Golden State and at home against San Antonio on Wednesday. The Clippers finish with home games against Houston tonight and Sacramento on Wednesday.

7. BENCH BOUNCES BACK

After an off-night against Phoenix, the Warriors’ reserves played well against New Orleans. Perhaps Andre Iguodala’s return from a one-game absence had something to do with it. When Iguodala sat out the Suns game for rest, Golden State’s bench seem a bit out of sorts, especially when it came to defense and ball movement. On Saturday — with an entire fourth quarter of garbage time — the bench totaled 58 points with 17 assists. Iguodala (15 points, five rebounds, five assists) Ian Clark (17 points) and JaVale McGee (16 points, seven rebounds) were the major contributors.

8. ALL-AROUND FORCE

Rudy Gobert has become more than just a defensive presence since the last time the Warriors saw him. The 7-foot-1 Jazz center has stepped up his game, especially on offense, since the All-Star break with 16.8 points per game on 71.5-percent shooting. He also is averaging 13.1 rebounds and 3.14 blocks during that span. For the season, Gobert leads the league in blocked shots (2.67) and is fourth in rebounding (12.8).

9. CHANGING OF THE GUARDS

Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson might miss tonight’s game for some rest. But Golden State is expected to get back point guard Stephen Curry, who missed the New Orleans game because of a left knee contusion.

10. BRING ON PORTLAND

With Denver’s crushing 105-104 loss to Oklahoma City on Sunday, Portland clinched the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and will face the Warriors in the first round of the playoffs. The Trail Blazers (40-40) lead the Nuggets (38-42) by two games with two remaining, but Portland owns the head-to-head tiebreaker after winning the season series against Denver 3-1. The Nuggets could have stayed alive Sunday, but the Thunder’s Russell Westbrook had 50 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists for his NBA-record 42nd triple-double of the season. His 3-pointer at the buzzer eliminated the Nuggets.

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