Home Sports Warriors Tonight: NBA West semifinals preview vs. Jazz

Warriors Tonight: NBA West semifinals preview vs. Jazz

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			Warriors Tonight: NBA West semifinals preview vs. Jazz



Game 1 Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Oracle Arena. TV: TNT. 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.


Game 2: Thursday, May 4 at Oracle Arena, 7:30 p.m. ESPN
Game 3: Saturday, May 6 at Vivint Smart Home Arena, 5:30 p.m. ABC
Game 4: Monday, May 8 at Vivint Smart Home Arena, 6 p.m. TNT
Game 5: Wednesday, May 10 at Oracle Arena, Time TBA, TNT
Game 6: Friday, May 12, at Vivint Smart Home Arena, Time TBA, ESPN
Game 7: Sunday, May 14 at Oracle Arena, Time and TV TBA


Warriors: 67-15, No. 1 in the Western Conference and the overall top seed in the NBA playoffs.
Jazz: 51-31, No. 5 in the Western Conference.


Warriors: Swept the eighth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers 4-0 in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Jazz: Defeated the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers 4-3 in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. The Jazz won three road games in the series.


Golden State won the season series 2-1. … On Dec. 8, the Warriors defeated what was left of the Jazz 106-99 in Salt Lake City. Utah played without Gordon 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 Kevin 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. … On April 10, Utah won 105-99 to end Golden State’s NBA season-high 14-game winning streak. Curry scored 28 points in three quarters as coach Steve Kerr went mostly with his reserves in the fourth quarter of a meaningless game. Klay Thompson did not play. This is the last game the Warriors have lost.


The Warriors and Jazz have faced off in the playoffs three times, with Golden State winning two series. … In 1987 the Warriors rallied to win the best-of-five first-round series 3-2. Golden State lost the first two games at the Salt Palace before winning the final three. Sleepy Floyd (20.2 points, 10.0 assists), Joe Barry Carroll (17.8 points) and Purvis Short (17.2 points) led the Warriors. … In 1989 the Warriors swept the best-of-five first-round series 3-0. Chris Mullin averaged 32.7 points for the series and Mitch Richmond 25.7. … In 2007, after stunning the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round, the eight-seeded Warriors lost to the Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals 4-1. Utah won the first two games at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, with Game 2 being an emotional 127-117 overtime thriller. Jazz reserve guard Derek Fisher, who missed Game 1 to be in New York while his young daughter had surgery for a rare form of eye cancer, made a dramatic return. He and his family landed at the airport during the game, and Fisher entered the game in the third quarter straight from the locker room to help a Utah backcourt that was depleted by injury and foul trouble. Fisher played tough defense on Baron Davis and hit a huge 3-pointer in overtime. The Warriors routed the Jazz 125-105 in Game 3 at Oracle Arena, a victory punctuated by Davis’ emphatic dunk over Andrei Kirilenko. But the Warriors couldn’t protect homecourt in Game 4 and the Jazz wrapped up the series in Game 5.


The Warriors’ Draymond Green and Utah’s Rudy Gobert are two of the top three defensive players in the league (San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard would be the other). And they can dominate in much different ways. Green can pretty much disrupt an offense from anywhere on the court, whether he is harassing opponents on the perimeter or protecting the rim. Gobert is a mobile, 7-foot-1 shot-blocking force.


The Warriors have not played a game since April 24, when they completed their four-game sweep of Portland. And you would have to go back to April 22 for the last time they were actually challenged. That would have been the first half of Game 3 before the Warriors snuffed out the Trail Blazers in the second half on their way to a 119-113 victory. So will this large gap in time since their last real competition help or hurt Golden State? Given the injuries — Durant’s calf, Shaun Livingston’s hand and Matt Barnes’ foot — the time off should have been a benefit. And being a veteran team, one would expect Golden State to be focused for Game 1. We’ll see what the long break does for Curry, who didn’t shoot well in the Portland series until going 12 for 20 (7 for 11 on 3-pointers) and scoring 37 points in the first three quarters of Game 4.


How do the Warriors and Jazz match up for this series? Hard to say, based on the regular-season meetings. The Utah team that Golden State sees tonight will be new to them. Derrick Favors, the Jazz’s best big man off the bench, missed all three games against the Warriors. He was huge off the bench Sunday in Game 7 against the Clippers with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Gobert was in foul trouble. All-Star forward Gordon Hayward, point guard George Hill and key reserve Rodney Hood each missed two games. Hill was particularly effective running the show against Los Angeles, averaging 16.9 points.


This series could come down to which team can impose its will on the other regarding the pace of play. During the regular season, the Warriors played the fourth-fastest pace in the NBA, averaging 102.2 possessions per game. Utah was dead last at 93.6 possessions per game. In the playoffs, the Warriors have ramped it up to 104.9 possessions while the Jazz has slowed to 91.8. In the first round against the Clippers, Utah showed that it could be incredibly patient on offense, running the shot clock under four seconds countless times. That’s a lot of defense the Warriors potentially will have to play.


Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who still suffers from the effects of a spinal fluid leak incurred during back surgery in the summer of 2015, will not coach Game 1 tonight and will be out indefinitely. Mike Brown coached in his place for the final two games of the Portland series. Durant, who missed Games 2 and 3 and played limited minutes in Game 4 of the Portland series because of a calf strain, is good to go and has no restrictions entering this series. Livingston is still listed as questionable because of a sprained right index finger and right hand contusion. Barnes (sprained right foot) is probable. … For Utah, Favors is listed as questionable for tonight after missing practice Monday because of lower back soreness.


The only thing that stopped Hayward in the first round of the playoffs was the sandwich that gave him food poisoning and limited him to three points and nine minutes in Game 5 against the Clippers. In the other six games, Hayward averaged 27.2 points per game.


Utah’s Joe Johnson not only averaged 15.7 points off the bench against Los Angeles, but he also hit the big shots when the Jazz needed them. Boris Diaw is a crafty a big man and clever passer who gave the Warriors problems when he played for San Antonio. But Joe Ingles is the real wild-card in this series. At 6-8, the 29-year-old Australian did a good job when he was switched out onto Clippers guards — even Chris Paul. He could possibly be a defensive factor against Thompson. Offensively, he can hit the open 3-pointer and is a deft passer.

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