Jazz Need More Than These Factors to Upset the Warriors
The NBA Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors are well rested to start round two against the Utah Jazz. The Warriors won their first round in a four game sweep against the eight seed Portland Trailblazers. The Jazz defeated the LA Clippers in a game seven to win that first round series.
The Warriors know the Jazz will be a problem in some areas of matchups and other factors to be considered a viable threat.
The Jazz big man in the middle is Rudy Gobert. He has some nagging injuries to limit his playing time. But if he is near 100% healthy, the big man can be a force inside with no Warriors to matchup with him. Gobert averaged 16 points and 17 boards in three regular games against the Warriors. His defensive force in the paint will cause problems for Curry and Thompson trying to use the lanes if they are not hitting their outside shots. The low post belongs to Gobert and this one major mismatch pushes the Warriors to find other ways to win. Betting the Warriors at home will always be a double digit spread of 12 to 14 points, which is a lot points for a playoff game — but it is the Warriors and they will cover at home.
Another major factor for the Jazz is if they can win that one game at Golden State. There confidence level would help to overcome any fear playing the Warriors. You can beat the Warriors for three quarters but they can find their scoring strength at any time and zoom right past any team with a lead in the fourth quarter. A confidence builder is very helpful but at the same time a 24 to 6 point run by the Warriors can deflate your bubble.
While Curry and Thompson are the best back court players in the league, they have struggled at times in the post season. Better defensive play from opposing teams will affect both players looking to find that shooting grove. A little inconsistent shooting percentage will be a factor for the Warriors. Can the Warriors overcome poor shooting and rely on their supporting cast. They need Durant to play a more significant role in this second round.
Utah played the best home defense in the league allowing only 95.3 points against visiting teams.
Another factor favoring the Jazz is their unknown players who are now recognized for their team play especially on defense. Derrick Favors will help the Jazz matchup with the bench strength of the Warriors. He can go against Draymond Green when the Warriors use their power forward at center. Favors is 6 feet 10 inches and 250 pounds which is 3 inches bigger than Green and 30 more pounds of bulk.
A surprising factor for the Jazz is their Aussie player Joe Ingles at the three spot. He will have problems with Durant but a switch to cover Thompson at times will be a good defensive strategy. Thompson is a deadly shooter over those defenders who are an inch or two below him. But Ingles is an inch over Thompson and can limit the three pointer with solid defense on the perimeter.
Can the Warriors find the right balance and perform without their head coach Steve Kerr on the sidelines. It is quite unusual to be missing your head coach to injury instead of a player. Kerr has experienced a lot of back pain from back surgery two years ago. Will his absence rally the Warriors to keep their winning ways or can this missing link affect team play. I am sure the assistant coaches will fill the gap but can little strange circumstances like this change a winning formula. A coaching strategy and influence is necessary during certain parts of a close game where timeouts need to be handled by a familiar face. Kerr does make a difference in the mental aspect of the game and his bench presence will be missed. However, the Warriors should prevail but their level of play has to overcome any distractions and move on to the next round. The Jazz will hang around and win a game or two at home but they are over matched in a best of seven series.