Golden State Warriors vs. Utah Jazz
How to watch
Date: Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Time: 7:30pm PST
Location: Oracle Arena — Oakland, CA
Radio: 95.7 THE GAME
Last updated 5/1/17
Warriors: Matt Barnes (probable); Shaun Livingston (questionable)
Who will play?
The Golden State Warriors suffered a number of injuries at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs. Matt Barnes rolled his ankle and has yet to play a game this post season. Kevin Durant returned from his knee injury only to strain his calf in in Game 1 of Round 1 against the Portland Trail Blazers. Shaun Livingston hurt his hand and finger in that same game and has been out ever since. To top it all off, Coach Steve Kerr suffered a nasty setback from his ill-fated back surgery and is out indefinitely.
Thankfully, Durant made his return during the first round and is all systems go. And Barnes is reported to be probable for tonight’s game, while Livingston is questionable.
Tonight would be the perfect game for Barnes to make his return to the bench. The last time the Warriors faced the Utah Jazz in the post season was the second round in 2007. To get there, the underdog eighth seed Warriors shocked the basketball world by toppling a powerhouse first seed Dallas Mavericks team. Despite eventually losing the second round series to the Jazz, the 2007 “We Believe” Warriors gave the Bay Area a long-awaited taste of post season success and forever endeared themselves to Warriors fans forever.
Matt Barnes was a key member of the “We Believe” Warriors, but he enters this series in completely different circumstances than in 2007. The Warriors are the heavy favorites this time around and Barnes is now a key role player for the squad. In any case, Round 2 will give Barnes, and Warriors fans, the chance to have a small taste of revenge on the road towards the Finals.
Defense wins championships
It’s a familiar saying in multiple sports. And while Round 1 gave us a match-up of potential MVPs in James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Round 2 will give us a chance to watch the two potential DPOYs, Draymond Green and Rudy Gobert.
When asked about the match-up, Green succinctly stated, “I can’t play defense against his defense. It don’t matter.”
But what Green can do — along with Durant, Barnes, Livingston, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala — is stifle Utah’s leading scorer, Gordon Hayward. There is no doubt that Hayward is an excellent player, but the Warriors have so many long defenders to throw at him that the Jazz will have to come up with other ways to score.
Utah is a slow paced, defensive team and will likely try to slog down the game against Golden State. But despite the Warriors’ reputation as a run-and-gun team, they can play the slow game if necessary. One of the many advantages of signing Durant is his ability to score in half-court sets and make something out of nothing.
Utah is good, but Golden State is better. There’s always the possibility of a sloppy start given that the Warriors haven’t played for a week. But even with the lingering health questions around the players and the head coach, Golden State should be the team that comes out victorious in Round 2.
Winner: Warriors by 11
High scorer: Stephen Curry