I think most of us expected that the Golden State Warriors would head to Utah in search of a four-game winning streak. Instead, after a dispirited and disappointing blowout loss to the New York Knicks, they head east in search of a one-game winning streak.
And it won’t be an easy one.
Who: Golden State Warriors (8-7) vs. Utah Jazz (11-4)
When: 6:00 p.m. PT
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: NBC Sports Bay Area
Projected starting lineups:
Warriors: Stephen Curry, Kelly Oubre Jr., Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green, James Wiseman
Jazz: Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neal, Bojan Bogdanović, Rudy Gobert
Warriors: Lost to the Knicks 119-104 — 2-3 in their last 5 games
Jazz: Beat the Pelicans 129-118 — 5-0 in their last 5 games
Team ratings (garbage-time adjusted, per Cleaning the Glass):
Warriors: 107.3 offense (23rd), 109.9 defense (12th), -2.6 net (20th)
Jazz: 115.0 offense (7th), 106.8 defense (5th), +8.2 net (2nd)
How do you recover from a rough home loss to a not very good team? Well, a road contest with one of the best teams in basketball is certainly a formidable challenge.
The Warriors have had one of the toughest schedules in the NBA thus far, and it’s reared its head with ugly losses to really good teams. There was the blowout loss to the Brooklyn Nets, and the blowout loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, and the blowout loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
A win will wash the bulk of the Knicks stank off their jerseys, but a loss will serve as a firm reminder that the Warriors are mediocre until they can prove otherwise.
Players to watch
Warrior to watch: Draymond Green.
I’m guessing Green is pretty pissed off following Thursday’s game. The Warriors came out flat. They didn’t play good defense. They got blown out by a not very good team. And he got ejected for having the audacity to coach his teammate during the game.
We know that Green excels when there’s a chip on his shoulder. He’ll be angry for the ejection. He’ll be upset that the team played so flat and with lackluster defense. He’ll want to make a statement.
Jazz player to watch: Donovan Mitchell.
Mitchell is building off of his first — and certainly not last — All-Star campaign, and blossoming into a bonafide star. He can score from anywhere on the court, in any way. He’s an at-times mesmerizing passer, and capable of making highlight defensive plays.
He’s still young, and still prone to making poor decisions and having very inefficient games. But he is a star, and the Jazz will go as far as he takes them — right now that seems to be pretty far.
Matchup to watch: Steph Curry vs. Mike Conley.
We don’t always get to see Curry really matched up with an opposing point guard, especially a good one, but I’m guessing we do tonight. Kelly Oubre Jr. will likely match up with Mitchell, and Andrew Wiggins will take Royce O’Neal. That leaves Conley and Curry to cover each other.
Both veterans are crafty offensive players who employ unique tempos and movements. Both seem to enjoy playing defense. It should be fun to watch.
Keys to victory
- Hold Donovan Mitchell to a poor or average efficiency night
- Don’t get destroyed on the glass by Rudy Gobert
- Let Steph Curry cook and cook and cook
- Get at least 12 three-pointers from the role players
Get back in the win column, Dubs.