While the Utah Jazz are historical underdogs against the Golden State Warriors, they aren’t slouches. Injuries derailed what would have been a 60 win team turned it into a 51 win team. That’s not dismissive of Utah clinching a playoff spot this season. It’s incredible that they made it to the playoffs despite not one 5 player lineup playing together for more than 152 minutes the entire season.
For Golden State this will both be an advantage to them and a curse. One on hand Golden State’s most used lineups have insane chemistry. Golden State’s starting lineup has played a mind-boggling 531 minutes together. That’s more than 3x the amount of minutes Utah’s most used lineup has seen the court together. On the other hand, Golden State has months worth of film to guess what Utah will throw at them.
Take the Los Angeles Clippers vs Utah Jazz series, the Utah Jazz’s most used lineup was George Hill, Joe Ingles, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, and Derrick Favors. That lineup played a combined 40 minutes over 7 games in the playoffs. Prior to the playoffs? That lineup had not played more than 36 minutes together on the court in a combined 82 games in the regular season.
So what possible lineups will we see Utah throw at Golden State? We pick our top 5.
George Hill, Joe Ingles, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, Rudy Gobert
This will most likely be the 4th quarter lineup of every game this series. This is closing time. This lineup was not used very often in the regular season nor the postseason. The regular season due to Joe Johnson filling in during injuries to Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward during the regular season. The postseason this lineup didn’t get much run because of Rudy Gobert’s injuries either to his knee, ankle, or due to being called for touch fouls against DeAndre Jordan.
This lineup during the season only played a combined 152 minutes together. This will be a difficult one to gameplan for with the lack of film available. This takes away the pre-game planning advantage of Steve Kerr and will force Mike Brown to make in game adjustments to this lineup. While this lineup isn’t Utah’s most feared defensive lineup (Def Rating of 104.0) it is an offensive counterpunch designed to get points in a sluggishly paced game. It has an OFFRTG of 109.1 while playing at a pace of 93 possessions per game. This lineup will grind out a game and execute at a high level in the halfcourt. It’s made for playoff basketball and most importantly, 4th quarter playoff basketball.
Joe Ingles, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, Rudy Gobert
This lineup will most likely get some run in this series due Quin Snyder’s lack of trust in the backup point guard position. Many here at SLC Dunk have been stalwart supporters of Dante Exum and his defensive prowess (just look at the lineup combinations and you’ll see why), but due to lack of experience with Exum he hasn’t seen the court much. That has required Quin Snyder to use the equally green Raul Neto or the much maligned Shelvin Mack.
Against the Golden State Warriors, the Utah Jazz will not be able to survive minutes with Raul Neto or Shelvin Mack at point guard. This might force Quin Snyder’s hand to go without a true point guard and provide the Jazz with superior length on the perimeter and interior. Defensively this lineup will slow down the Warriors, but without a true point guard on the court the offense could stall.
George Hill, Joe Ingles, Gordon Hayward, Boris Diaw, Rudy Gobert
This go-to starting lineup has actually been really successful for Utah. The development of Joe Ingles into a knock down 3 point shooter and lockdown defender is one no of us could have predicted at the beginning of the year. The one crux of this lineup is you live by the Bobo, die by the Bobo. This lineup can be absolutely a joy on offense because of Boris Diaw’s unique offensive skillset or it can be absolute nightmare as Diaw attempts to plays beyond his ability and crashes the offense.
This lineup in the regular season outscored by 4.7 points, but wasn’t their most efficient lineup. In the playoffs, however, playoff Bobo has come to play. This lineup has turned into a defensive juggernaut. The Clippers only scored 81.9 points per 100 possessions against this lineup. Even better this lineup breaks down the pace to only 91 possessions per game.
George Hill, Dante Exum, Gordon Hayward, Joe Ingles, Rudy Gobert
This is your all length lineup. It also is the most unproven. That hasn’t stopped Quin Snyder in the playoffs as he has been a MacGyver with substitutions somehow putting together explosive combinations with duct tape, a gum wrapper, medical tape, and 2nd rounders.
This lineup of length allows Utah to switch at every position with ease whether they are guarding Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, or Draymond Green. The problem with this lineup is offense. The Warriors can sag off of Dante Exum and play 5 on 4. Dante Exum has to be hitting from outside or getting to the line to make this work. The playoffs aren’t historically where a player who notoriously doesn’t get the respect of referees when driving the to paint suddenly gains credibility.
George Hill, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors
Joe Johnson and Rudy Gobert have got to rest sometime right? While Gordon Hayward will most likely get rest—probably for the full amount of 6 minutes a game—Joe Johnson’s hot yoga isn’t going to get him to 36 minutes played. Likewise, Rudy Gobert’s nagging injuries are going to spell Favors in this series.
Derrick Favors has played great basketball despite not looking 100%. He is questionable for Game 1 against the Warriors with a sore back. But this lineup allows Utah to switch on many possessions and still get work done on the offensive end. The length of Hill, Hood, Hayward, and Ingles allows them to pester Golden State and disrupt their offense.
Still not enough ...
Despite these lineups probably playing a big factor in this series, Utah will have to execute almost perfectly. Even if Utah plays their gameplan to perfection, shuts down Golden State, and protects homecourt in Utah, they will most likely fall to Golden State’s superior talent. But with these lineups, Utah will have a better shot than most at overcoming insurmountable odds.