The Golden State Warriors are a formidable foe. They out-gun most teams in the NBA on pure star power. Normally, this would be terrible news for the 8th-seed Utah Jazz, who are just a game ahead of the 9th-seed Denver Nuggets in a playoff race that is really going down to the wire. However, the Jazz may have gotten a break. The Warriors’ big four of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green are all listed as out for tonight’s game for varying injuries. You never wish injuries on other teams, basketball is more fun to watch when the best players in the league face off; regardless, these things happen, and it is an opportunity the Jazz cannot pass up.
When: Sunday, May 25, 6:30pm MT
Where: ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA
TV: AT&T Sportsnet - Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Raul Neto - Wrist (Out)
Thabo Sefolosha - (Out for season)
Tony Bradley - Concussion (Game-time decision)
Golden State Warriors:
Draymond Green - Illness (Out until March 27)
Patrick McCaw - Back (Game-time decision)
Kevin Durant - Ribs (Out)
Steph Curry - Knee (Out)
Omri Casspi - Ankle (Game-time decision)
Klay Thompson - Thumb (Out)
What to watch for?
Home court advantage
ORACLE Arena is a tough place to find a win. The Warriors are 28-8 at home. Granted, they weren’t as injured for those 36 gamesas they are tonight, but the point still stands. The Warriors’ bench hasn’t been as consistently good as they would hope this season, so we will see how they step up in the absence of the stars. If I was a conspirist, I might suggest that this was an attempt to get the bench to play better, by giving them a longer leash. This will be a good opportunity to give extended minutes to some key role players that the Warriors will need to be playing in tip-top shape come April.
JaVale McGee is a serviceable center when surrounded by four all-stars. When he is the only starter left, it will be interesting to see if this becomes an exploitable matchup in the pick n’ roll. Expect Rudy and Donovan especially to step up. After all this talk, if Donovan and/or Rudy has a good outing, this game could end up being a walk in the park. Warriors coach Steve Kerr will need to run some impressive strategies if they are to slow that pair down.
Most Likely Jazz Killer: ?
I honestly don’t know who presents the biggest threat to the Jazz here. This is really going to be a team vs. team battle. For the Warriors to have a chance, they will need more than one player to have a good game. Hungry role players are still dangerous. The Jazz cannot let their guard down tonight.
Overall, if the Jazz take care of their business, my hyper-advanced eye test says they should be about 6-point favorites to win this game. During this playoff race, every game is must-watch TV. There is a lot on the line tonight for the Jazz, and they can’t rest on their laurels. Historic records have been broken this season, but that all carries just a little less weight if we miss the playoffs.