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Utah Jazz vs. Golden State Warriors Game Preview: Imperfect Jazz look to dirty up the Dubs

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Game #16: Warriors (18-0) @ Jazz (8-7)
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)
TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

I fear the Golden State Warriors (18-0). They won the title last season, and have yet to lose a game this season. I fear the Golden State Warriors because only one of their top eight three point shooters this season isn't shooting 40% of above. I fear the Golden State Warriors because they can go small, and their offense can kick into overdrive -- and there's no hope for us to match-up against that. But I mostly fear the Golden State Warriors because history. They knocked out the Utah Jazz from the 1st round of the 1987 playoffs, and then did it again in the 1989 playoffs. When they are good they are great. history also tells us that the Golden State Warriors have been below average for a very long time, but it seems like that time has passed. They won the title last year, their franchises' fourth. And they are aiming for another one this year. It's game 16 for the Utah Jazz (8-7) tonight. But if the stars line up, it could be one of the more memorable games this season.

The Warriors are a great example of a team that trusted in itself, and developed young guys into solid players. Yes, they added vets from other programs, like Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Leandro Barbosa, and last season David Lee. But it was draft picks Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes who all played more than 2k minutes last season for them. Golden State did not skip steps. And that's one thing the Jazz are trying to re-create.

Utah hopes it can do the same with their legion of youth, some of whom are now seasoned vets. Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Trey Burke, Raul Neto, Joe Ingles, Trey Lyles, and the injured Dante Exum have all been Jazz rookies. The only guy from outside of the Jazz system is 28 year old Trevor Booker. Where the Warriors are now are (obviously) miles ahead of the Jazz. But hopefully some of this Spursian influence will also translate to an open floor concept that plays tough defense.

And that's really how the Jazz are going to win this game. Yes, they beat the Warriors in Utah last season 110-100, but the Jazz main talents like in slowing the pace down to a crawl and slowly suffocating teams to death. The Jazz are average at making the other team take poor shots, however they are 3rd best in causing a turn over, and 8th best in protecting their glass. Yes, they are prone to putting the other team to the line, but that's a stink the Jazz just can't be rid off, now two coaches departed from Jerry Sloan.

Utah is excellent on the offensive glass, as well as getting to the line (not in terms of actually getting free throw shots though, but as a ratio of how many shots they actually attempt). Gordon Hayward seems to be out of his season long funk, and for a team that rarely scores, it's nice to know that there are six guys who can put the ball in the basket -- two of whom come off the bench.

Golden State is really really good, even if they aren't as good as they were last season. In 2014-15 they were #1 in pace, #1 in DRG, and #2 in ORTG. They were also #1 in PPG, and won their games, on average, 110.0 to 99.9. This season those values have gone down to #3 in Pace, #6 in DRTG, #1 in ORTG, and still #1 in PPG. What has changed is now they win games, on average, to the final score 115.8 to 99.8. So their ordinal values are worse, but they are absolutely better this season. Crazy.

The Warriors are great, they are perfect. And yes, the Jazz are imperfect. But sometimes even the best teams lose, and the incomplete ones can finish the game on top. I love this Jazz group. One thing about them is that they are all so young they aren't bogged down with decades and decades of Jazz history like I am. They are too young to fear. These are the guys who used to win games against Kobe Bryant 's Los Angeles Lakers in their gym. Surely it's not too much for them to be focused on winning a game -- one at home, at that.

After all, the Jazz beat these Warriors LAST season after Gobert was put in the starting line-up. The Warriors will be without starter Harrison Barnes, and rookie Kevon Looney. The Jazz are without starter Dante Exum. But Derrick Favors is back, Raul Neto, Rodney Hood, and Trey Burke are all sick or hurt, but still will all try to play tonight. These guys WANT to play spoiler tonight.

I think they can.

GO JAZZ GO!