The Utah Jazz (4-5) lost tonight to the Golden State Warriors (6-0) by the final score of 115-104. But that’s not the game. Well, it’s the game if all you care about is “Scoreboard,” furthermore, the Warriors are now two wins away from the Western Conference Finals. They are doing what they are supposed to do, defend their home court. And they’ve done that. One thing that they are NOT supposed to do is give this Jazz team hope and let them feel good about themselves.
And this Jazz team is getting more and more confidence with each game. Yes, things started off poorly. Not 9-0 poorly, but still poor enough that the Warriors crew got everything they wanted on offense and defense in the first few minutes of this game. And by design, the Jazz were playing from behind all game long. This was the second straight wire-to-wire victory by the Warriors. And they were up 33-15 after one.
Shelvin Mack had the short straw tonight having to start at point guard due to George Hill’s toe injury. Having to defend these guys on the Dubs is an unenviable task. But our guys tried. They won the second quarter 32-27, won the third quarter 35-32, and pretty much held serve against the West Champs in the fourth, 22-23.
Utah was down by 13 at half (instead of 12), they were down by 10 after three (instead of 11). And we expected a knock out punch in the early fourth just like Game 1. That didn’t happen. Utah was playing better defense, they were stringing together runs on their own. And Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert were finding some footing in this game. Hayward dropped 33 / 5 / 4 / 1 in this game and nearly shot 50% from the field - as the primiary guy to defend, the focus of all of their defensive schemes. Gorbert had a 16 / 16 game with a steal and a block while shooting 8/12.
The Jazz didn’t get knocked out, and the Warriors had to play their starters, even re-inserting a hobbling Draymond Green, to finish this game. So instead of it being a garbage time honor-saving it was a win that the Warriors starters had still had to earn.
They did. It was an 11 point victory for them. But it wasn’t a 21 point victory. It wasn’t a 30 point blowout. And this is a Jazz team that a) hasn’t been here before, b) wasn’t supposed to be here, and c) playing without a key starter.
Utah is getting better, even if their defensive rotations on some plays were very questionable. The Warriors shot .494 .452 .850 in this game, and their offensive capabilities are very apparent. They shared the ball and were as good as we expected them to be. Their only errors were forced turn overs.
The Jazz also turned the ball over a lot too, but had 16 fast break points in this one (GSW had 19). The pace was faster in this one (100.8 pace instead of 91 something). Rodney Hood didn’t shoot well, but we saw some good moments out there for Raul Neto and Dante Exum. It’s still going to be an uphill battle this series.
But the series turns to Utah. And the Jazz need to win one game at a time. Focus on one game at a time. And focus on further gaining confidence against the best team in the league.
Things will get better. This team is going to be a monster in the future.
See you all on Saturday, on ABC!