The Golden State Warriors (7-0) defeated the Utah Jazz (4-6) by the final score of 102-91 tonight. And with that the Warriors are one more win away from advancing to the Western Conference Finals. That means that the Utah Jazz are now going to be facing elimination games the rest of the series - something they faced only once against the Los Angeles Clippers whom they dispatched in seven close games.
This one tonight was the only close game of the series so far, and with that Utah still lost by 11. That’s a kick in the pants for some very good opportunities. Draymond Green was in foul trouble, shooting poorly, and was losing the ‘head’ game and even got a technical foul from the bench. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were missing more than splashing. The pace was slow. The Jazz were contesting shots well, and allowed to play some physical defense . . . and the only one hurting Utah was Kevin Durant.
Sadly, Kevin would do that all night long with his ability to score off the bounce, in the pick and roll, off curls, in transition, and on a self-post in isolation. He had no answer on the other side, and Durant’s 38 points was the big difference in this game. Gordon Hayward had the quietest 29 points in relation, a big part of that was going to the free throw line 14 times (missing only his last, which would have given him 30).
Golden State started this game off strong, but didn’t start it off on an 11-0 or 9-0 run. Mercifully. Shelvin Mack was macking it up, sometimes driving and scoring, sometimes passing the ball. Never seeming to do the one needed on the given play - but he would still finish the game with 11 points off of 11 shots, and have 5 assists to 3 turn overs. I was impressed because my expectations were so low for him.
The first quarter did go the Warriors way, and they would lead 27-17 after 12 minutes. Utah roared back in the second, getting points in transition, playing tough defense, and making jumpers (imagine that!). The Jazz 33-22 second quarter victory set up a 50-49 halftime lead.
It was tight the rest of the way as the Warriors emerged with a two point lead after three, and then took over in the mid fourth quarter. It was a 78-78 tie with 7:15 left, and it was 95-84 with 2:36.
The Warriors were playing their offense, getting the ball to Kevin Durant, and making jumpers. The Jazz were settling and being indecisive. They abandoned getting it to Rudy Gobert in my mind. Gordon Hayward was too unselfish as well, setting up wide open jumpers for Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw that would not find the mark. Also, Shelvin Mack heat-checks with 17 seconds on the clock don’t work out.
Hopefully this was not the ‘best chance to win’ game for the Jazz. But it may end up looking like that. For me all I reasonably wanted from this season was the division, 50+ wins, a series round victory in the first, and one win and one close loss against the Dubs.
The only thing missing round now is that win. And they can still get it if George Hill comes back, and so do some of the Jazz shots. Utah shot 7/22 from outside in this game which is not very good for them. As a group their wings shot 40% for the season, and seeing Hood and Johnson shoot 2/9 isn’t good enough, especially not when Joe Ingles and Hayward are shooting 4/9. That 6/18 is below where they should be.
Anyway, the Jazz get another crack at this on Monday. See you all there Jazz fans. We know Rudy Gobert will be, he had 21/15/4/0/2 in his best game of the playoffs so far. He’ll only get better and better.