Key #3 – Manage the Runs
As I mentioned when discussing Golden State’s success in transition, this team is able to build momentum in the blink of an eye, often burying teams before they even know what is happening. Often times it happens due to multiple baskets on the break, making this key overlap somewhat with the first, but that isn’t always necessarily the case.
When you have guys like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson who have a knack for simply catching fire and at times make missing look next to impossible, it’s not all that surprising that the Warriors are able to get such quick runs going.
And make no mistake about it, those offensive surges are going to come. What the Jazz have to do in response is simply not panic, weather the storm and bring the game back to their pace. Quin Snyder has been exceptional all year long about knowing just when to call timeout to halt momentum, then typically his Jazz team has responded by regaining control of the tempo and closing the gap after any runs that take place.
To me, the first contest of the regular season against Golden State is a perfect example of this. In that game, the Warriors’ run came right out of the gates as they built an early 29-5 lead. But rather than hang their heads, the Jazz chipped away and very much got back into the game. Although they ultimately lost by seven points, that outcome was much closer than what the game looked to be at first.
Therefore, the calm, cool and collected Jazz will have to be mentally prepared to take those hits when they come and still not stray from their game plan. If the Warriors are allowed to build a big lead and run with it, they’re nearly unbeatable. However, when teams opposing the Warriors are able to nip those surges in the bud as quickly as possible then rein the Warriors back in, that’s what gives them a chance.
It’s more than likely that for the Jazz to have any amount of success, they’ll need to keep these games low scoring. The last team Utah would want to get into a shootout with would be the mighty Golden State Warriors, so the Jazz need to make sure to manage Golden State’s runs effectively, fighting back when necessary and doing whatever it takes to throw the Warriors out of their pace and off of their rhythm throughout the series.