The Utah Jazz will look to sweep the season series with the dismantled Golden State Warriors in the Bay.
For the final time this season (and possibly many more), the Utah Jazz will catch a break with the Golden State Warriors. After winning three championships in four years, the Dubs seemed primed to threepeat as champions a year ago.
Instead their players’ physically deteriorated at the end, as they lost both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson to season ending injuries. They lost to Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors in six games in the NBA Finals, and saw a flury of change on their roster.
Kevin Durant left for Brooklyn because he didn’t feel like he was wanted in Golden State the way he should be. Shaun Livingston retired, and DeMarcus Cousins also bolted in free agency. Knowing that they were likely gonna be missing Klay Thompson for the majority – if not all of the 2019-20 season, the front office traded Andre Iguodala to clear cap space to land D’Angelo Russell.
Thompson and Draymond Green were emphatic in the late summer that despite the heavy turnover, the team would still be good this season. I too thought that the Warriors would be a playoff team, and a scary underdog if they had Klay Thompson making a return in March or April.
Steph Curry was supposed to have his usage rate through the roof this season and put up numbers similar to his unanimous MVP season. When the preseason started, their lack of defensive personnel was unveiled and it looked like they would miss the playoffs even with Curry.
Then Curry broke his left hand in the fifth game of the season, and the Warriors became a favorite to land the top pick in the 2020 NBA draft. Assuming they get back a healthy Splash Bros. duo next fall, they have two big trade chips (lottery pick and D’Angelo Russell) to add a proper supporting cast and launch themselves back into contention next season.
We may be regretting this tanked season of the Warriors later, but for now the Jazz need a win. A victory tonight will keep them tied for the second seed out West. A blowout win would be fantastic, giving the players some extra confidence and rest as they exit the easiest section of the regular season.
Tip-off: 8:00 PM on January 22nd from Chase Center in San Francisco, CA
TV: AT&T SportsNet, stream on fubo.tv
Radio: The Zone Sports Network (97.5 FM and 1280 AM Salt Lake City)
Projected Starting Lineups
Utah Jazz Position Golden State Warriors
Joe Ingles SG D’Angelo Russell
The Utah Jazz are fortunate to have a completely clean injury report. I’m betting that Mike Conley will still be on a minutes restriction for a while. On ESPN’s “NBA The Jump” show, Conley’s former coach David Fizdale said:
“I just think they need to slow-walk his injury, and not rush him back to playing big minutes, [because] for them, what they’re trying to get to is a higher place in the playoffs, and Mike Conley is gonna be a huge part of that movement forward… I know Mike is so selfless, he would do whatever they ask of him. But I know in the playoffs you want that guy on the floor playing minutes for you because he’s got ice water in his veins and he’s a big-time player”.
As for the Golden State Warriors, Klay Thompson is not expected to play this season. He was spotted in full uniform shooting on a court by himself, so I can tell he’s itching to get back on the court as soon as the Warriors medical staff will let him. For their own sake, they best not let him back until next season.
Stephen Curry is rehabbing his broken hand, and is expected to return on the first of March. Jacob Evans (concussion) and Kevon Looney (abdominal) are listed as out, and Draymond Green (flu-like symptoms) and Glenn Robinson (ankle) are listed as questionable. Neither played in Monday night’s exciting game against the Portland Trail-Blazers.
The Utah Jazz feel like a much different team from the last time they played the Warriors. Despite the Dubs resembling the walking wounded and playing on the road, the Jazz allowed them to hang in the game for far too long. It took some heroic fourth quarter play from Donovan Mitchell to squeak by thanks to a revenge game from former Jazzman Alec Burks.
The Warriors have proved against several teams this year that they can steal games from superior opponents. Their signature win of the season has to be against the Houston Rockets on Christmas Day. Also don’t count out the fact that they gave Utah a scare twice this season and nearly put two big fat L’s in our record.
Because the Warriors played a fast paced game that went to overtime just two days ago, I bet they are gassed. Eric Paschall played 42 minutes, and Alec Burks and D’Angelo Russell also expended their energy for 39 minutes respectively.
Meanwhile the Jazz are coming off a blowout victory. Nobody had to play more than 32 minutes, and in my opinion the starters could have been taken out five minutes earlier and the Jazz would’ve been fine. Utah is listed as big favorites everywhere I look, and I concur with the oddsmakers.
Jazz 115, Warriors 104.
#UTAatGSW will be the hashtag on twitter for the game, and if you’re not much of a twitter guy you can comment on the thread below. Go Jazz!