2017 Hoops Inq. Playoff Preview: Warriors (1) – Jazz (5)

2017 Hoops Inq. Playoff Preview: Warriors (1) – Jazz (5)


Series Schedule:

Game 1: Tuesday, 5/2 @ Golden State

Game 2: Thursday, 5/4 @ Golden State

Game 3: Saturday, 5/6 @ Utah

Game 4: Monday, 5/8 @ Utah

Game 5 (if necessary): Wednesday, 5/10 @ Golden State

Game 6 (if necessary): Friday, 5/12 @ Utah

Game 7 (if necessary): Sunday, 5/14 @ Golden State

Regular Season Series Results:

The Warriors won the regular season battle by winning 2 out of 3 games against the Jazz.

Players To Watch:

Utah Jazz:

Rudy Gobert: Gobert came back from a knee injury that barely kept him out of the first round series and actually ended up playing more than 30 minutes in consecutive games. He's arguably the best defensive player in the league and will try to prove that against Draymond Green. His length will give the Warriors problems all series long and make their stars think twice about attacking the basket.

Gordon Hayward: In what could be Hayward's final series with the Utah Jazz, he faces a tough task. He will likely switch off defending either Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant. Neither player is easy to defend. Meanwhile, he's the only player on the Jazz that can at least try to go basket for basket with the Dubs top three scorers. He will either end up being a hero for Utah or another player in franchise history that wasn't able to get passed the players better than him.

George Hill: He survived seven games of Chris Paul and now his prize is to go up against Stephen Curry for at least four more battles. Hill is one of the better defensive point guards in the league. He's also been a good scorer for the Jazz; he averaged a career high 16.9 points per game this season and is averaging 18 a contest in his last five playoff games. Hill will make sure that Curry (or Thompson) is not resting and laying low on the other side of the ball.

Golden State Warriors: 

Kevin Durant: An injured knee and now a calf strain has held KD out for about the last 20 games or so of the season and playoffs. Durant played a few games in the first round, but it was clear Golden State did not need him to beat Portland. The Warriors medical staff has officially cleared Durant to play going forward and there is no questionable tag that will restrict him anymore. With more than a full week off, we should see the scoring machine torch the Jazz.

Draymond Green: He loves the challenge of going up against true NBA centers and he won't have to look any further than Rudy Gobert. Both players are some of the top contenders for Defensive Player of the Year. Despite this series not impacting the vote, you know they will give it their all not just because it's the playoffs, but to prove that they are the better player. Green was incredible during the first round and was the Warriors best player. He needs to keep up that intensity against one of the better front-courts in the league.

JaVale McGee: JaValeeeeee McGeeee (Shaq voice) was phenomenal against the Blazers in the last series. He scored 9.8 points off the bench and shot the ball at 78 percent from the field, had 2.3 blocks per game and averaged 4.3 rebounds in just over 12 minutes of action. It remains unknown at this point if he was just taking advantage of a terrible Portland front-court, or if he's going to be a legitimate factor this postseason. We'll  know for sure once he has to go up against the tandem of Favors and Gobert.

There is growing concern across the Bay Area that Steve Kerr has likely coached his last game this postseason. Mike Brown continues to talk to the media on off days while Kerr watches the team practice at his own comfort. His health issues go beyond basketball and the team is doing anything they can to make sure he feels right. The Warriors will be emotional and play with heavy hearts. Utah is coming off a grueling 7-game series, but the final game gave their guys a chance to rest a bit because it was a blowout. Golden State will start off with rust, especially given the nature of their offense. But they will be fine after a quarter or two. They should have swept the season series, but Kerr rested the starters in the final few minutes of their last match-up. The Jazz toughness, size and skill will give the Warriors some more trouble than Portland did. I expect competitive games throughout the series, but it won't last long. Warriors in 5.