Just one day removed from a 110-87 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Fresno, the Golden State Warriors will return to the familiar confines of Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA to take on the Utah Jazz.
Utah, which hasn’t yet played a preseason contest, figures to be right in the thick of the fight for one of the bottom two playoff seeds out west. After making the postseason a year ago, the Jazz will look to improve on their 36-30 mark from 2011-12. And they’ve got enough young talent to do it.
Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter give the Jazz the best young collection of front court options in the league. Jefferson is probably the NBA’s premier one-on-one post-up scorer, while Millsap is a terrific rebounder who’s added a solid mid-range jumper to his offensive arsenal. Favors has otherworldly athleticism that he has yet to totally harness and Kanter, who has reportedly lost as much as 50 pounds this offseason, is a big, bruising presence down low.
For the Warriors, watch for Stephen Curry to make his preseason debut after sitting out the contest against the Lakers on October 7. Everyone in the building will be keeping a close eye on Curry to see if there are any lingering effects of his offseason ankle surgery. Though he’s been cleared of any restrictions since the beginning of September, Curry has still been held back by Warriors’ management out of an abundance of caution.
It’s unlikely that Curry will log more than 20 minutes against Utah, but that should be enough time to see if he looks like his old self.
Andrew Bogut, who sat out against the Lakers, won’t be in the lineup against Utah, either. That’ll mean rookie Festus Ezeli will get another big chunk of minutes to prove he can be Bogut’s primary backup during the regular season. With Utah’s sizable front line, Ezeli will have an excellent opportunity to show he can measure up to even the most formidable of the NBA’s bigs.
Finally, look for both Brandon Rush and Klay Thompson to have stellar nights against Utah’s undersized back court. Other than starter Gordon Hayward, the Jazz feature a handful of undersized guards at both positions. Both Warrior wings showed they could put the ball on the floor against the Lakers, with Thompson looking particularly impressive on a trio of early drives.
If Golden State continues the stellar rebounding and shooting it displayed against the Lakers, the Jazz shouldn’t be an issue—for whatever that’s worth, considering we’re still talking about the preseason.