Golden State Warriors Face Tough Test From Jazz


The Utah Jazz will travel to Oracle Arena for the second game of the four-game season series against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.

A potential 1-8 matchup in the playoffs at their current standings, these two teams could potentially meet up for 11 games this season.

The Bucks have shown that the train known as the Warriors can be derailed with heavy doses of taller, longer players. Michael Carter-Williams and Giannis Antetokounmpo caused problems all over the court for the Warriors and led to two of the worst shooting performances of the season.

The Jazz have two players of similar caliber in Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert. The ability to not only contest outside shooting but to also protect the rim at an All-NBA level can force the Warriors into another disappointing offensive performance.

Mar 3, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) celebrates with guard Gordon Hayward (20) after a score against the Memphis Grizzlies in the second half at FedExForum. Utah defeated Memphis 93-82. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

After losing the last contest by only three, the lowest margin up to that point, the Jazz will look to another star in the making, Derrick Favors, to continue his strong play against Draymond Green. Combining for 47 points with Hayward in that game, Favors is one of few players in the league that is strong and fast enough to keep Green from slowing him down too much.

With Harrison Barnes not expected to suit up tomorrow, the Warriors will need Brandon Rush and Andre Iguodala to come up with big defensive stops against one of the best scorers in the league. Hayward can do it all on offense, although he is most dangerous putting the ball on the court and creating open looks for his teammates.  The Jazz have five players averaging double-digits in scoring and they get a ton of production from their shooting guards Alec Burks and Rodney Hood.

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Perhaps their most important player is Rudy Gobert, who is becoming one of the best defensive centers in the league.  The Jazz are significantly better with Gobert on the court with better stats across the board. The most significant improvements are on defense, where their steals per 42 minutes jumps from 6.7 to 8.4 and their blocks improve from 3.5 to 5.0. Even on offense, the Jazz see improvements in field-goal percentage, three-point percentage and even free-throw percentage. Although the Jazz are in the bottom third when it comes to offense, the boast a top-5 defense in terms of points per game.

Like the Bucks, the Jazz are a young and talented team capable of upsetting the defending world champs on any given night. With the top of the Western Conference stacked with teams biting at their heels and a handful young teams ready to prove they can keep up, the Warriors have a tough season ahead of them despite their recent successes.