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Video analysis: Jazz fared well against Warriors in a potential playoff matchup

Rodney Hood wants it.

Derrick Favors wants it.

Rudy Gobert certainly wants it.

Following the Utah Jazz’s 103-96 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night at Vivint Arena, a hot topic of conversation during postgame media availability was the idea that these two teams could meet in the first round of the NBA playoffs in mid-April.

As it stands following Wednesday’s action, the Warriors (68-7) are in the driver’s seat in the Western Conference, just two games away from clinching the top spot and five off from setting an all-time record for wins in the regular season.

The Jazz (37-38) are essentially in a three-way tie with Houston and Dallas for the eighth and final spot.

While the Warriors have a shot at becoming known as the best team in league history, the Jazz aren’t shrinking from the possibility of being pitted against them in the postseason. They welcome it, and for pretty good reason.

In two games against Stephen Curry and Co. at home this season, Quin Snyder’s club nearly came away with the victory. Besides Wednesday’s result, Utah fell to Golden State by three Nov. 30.

If the two teams were to play one another in a series, it would undoubtedly be the biggest upset in NBA history if the Jazz were to eliminate the Warriors. It would even be an incredible accomplishment for Utah to win multiple games.

But back in November and again Wednesday, the Jazz offered a recipe for how they might be able to steal a game, and it comes down to defense and pace.

“We didn’t make many shots in the second half, (we) didn’t really get many good looks,” Curry said. “They used that to their advantage and got the game to their pace, which is pretty opposite — the approaches to the game, the way we play and the way they play. Whoever could get the pace to their liking was probably going to have an edge, and they did that for most of the second half. We finally picked it up in the last three minutes (of regulation).”

The score alone backs up Curry’s assessment. Golden State is averaging 115.1 points per game, tops in the league by more than five points over Oklahoma City, yet had just 89 at the end of regulation.

That wasn’t the only statistical category Utah succeeded in, however. The Jazz won the rebounding battle by 10, captured 11 steals to the Warriors’ six and forced 18 turnovers while committing just 15.

Here are a few some examples of plays in which Utah succeeded in stopping Golden State, thereby allowing it to control the pace on the offensive end.

Curry's magic is that he’s able to end up having a good night even when a team is defending him well. On Wednesday, Curry finished with 31 points, but the Jazz continually did a good job keeping him from having good looks by not allowing him to get any space.

Here in particular, Gordon Hayward does an exceptional job of picking Curry up off the pick from Draymond Green, resulting in a Curry turnover at a key moment in the fourth quarter.

Because of Gobert’s intimidating presence in the paint, Utah is often able to be more aggressive on the perimeter, knowing the Frenchman will be able to pick up the slack should offensive players get into the key.

On this play, however, Trey Lyles does a good job recognizing that Curry is driving, and he doesn’t just leave it up to Gobert to stop the MVP.

Gobert is still key, however. As seen here, Klay Thompson gets by Hood and Joe Ingles, and appears to have an easy path to the basket before Gobert comes over to help, forcing Thompson to put up a tricky shot, a miss Ingles easily rebounds.

To be sure, the Jazz weren’t wonderful offensively Wednesday night. They finished regulation nearly nine points below their season average and barely eclipsed the 40-percent mark from the field. To boot, they shot an atrocious 44 percent from the free-throw line.

Still, Utah showed Wednesday that it won’t have to be great offensively against the Warriors to steal a game should the teams face one another in the playoffs.

Ryan McDonald is a sports reporter at DeseretNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanwmcdonald.