OAKLAND, Calif. — After Wednesday night’s 107-83 loss in Denver, the Utah Jazz have lost nine of the last 11 games.
The Jazz are ranked ninth in the Western Conference, playing without All-NBA center Rudy Gobert for the second major stretch of the season as he recovers from a sprained PCL.
On the flipside, the Golden State Warriors are the defending NBA champions, ranked first in the Western Conference and winners of 12 of the last 13 games.
So, with the Jazz entering Oracle Arena tonight at 8:30 MST to face the Dubs, it would be easy for Golden State to overlook the visitors.
That certainly isn’t the case, though.
“They play extremely hard,” said Warriors star Kevin Durant. “I love Coach Quin (Snyder) and how he gets those guys to play with movement. The ball moves a lot. It’s not like they’re zooming up and down the court, but the ball moves a lot, they’re physical.”
Warriors star Kevin Durant talks about facing the Utah Jazz. pic.twitter.com/wFlI1Ny5GL— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) December 27, 2017
Despite the losses, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green said the Jazz are “a lot better than everybody thought they would be.”
In order to avoid an upset, Green says the team has to enter with the right mindset by not turning the ball over and making Utah score in the half-court setting, where it’s been tough to find a spark outside of star rookie Donovan Mitchell.
“Donovan Mitchell’s been a surprise,” Green said during Wednesday’s shootaround. “He’s been really good, even with Rudy (Gobert) missing a bunch of the season, it’s made them tougher in some aspects.
“They get up and down the floor more when he’s out,” he added. “The floor is a little more spaced out when he’s not out there so it makes them a little tougher to guard. I think they’ve been quite a surprise even with them losing.”
Warriors star Draymond Green says the @utahjazz are a “lot better than everybody thought they would be.” He says the absence of Rudy Gobert has made them tougher in some aspects. pic.twitter.com/aB5rKhy4rz— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) December 27, 2017
These teams are playing for the first time this season after facing each other in the second round of the 2017 playoffs, where Golden State won, 4-0.
Two-time MVP Steph Curry will miss his 10th straight game today with a sprained right ankle, but will be re-evaluated Friday.
Utah (15-20) continues to push through the toughest December schedule of any team in the league.
"I don't want to look at the schedule," Snyder said. "Really, my perspective on the schedule is, yeah, it's hard, but it's something that we have to help us improve."