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Count on The Warriors to Back Jazz Into Corner
The Warriors are just too good for Utah
By Liam Davis
Utah Jazz (+5.5) vs. Golden State Warriors (-5.5)
Believe it or not, despite winning Games 1 and 2 by an average of 11.5 points, the Golden State Warriors are 0-2 against the spread in their best-of-seven series versus the Utah Jazz.
Should be expect this to continue?
The Jazz have done a surprisingly good job through the first two tilts not getting destroyed from beyond the arc. They actually won the three-point battle in Game 1, drilling nine threebies to the Warriors' seven. Though the Warriors turned it on a bit more in Game 2, burying 14 triples, the Jazz were within sniffing distance with their 12 made shots from long range.
Also credit the Jazz for hanging tough on the defensive end in general. They were outscored 29-6 in transition during Game 1, but made adjustments for Game 2, electing to foul the Warriors anytime it looked like they were getting up the floor in search of an easy two-pointer or pull-up three. The tweak, while unconventional, worked. They lost the fast-break battle just 19-18 on Thursday night.
All of this, meanwhile, happened without George Hill. He missed Thursday's contests with a big toe injury. While he's listed as questionable for Game 3, the Jazz have now shown their offense can get by with Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, Joe Ingles and even Rodney Hood bringing up the ball. And as for the actual point guard position, Quin Snyder seems content to rotate between Dante Exum, Shelvin Mack and Raul Neto when Hill isn't available.
So, again, we should take the Jazz seriously. They are 2-0 against the spread for a reason, even with most of those double-digit outcomes going down to the wire.
And yet: The Warriors were still favored, and won, by double digits.
This isn't some coincidence. The Warriors are, by far, the better team. And they're winning these games pretty decisively without all of their best players firing on all cylinders. Both Draymond Green and Stephen Curry went 5-of-8 from downtown in Game 2, accounting for 10 of the Warriors' 14 made long balls, but neither Kevin Durant nor Klay Thompson, while good, was especially potent.
What happens when they detonate in conjunction with Curry and Green? What happens when the Jazz's fast-break defense, which includes fouling by design, sends important players into foul trouble? What happens if Hayward stops hitting the ridiculously tough shots he feasted off of in Game 2?
What happens then?
The Jazz have been great at home all year, and they've now proved they can at least play hard enough and efficient enough to have a puncher's chance at tying things up in the fourth quarter. But a 5.5-point buffer between them and the Warriors is much too small when, despite everything they've done, these Jazz have yet to lose by less than 11 points or, more incredibly, even hold a single solitary lead in this series.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-5.5)
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