The second round series between the Golden State Warriors and the Utah Jazz kicked off on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena. The Warriors are heavily favored in this series and most experts expect them to win in 5 games or less. Game 1 seemed to support that theory. The Warriors beat the Jazz 106-94, and took a 1-0 lead in their series. Acting Head Coach, Mike Brown, got a balanced performance from all his stars. Stephen Curry led the way with 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. Draymond Green and Kevin Durant each dropped 17 points, Klay Thompson chipped in 15, and even Zaza Pachulia contributed to the cause, scoring 10 points. For the Jazz, it was Rudy Gobert who had the biggest impact. He filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal. Gordon Hayward and Joe Johnson, who got the start for the Jazz, struggled to score. Hayward put up 12 points on 4-12 shooting, while Johnson scored 11 points, going 4-10 from the field.
Most fans missed the start of the game, on a account of Boston and Washington going into overtime. That was probably a good thing for the Jazz. Had the game gone on air on time, Jazz fans would’ve seen a horrid start by their team. Utah started the game going 0-6 from the field, and found themselves down 9-0 early. By the time the TNT broadcast picked up the game at the 5:31 mark, the Jazz had made it a respectable game, 14-9. With 4:55 to go in the 1st quarter, Rudy Gobert had a big block on Kevin Durant, and ot looked like Utah was starting to get past the nerves. Derrick Favors, who had a big game 7 for the Jazz against the Clippers, entered the game for the first time with 4:01 to go in the 1st quarter, but he wouldn’t have as big of an impact this time around. Favors would only score 4 points off the bench, but 2 of them came with 2:57 to go in the 1st quarter, which cut the Warriors lead to just 1, 18-17. The Warriors would respond however, going on a 7-2 run in the last 1:40 of the quarter, and ending it with a 27-21 lead. Steph Curry scored 12 points in the quarter.
The Warriors started the 2nd quarter hot, hitting their first 5 field goal attempts, and finding themselves up 39-25 with 9:22 left in the half. They actually wouldn’t even miss their first shot til the 8:36 mark of the 2nd quarter, when Klay Thompson was off on a 3 point attempt. A Kevin Durant jumper with 3:32 to go in the half put the Warriors up 15 points, 52-37. The lead got bumped to 17 when Durant dunked the ball with 1:09 to go, putting Golden State up 58-41. The Jazz would try and fight back though, going on a 5-0 run to end the half, and cutting the Warrior lead to 12, 58-46. The Jazz were lucky to only be down 12 by the half. They had played sloppy ball, turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, and they let the Warriors implement their pace of play. The Warriors led the Jazz 18-6 in fast break points in the first half. The Jazz need to keep the tempo of the game slow if the they’re going to put up a fight against Golden State, and game 1’s 1st half wasn’t a good start.
The 3rd quarter opened with a George Hill floater, cutting the lead to 10, 58-48. The Jazz would go on a 13-3 after being down 58-41, but the Warriors would respond with a 7-0 run of their own and bump the lead back up to 14, 68-54, with 9:16 left in the 3rd quarter. Rodney Hood would heat up for Utah in the 3rd, scoring 10 of his 12 points. A runner in the lane by Hood cut the Warriors lead to 82-73, with 36 seconds left in the quarter, but a pair of Draymond Green free throws put the Warriors up 84-73, heading into the 4th. The Jazz would actually outscore the Warriors in the 3rd quarter 27-26. Draymond Green started the 4th quarter off with a 3 point play, and put the Warriors up 87-73. A dunk by Andre Iguodala at the 9:42 mark of the 4th quarter took the lead up to 19, 92-73. Joe Johnson finally stopped the bleeding for the Jazz, and hit a 3 pointer with 8:16 to go in the 4th, snapping a 12-0 run by Golden State. Utah started the 4th quarter the same way They started the game, missing their first 6 shots and essentially handing the Warriors the advantage. A jumper by Klay Thompson with with 6:27 to go put the Warriors up 20 and basically crushed any hopes Utah had of making it a game. Steph Curry, who landed weird on his ankle in the 3rd quarter, inexplicably re-entered the game at the 5:37 mark of the 4th quarter, with the Warriors up 19. However he would come back out at the 5:16 mark. We’ll have to keep an eye on that ankle. Curry was plagued by nagging ankle injuries early on in his career. For some reason, probably just to get some reps in, Kevin Durant played until their was 3:22 left in the game, before going to the bench. Th final score was 106-94 in favor of the Warriors, and it wasn’t really that close. On the bright side for Utah, they had a pretty bad game, and they only lost by 12. There’s no such thing as moral victories in sports, but the Jazz just came off an emotional game 7 win on Sunday and still managed to put up a fight against the best team in the league. For the Warriors, as long as their stars stay healthy and they stay focused, they should be able to make it a short series. Luckily for them, when the series shifts to Utah for games 3 and 4, there won’t be much of a night life to distract them.
Game 2 is Thursday at 10:30 pm EST on ESPN.