NBA

Only complacency can prevent Golden State from sweeping Utah

You’ve got to hand it to them, that was a real business-like loss by the Jazz. No one was offended, no one looked all that bad, no one exerted themselves too severely.

The result was a 12-point win for the Warriors that felt like it could’ve been by 32. Other than a flurry of otherworldly activity from Steph Curry and an outstanding, efficient return to action for Shaun Livingston, the Warriors weren’t exactly crushing it offensively. They missed several easy shots, including some open threes, and the Jazz have the next couple of days to mull over how they were never in Game 1, despite their opponents shooting 24.1% (7-for-29) from the 3-point line.

Golden State’s overall attack was pretty perfect, though, other than the shot-making. Rodney Hood’s third quarter was nice, but that was it. The Warriors didn’t allow anyone to go off or even feel comfortable, Gordon Hayward in particular. And that’s why the Jazz have no chance in this series, even if whatever was up with Curry’s foot/ankle lingers beyond tonight. Hayward doesn’t have the repertoire to handle a Warriors defense designed to frustrate him, and the Jazz don’t have any offensive weapons that rival the Warriors’ third-best option — no one who can go insane and drop 30+ while hitting five or six threes.

The Jazz are a lot like the Spurs, who have a much better perimeter option than Hayward in Kawhi Leonard, but not much else that scares you. So, we probably already know where this is headed after just one game: the third postseason battle between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets in three years.

Dub Steps

— You know that set of moves by Curry that turned Rudy Gobert around in a circle? That’s what Curry couldn’t do throughout the 2016 postseason. The Warriors are downplaying whatever happened to Curry on that layup tonight, but he didn’t play a minute after leaving the game and getting his foot/ankle worked on by Chelsea Lane. The Warriors don’t need Curry to win this series in five (or four) games, but they’ll need him at nearly full strength to outscore Houston.

— Well, they’ll probably need him. The Warriors look like they can handle just about anything right now.

— Utah barely beat an already-damaged Clippers team that lost Blake Griffin, so I’m not sure why an easy win for the Warriors in Game 1 would surprise anyone (including the Jazz).

— Draymond Green is at his all-around best right now. It’s easy to take for granted how good he is at humiliating Utah players by making open court strips look easy.

On that subject, these shirts are still available … for the playoffs only:

— Green is doing it all, without trying to do too much. This time, HE’S the one drawing flagrant fouls instead of the other way around. Would Green have reacted so calmly to Rudy Gobert’s sideline shove a year ago? Doubtful. This time he threw a bemused look on his face after getting caught by the fans sitting courtside and chilled while the officials watched the play a few times before registering their verdict against Gobert.

— I thought the Warriors were getting a little toughness and “bangin’ down low” veteran savvy when they signed David West. I wasn’t sure what they would get, actually. West didn’t look like he had that much left last year in San Antonio. Maybe it’s my fault for not paying attention before, but his interior passing borders on geometric genius at times, including tonight. What a smart, skilled player.

— The Warriors have won five games, and four rather easily, without a great game from Klay Thompson. Maybe someone needs to get him one of these shirt and he’ll heat up a bit.

— Guess I should mention Kevin Durant at least once. Durant was almost superfluous tonight, like chocolate sauce on Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. They’ll need him at some point, but right now he’s just there to remind the opponent just how large the talent divide is.

— Other than their wayward jump-shooting, the Warriors played pretty well in Game 1, with everyone kind of taking turns showing what they can do offensively and switching the Jazz to death (it’s striking to see a guy like Ian Clark stymying guards on the perimeter as Utah struggles to get anything other than Hood drives from their halfcourt offense). The Warriors will hit a higher percentage of their outside shots in Game 2 (Andre Iguodala missed all six of his 3-point attempts, for instance), now that the between-series rust has been chipped away. Utah’s only chance at keeping Game 2 — and this series — close is to dominate the offensive glass and force more turnovers than the seven Golden State committed tonight. Don’t hold your breath.

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