The Golden State Warriors travel to Utah to face the struggling Jazz hoping to keep pace with Western Conference leaders the Denver Nuggets, live on Sky Sports Action on Thursday at 2am.
The Warriors (21-10) are looking as dominant as ever, winning six of their last seven games. Golden State boast the league’s top-ranked offense and are fresh off a 110-93 blowout of the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night.
Live NBA: Golden State @ Utah
Health has been the primary concern for the Warriors early on this season, but the team’s injury list has finally begun to shorten. Stephen Curry is averaging 28.8 points per game and has been the team’s leading scorer since returning from injury.
Against Memphis, veterans Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston returned from their own injuries, both contributing 15 minutes off the bench.
The Utah Jazz (14-17) sit in 14th place in the Western Conference having won just one of their last five games.
The Jazz have found it difficult to create consistent offense, ranking 25th across the league in offensive rating (points scored per 100 possessions).
Utah have particularly struggled from beyond the arc, ranking just 26th across the league in three-point percentage this season.
Key Battle: Donovan Mitchell vs Klay Thompson
Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell is averaging a team-high 21.0 points per game, but is shooting only 42.3 per cent from the field, down from his 44 per cent clip last season.
Opposite number Klay Thompson, as elite a defender as he is a three-point shooter, is sure to give Mitchell, 22, a difficult night, limiting easy scoring opportunities and punishing any defensive lapses the young Jazz star might make.
Last time out
32.5 – Everyone knows about the Warriors’ ultra-efficient offense but their defense of the three-point line is top quality too. Opponents make just 32.5 per cent of their three-point attempts against the Warriors, the third lowest percentage across the league.
The athleticism, physicality and length of Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant allows the Warriors’ to pressurise team at the three-point line. The absence of easy looks from long distance makes it tough for teams to keep pace with the Warriors’ scoring pace.
One to watch (Warriors): Draymond Green
Now back to full fitness after an 11-game absence through injury, Green has resumed his role at the heart of the Warriors’ defense.
Curry, Durant and Thompson bring the scoring, but Green brings the toughness, heart and attitude (that can sometimes go too far) with his defensive intensity, rebounding and distribution.
Since returning the Warriors line-up on December 12, Green has supplied 10.0 rebounds and 7.25 assists per game.
One to watch (Jazz): Rudy Gobert
The ‘Stifle Tower’ has had a tough season to date, stymied by new rules limiting physicality on defense.
Gobert’s frustration boiled over in the Jazz’s recent win over the Houston Rockets where, after being called for two fouls in the opening three minutes of the game, he smashed a water bottle of the scorers’ table and was ejected by the officials.
Gobert is the reigning defensive player of the year and, as he continues to strive to adapt his game to the league’s new rules, a return to his dominant best cannot be far away.
Wednesday night’s games
- Cleveland Cavaliers @ Charlotte Hornets, 12am
- San Antonio Spurs @ Orlando Magic, 12am
- New York Knicks @ Philadelphia 76ers, 12am
- Indiana Pacers @ Toronto Raptors, 12:30am
- Phoenix Suns @ Boston Celtics, 12:30am
- Washington Wizards @ Houston Rockets, 1am
- New Orleans Pelicans @ Milwaukee Bucks, 1am
- Detroit Pistons @ Minnesota Timberwolves, 1am
- Brooklyn Nets @ Chicago Bulls, 1am
- Golden State Warriors @ Utah Jazz, 2am, live on Sky Sports Action
- Oklahoma City Thunder @ Sacramento Kings, 3am
- Memphis Grizzlies @ Portland Trail Blazers, 3am
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