NBA Gameday: Nobody on Jazz stands much of a chance vs Durant

NBA Gameday: Nobody on Jazz stands much of a chance vs Durant

Programming note: Warriors-Jazz Game 1 coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Playoff Central on NBC Sports Bay Area Plus, and streaming live right here.

UPDATE (5:45pm on Tuesday): Matt Barnes (right ankle/foot sprain) is available to play in Game 1 against the Jazz, interim head coach Mike Brown announced about two hours before tip-off. An hour later, the Warriors announced that Shaun Livingston (right index finger sprain and hand contusion) is also available to play.


OAKLAND -- Ten years after the “We Believe” Warriors were ousted from the playoffs by the Jazz, today’s Warriors have an opportunity to even the score.

It will be a distinct clash of styles when the teams meet Tuesday night at Oracle Arena for Game 1 of this Western Conference Semifinals series. The Warriors play at the fourth fastest pace in the NBA, while Utah is dead last in that category.

Utah could gain an edge entering Game 1 insofar as it is two days removed from a seven-game series, while the Warriors are coming off an eight-day layoff and initially could show signs of rust.

Warriors by 13

Kevin Durant vs. Gordon Hayward: Though shooting guard Klay Thompson will be primary defender on Hayward, the Durant-Hayward dynamic at small forward is intriguing. The Warriors can go after Utah’s lone All-Star with waves of defenders, including Durant, who is a solid defender. Containing Hayward is key, as the Jazz are 37-10 when he scores at least 20 points. On the other side, neither Hayward nor Joe Ingles nor any of their teammates stand much chance of containing Durant.

Warriors: F Matt Barnes (R foot bone bruise) is listed as probable. G Shaun Livingston (R finger sprain/hand contusion) is listed as questionable. F Kevon Looney (L hip strain) is listed as out.

Jazz: F Derrick Favors (back soreness) is listed as questionable. G Alec Burks (L knee recovery) is listed as out.

The Warriors finished the regular season with the league’s best record (67-15) and swept Portland in the first round.

The Jazz (51-31) finished with the No. 5 seed and in the first round eliminated the Clippers in seven games.

The teams met three times in the regular season, with the Warriors winning the first two games: 106-99 on Dec. 8 in Utah and 104-74 on Dec. 20 at Oracle Arena. The Jazz posted a 105-99 victory on April 10 at Oracle. The Warriors have won 13 of the last 15 meetings overall.

THE PACE GAME: With each team attempting to impose its style on the other, discipline will be key. The Jazz will try to lull the Warriors to sleep, a strategy that has had mixed success at best. The Warriors will try to use high-energy defense to disrupt Utah in hopes of forcing the Jazz to feel they have to rush.

THE GOBERT FACTOR: Jazz big man Rudy Gobert, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, is a fabulous shot-blocker (led the league) and rebounder (finished fourth). The Warriors are fully aware he’s playing on a tender left ankle, and that limitation could prompt him to reach and leave him vulnerable to committing fouls.

THE POINT MEN: Stephen Curry is the reigning league MVP, and George Hill is as valuable to the Jazz as anyone on their roster. Hill is an underrated scorer, but when he produces well it generally results in a victory. Curry started to heat up late in the first round. If he picks up where he left off, the Warriors gain a decided edge.

Kevin Durant ruled out for at least two weeks


Kevin Durant ruled out for at least two weeks

OAKLAND -- The Warriors will return to their relatively normal selves sometime early next month.

That’s at the very soonest, and assuming all goes well over the next three weeks.

Add Kevin Durant to the list of All-Stars who will miss significant time. The forward underwent an MRI test Friday that revealed “an incomplete rib cartilage fracture” that will keep him out of the lineup at least two weeks.

Durant, the team’s leading scorer at 26.6 points per game, joins No. 2 scorer Stephen Curry and No. 3 scorer Klay Thompson on the sideline. Curry will be out at least another week, Thompson closer to two weeks.

The upshot: The Warriors' slim chance of overtaking the Rockets for the No. 1 overall seed are fading toward invisibility.

With the playoffs four weeks away, Warriors coach Steve Kerr will spend the rest of this month juggling lineups and rotations with the limited available options.

The first replacement starter at small forward, Friday night against Sacramento, is Andre Iguodala. Kerr over the next couple weeks likely will try several options. Omri Casspi is another possibility, as well as Draymond Green getting some minutes at small forward. The decisions will be based mostly on matchups.

Durant, however, may be the ultimate NBA mismatch insofar as there is no other 6-foot-11 small forward with his broad skills and versatility.

“They said (I’ll be out) a couple weeks,” he said prior to tipoff against the Kings. “I’m just trying to get healthy. Just trying to make sure I’m out there and able to be me on the court.

“It’s not great, timing-wise, but it’s all about feeling better when I’m out there playing.”

Durant sustained the injury last Sunday in Minnesota, after taking an elbow to the ribs from Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.

“I thought it was just a little contusion,” said Durant, who will not go on the upcoming road trip to Phoenix and San Antonio.

Durant played through the discomfort Wednesday night against the Lakers, leading the Warriors in scoring with 26 points. During that game, he went to close out and “felt something stretch and pull.”

After going through a light practice Thursday, pain intensified, leading to the MRI test and diagnosis.

“I wish we were out there hooping and using these days to get better and sharpening up our skills,” he said. “But that’s what happens when you play a contact sport. Stuff happens.

“It could have been worse for all three of us. But, luckily, it’s not.”

With Durant out vs Kings, a 30-point game for Nick Young not out of the question


With Durant out vs Kings, a 30-point game for Nick Young not out of the question

OAKLAND -- Though Draymond Green and David West will return to the lineup, Kevin Durant won’t be available Friday night when the Warriors face the Sacramento Kings at Oracle Arena.

Durant took a blow to the ribs two nights ago against the Lakers and was declared out after shootaround Friday morning. The additions of Green, who missed one game, and West, who missed six, are enough to position the Warriors (52-16) to make amends for a 110-106 home loss to lowly Sacramento in November.

The Kings (22-47), in the midst of youth movement, are 4-4 in March, their best eight-game start of any month since going 5-3 in February 2017.


Warriors by 9


Quinn Cook vs. De’Aaron Fox: While Cook is keeping the PG seat warm until Stephen Curry returns, Fox is quickly becoming a foundational player for the Kings. The rookie’s late-game exploits are particularly impressive; he’s 3-of-3 on game-tying or go-ahead shots in the last five seconds of games. Cook won’t be intimidated, but this is his fourth consecutive start so it’s time he plays as if he belongs.


C/F David West (R arm cyst) is available. C/F Jordan Bell (R ankle tweak) and G Quinn Cook (R hand contusion) are listed as probable. G Stephen Curry (R ankle tweak), F Kevin Durant (R rib soreness), G Pat McCaw (L wrist fracture) and G Klay Thompson (R thumb fracture) are listed as out.

Kings: F Harry Giles (Bi-lateral knee rehabilitation) and G Iman Shumpert (L knee rehabilitation and L plantar fasciitis) are listed as out.


Warriors: 8-2. Kings: 4-6.


Scott Foster (crew chief), Marat Kogut, Dedric Taylor


The teams split the first two of four games this season, the Kings with a 110-106 win on Nov. 27 in Oakland and the Warriors taking a 119-104 victory on Feb. 2 in Sacramento. The Warriors won three of four last season and are 12-2 against the Kings in the Steve Kerr era.


THE SECOND UNIT: Though the starting lineup is pure makeshift, West’s return puts the second unit in position to do damage. He’s having a terrific season and he’ll be reunited with fellow vets Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston. This group should be able to create separation against the Sacramento reserves.

THE TURNOVER TOTAL: The Warriors committed 40 turnovers in the first two games against Sacramento, giving the Kings 44 points. They committed 22 giveaways Wednesday against the Lakers, giving them 29 point. The Warriors already know if they open the upset door, the Kings are capable of walking through.

SWAGGY 3 TIME: The Kings rank dead last at defending the 3-point line. Rookie SG Bogdan Bogdanovic can shoot from deep but is lost on D. If ever there were a game to invite the best of Nick Young, this is it. A 30-point night is not out of the question.