SALT LAKE CITY -- It’s often stated that Game 3 is the most important in a seven-game series, regardless of sport. The Warriors and Jazz are at that point.
Up 2-0 in this Western Conference semifinal series, the Warriors look to take a commanding 3-0 lead Saturday when the teams gather at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. Pacific.
The Jazz, who lost each of the first two games by double-digit margins, will try to utilize the advantages of home. Only five NBA teams were better at home in the regular season than Utah, which was 29-12.
Warriors by 6.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant vs. Gordon Hayward: Hayward bounced back from a poor Game 1 to produce a strong Game 2, scoring a game-high 33 points. He benefitted from Warriors complacency. That’s something Andre Iguodala and Thompson, in particular, vow to fix. They’ll try to contain Hayward while also exploiting his defense. Durant seems ready for a breakout game.
Warriors: F Draymond Green (L knee tweak) did not practice Friday but is available to play. F Kevon Looney (L hip strain) is listed as out.
Jazz: G George Hill (L big toe sprain) was ruled out 90 minutes before tip-off. G Alec Burks (L knee recovery) is listed as out.
ROAD TO THE SERIES
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 Warriors posted wins in Games 1 and 2. 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 15 of the last 17 meetings overall.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
THE CROWD EFFECT: Jazz crowds are as notorious for subjecting opponents to abuse as they are for supporting their team. Given their chatter disparaging the relatively sparse local nightlife, the Warriors expect the worst. They’ve expressed the importance of a fast start in hopes of quieting the boisterous fan base.
THE PACE GAME: The Warriors in the first two games did a solid job of pushing tempo, dragging the Jazz into a faster pace. Aware that an uptempo game benefits them, the Warriors will continue that approach. They’ll want to be more careful with the ball than they were in Game 2, when they committed 17 turnovers.
THE DRAYMOND EFFECT: Draymond Green has been impactful at both ends in the Games 1 and 2, raining 3-pointers and piling up blocks and steals. He tweaked his knee late in Game 2, so his agility may be compromised. He says he’ll be fine. The Warriors expect him to play. His effectiveness is in question until he proves it’s not.