SALT LAKE CITY -- The Warriors say they know what to expect when they take the floor Saturday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena to face the Utah Jazz in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series.
They’ll be subjected to noise, noise and more noise from the 19,911 in the building.
There likely will be considerable abuse from a crowd with a reputation for boisterousness that some have claimed advanced to abuse.
“It’ll be fun,” guard Klay Thompson said. “This place has a long history of being rowdy in the playoffs, so I’m excited to experience it.”
Said Thompson’s backcourt sidekick Stephen Curry: “I know it’ll be loud, and a hostile environment. You’ve got to expect that and stick together as a team.”
The Warriors, at 31-10, were the NBA’s best road team. Built around players -- Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson -- who have felt slighted and disrespected at various points of their evolution, the Warriors enjoy making statements on the road.
“It’s important for us to come out and punch first,” guard Shaun Livingston said.
“It’s always fun to win on the road, whether it’s the preseason or the regular reason or the playoffs,” Thompson said. “But, obviously, the playoffs make it that much sweeter. The fans are really invested, especially in Utah. So it’ll be fun to take on this challenge.”
Only five NBA teams posted a better home record than Utah’s 29-12. That’s a credit to the coaching and roster, as well as the altitude (4,265 feet). The vociferous crowd also may be a factor.
The Warriors invited a bit of enmity earlier this week with comments disparaging the nightlife, of lack thereof, in Salt Lake City. The locals wasted no time in designing and manufacturing T-shirts mocking the relatively tame insult.
“They cheer pretty loud for their team, and obviously, with a few things that went on this past week, it will probably be a bit hostile,” said Draymond Green.
With the Warriors being up 2-0 in the series, there could be a bit of desperation, if not from the Jazz then certainly from their fans, who realize another loss puts their team one game from elimination.
The Jazz were encouraged by their performance in Game 2, when they consistently sliced into deficits as large as 20 points. They got within six in the third quarter and seven in the fourth.
Every Utah rally, however, was met with the Warriors pushing back.
“The true test of champions and teams that are clicking well is if a team makes a run and closes the gap a little bit, how you respond,” Curry said. “Do you cave? Do you start pointing fingers at each other? Do you lose energy? Or do you respond with aggressiveness and confidence that we can get the momentum back on our side?
“We’ve answered those calls pretty well these first two games. Obviously, it’ll be a test to do it when the crowd is rocking.”