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.

Steve Kerr jokes about wanting to trade spots with Andre Iguodala

Steve Kerr jokes about wanting to trade spots with Andre Iguodala

Steve Kerr has accomplished a lot during his playing and coaching career.

He played four seasons for Lute Olson at Arizona. He spent 15 years playing in the NBA, and won five NBA titles during that time.

As a coach, Kerr has made the NBA Finals in each of his first four seasons with the Warriors, and has won three championships.

If you're Steve Kerr, there aren't many people you'd want to trade places with.

Except, there is one Warriors player Kerr would like to be.

"I definitely would trade spots with Andre [Iguodala]," Kerr said on Friday on 95.7 The Game. "I can only imagine what it has felt like to be Andre iguodala over the last 20 years playing basketball. That kind of athleticism, intelligence and feel, I could only dream about being the player he is."

Iguodala, a first-round pick in 2004, has won three titles with Kerr, was named NBA Finals MVP in 2015, was selected to the 2012 NBA All-Star Game and will have earned nearly $170 million through contracts by the time his deal with the Warriors is up.

So, we can understand why Kerr might want to trade places with Iguodala.

[RELATED: Iguodala reveals reason for improved play]

Kerr was asked a really tough question by host Damon Bruce: Who had the better playing career as an Arizona Wildcat, himself or Iguodala?

"How do I answer that?" Kerr joked. "I guess I did because I was there five years and he was there two years."

Dirk Nowitzki remembers one thing most about 2007 Game 6 loss to Warriors

Dirk Nowitzki remembers one thing most about 2007 Game 6 loss to Warriors

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Saturday afternoon at 4 P.T., streaming live on the MyTeams app.

May 3, 2017 is a special day in Golden State Warriors history.

The No. 8 seed Warriors knocked off the No. 1 seed Mavericks in Game 6 at Oracle Arena to advance to the Western Conference Semifinals.

Dirk Nowitzki -- who was named MVP about two weeks later -- had one of the worst games of his career. He scored just eight points and went 2-for-13 from the field.

But it was something that took place off the court that stands out more than anything for Dirk when he thinks about that difficult day.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic has the details:

“Crazy atmosphere,” Dirk remembered. “Crazy. One of the loudest buildings I’ve been in. The fans were so in it, any run they had.”

What does Dirk remember most? The pregame tailgates.

“It doesn’t happen much in basketball,” Dirk said. “Happens more in football, when the fans cookout before. But that was the case when we drove up to the arena two-and-a-half hours, three hours before tip.

“Fans were out there flipping us off, mooning us on our way in. It was crazy. As a competitor, fun to play, but it kind of pushed them to another level. The fans were a big part of that.”

On Saturday night, Dirk will play at Oracle for the last time in his career.

The crowds might not be as consistently loud as they were during the "We Believe" run in 2007, but the man who has scored the sixth most points in NBA history has a lot of respect for the people who have filled up Oracle over the years.

[RELATEDSteph Curry will not play when Warriors host Luka Doncic, Mavericks]

“Oracle was always a fun place to play,” Nowitzki told The Athletic. “Even in the years early in my career, when the team wasn’t good, I thought the fans were always amazing there. Always great crowds. Always loud when they made runs. A great stop.

“They say the fans have changed a little bit. Because, yeah, obviously the ticket prices are a little higher than they used to be 20 years ago. But I didn’t really notice. It’s still super loud. Honestly, when Steph gets on one of his runs and starts shooting 3s from 35 feet, the place goes absolutely bonkers.”

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