Preview: Can Warriors avoid season sweep by Jazz?

The Utah Jazz are on the road tonight, rolling into Chase Center carrying brooms, looking to sweep their season series 4-0 against the limping Golden State Warriors.

Will the rehabilitating Dubs defend their home court and knock off Utah for the first time this year?

GAME DETAILS

WHO: Golden State Warriors (10-35) vs Utah Jazz (30-13)

WHEN: Wednesday, January 22, 2020; 7:00 pm PST

WATCH: NBCSBA, ATRM

  • Stephen Curry (hand) out

  • Klay Thompson (knee) out

  • Kevon Looney (abdominal) out

  • Jacob Evans (concussion) questionable

  • Glenn Robinson III (ankle) probable

Season Series: Jazz lead 3-0

Utah is a formidable squad, led by explosive combo guard Donovan Mitchell and giant rim-protection from reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. They are currently tied for the third seed with the Denver Nuggets in the West, and have won of 9 of their last 10 games.

I’m sure they’ve already seduced plenty of basketball observers into awed whispers of their “dark horse” potential… AGAIN.

Definition of “dark horse”: a candidate or competitor about whom little is known but who unexpectedly wins or succeeds.

Oxford Dictionary

Vice coined this expectation in 2017: “The Utah Jazz Are Dark Horse Contenders”.

And the Washington Post echoed it in the 2018 playoffs: “The Utah Jazz have emerged as a dark horse in the conference.”

And Fansided mulled it before the 2019 season: “How can the Utah Jazz capitalize on being dark horse darlings?”

And yet, the Jazz haven’t advanced past the second round since 2007, suffering gentleman’s sweeps in their last two playoff trips. Will the addition of battle-hardened point guard Mike Conley be enough to propel them to the next level? Or shall they continue to be regular season wonders who are outclassed when the basketball matters most?

At any rate, they’re going to be a serious problem for the Warriors tonight.

The Dubs are at the bottom of the league, losers of 9 of their last 10, fresh off a difficult overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Utah is normally a handful for the full strength Warriors; tonight the Jazz could very easily put a beatdown on this depleted club.

Warriors to Watch

Alec Burks

The Jazz drafted Burks 12th overall in 2011, one spot after the Warriors snagged Washington State Cougars legend Klay Thompson. After eight years with Utah, Burks briefly bounced around the NBA before landing on the Dubs, where he’s been a thorn in his old team’s side.

In three games against Utah this season (two as a starter), Burks is averaging 18 points on 48% shooting from the field. There are only two other teams he shoots a better FG% against: Charlotte (61%) and Boston (51%). Burks is also shooting a red-hot 46% from downtown against Utah this year.

Marquese Chriss

The recently released-but-then-resigned center prospect put up arguably his best game as a Dub in a December loss to Utah. That night he tallied team highs in rebounds (13) and assists (5), while chipping in 12 points and 2 blocks.

What to Watch Out For

Jazz’s 3-PT offense

Last time these teams met, the Jazz unleashed a hellacious three-point barrage on Golden State’s tattered defense, connecting on 16-of-38 from deep. Bojan Bogdanovic led the aerial assault with a career-high eight triples; here’s a highlight from his night:

Oops, I meant this one:

Utah is shooting 38% from three-point range on the season. That figure bumps up to 43% in their three wins over Golden State. The Warriors better be airtight on their rotations tonight, or they will likely get bombed on again.

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