After a red hot start to the season for the Golden State Warriors, they’ve hit somewhat of a rough patch. After a 29-7 start to the season, the Warriors have gone 4-6 in their last ten games and have posted a mediocre +0.3 NET Rating in that time span, which would rank 16th in the NBA. That is a very drastic difference from their +7.7 NET Rating for the entirety of the season up to this point.
A major reason for the Dubs’s recent struggles is due to the injury suffered by Draymond Green, who has been sidelined for the past nine games (technically eight games and seven seconds) due to a calf injury. He is expected to miss at least another week as a result of this injury as well.
Without Draymond, the Warriors lose a generational defensive presence who is such a vital aspect of their interior help and the communication of the team defense as a whole. On top of that, Green is the Warriors’ best passer who excels at getting Steph and Klay the ball in perfect shooting pockets and is great at threading the needle and finding open cutters.
However, make no mistake. Despite the Warriors struggling as of late and missing some key players, they’re still an extremely dangerous team that can beat anyone on any given night. They face one of their toughest challenges at home against the Utah Jazz Sunday Night at 8:30 PM ET.
For the Jazz, they themselves have been in somewhat of a slump, going 4-6 in their last ten games and posting a NET Rating of -1.4, which would be 18th in the league during that time frame. Similar to Golden State, that is a very drastic difference from their +7.4 NET Rating for the entirety of the season up to this point.
Like the Warriors, Utah will be missing their superstar and best offensive player Donovan Mitchell as a result of concussion protocols due to a hit he took prior to halftime during their game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Without Mitchell, the Jazz lose their best scorer and one of their best playmakers as well in a game against another Western Conference powerhouse that can have major implications down the line.
However, similar to the Warriors, they’re also capable of beating any team on any given night.
How the Jazz can win:
Need everyone to see this https://t.co/0ZYJCNeb7w
— Pranav Sriraman (@PranavSriraman) January 18, 2022
The Jazz will miss the scoring punch provided by Donovan Mitchell tonight and won’t be in a position where he could bail them out offensively, but they still have a clear path to being successful without him on offense.
They need to continuously move the ball and set up open three-point opportunities, as they’re the sixth-best three-point shooting team in the association and more importantly, they need to be able to locate Rudy Gobert on offense and utilize the massive mismatches that he draws.
Gobert is having by far the best scoring season of his career, averaging 16 points per game on an absurd 73.3% true shooting. A lot of his opportunities are created for him through pick-and-roll bounce passes and lobs, but when a mismatch in the post presents itself, the Jazz must be able to locate him and allow him to assert his dominance on the inside.
Defensively, Utah will always be challenged on the perimeter, especially against a team like the Warriors who have such great perimeter talent offensively, yet they will always be kept in a game because of how dominant Rudy Gobert is inside and how his presence alone makes other offensive players hesitant to even challenge him. The perimeter defenders on the Jazz need to be timely on their rotations, attempt to trap Steph Curry when he is receiving hand-offs and going behind screens, and funnel Warriors players inside so that Gobert can take care of them.
The path to victory is much more difficult without Donovan Mitchell, but it is far from impossible.
How the Warriors can win:
I’ve seen enough from Klay tonight to know that he will be fine. The concerns were with speed, explosiveness and lateral movement and he’s checked those boxes as he looks the exact same. The shot will be ok. Defense obviously needs a larger sample.
— Pranav Sriraman (@PranavSriraman) January 10, 2022
The path to success for the Warriors will be more difficult without Draymond Green, but they’ve proven before against this very same Utah Jazz team that they’re capable of taking them down without Green, in Utah, with Donovan Mitchell healthy.
Defensively, the Warriors’ wing defenders suffocated Mitchell and forced him into putting up several contested shots which led to him shooting an abysmal 4/19 from the field. Their job is a lot easier Sunday night as they don’t have to worry about disrupting Mitchell and limiting his production offensively, which will give them the flexibility of not having to send traps as frequently and focus more on the other scoring talent on the Jazz.
Offensively, the Warriors need to maximize their opportunities on attacking the Jazz’s weak perimeter defense. That starts at the top with their superstar, Stephen Curry.
The Spread Via FanDuel:
Utah Jazz +5.5, (+184) Money Line
Golden State Warriors -5.5, (-220) Money Line
Final Prediction: Golden State Warriors 107, Utah Jazz 98