The Warriors are favored to take a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Jazz in Game 3 Saturday night (8:30 p.m. ET) at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Can Utah battle back? Doubtful.
Draymond Green was the man of the hour in Golden State’s 115-104 Game 2 victory over the Jazz Thursday night. The two-time All-Star had 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals, and a block. It was the 11th time Green dropped 20 points or more in the playoffs. The OVER is 8-3 in these contests, sailing past the game total by more 9.2 points. Former MVPs Steph Curry and Kevin Durant scored 23 and 25 points respectively. It’s the second time all season the trio tallied more than 20 points each.
For three years in a row, the Warriors have held the top seed in the Western Conference. Through the first two rounds of the playoffs, they are 22-4 SU and 14-12 ATS. Golden State has been favored in every one by an average of 9 points. Three of the four defeats occurred in a trio of road games in which the team lay less than 4.5 points. Curry missed two of these contests against the Rockets and Trail Blazers due to an injured ankle.
Speaking of injuries, Jazz point guard George Hill sat out Game 2 with a sore left big toe. Bad, but familiar news for Utah fans. It was the 34th game this season the former Pacer missed due to ailments (thumb, toe, lip, groin). Including the playoffs, nearly half of Utah’s losses occurred in his absence. The team went 18-16 SU (14-18-2 ATS) with Hill out and 37-20 SU (28-28-1 ATS) when suiting up. The Jazz’s average margin of victory jumps nearly three points with Hill starting. Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward are the stars of the team, but a veteran ball-handler like Hill is a vital addition to any unit. It is not known if Hill will be ready for Game 3.
The Jazz played too up-tempo in Game 2, unable to slow the Warriors. The 100.3 pace rating was the highest recorded in the playoffs for Utah. In fact, one has to go back to a March 3 encounter versus the Nets to uncover a matchup in which it played in a game with 95 possessions or more. This isn’t going to get it done against the Warriors. The offensive cannot hang.
Utah must get off to a better start, too. It put up 15 first-quarter points on 5-for-18 shooting in Game 2. The Warriors are outscoring the Jazz 30-18 in the second round. When Utah trailed by six or more points through the first 12 minutes of a game this season, it went 4-14 SU and 5-13 ATS. The team is not built to come from behind.
Since 2002, one-seeds with a two-game advantage are 7-8 SU and 7-7-1 ATS in Game 3 of the second round. Nearly half has tipped off as underdogs with the series shifting venues. Only twice has the favorite lay more than 5 points, winning and covering in each. Lay the points with Golden State, the Jazz have no answers.