On Tuesday night, the Golden State Warriors (58-23) travel to the Vivint Smart Home Arena to take on the Utah Jazz (47-33), with the tip off scheduled for 9:00 pm ET. This game features two playoff teams, but only one has something to play for as the Warriors have secured the second seed in the West, while the Jazz are fighting to maintain home court advantage in the first round.
After winning the NBA Finals in 2017, Golden State seemed like a team that would be unstoppable for years. Injury, though, has taken its toll on the Warriors this season and the Houston Rockets, behind MVP caliber play from James Harden, have secured the first seed. Steph Curry has only played in 51 games, Andre Iguodala in 64, Kevin Durant in 67, Draymond Green in 69, and Klay Thompson in 72. Curry has already been ruled out for this game and Iguodala will be a game time decision. With nothing really to play for in terms of seeding, it wouldn’t surprise me to see many regulars getting extended amounts of rest.
While the Warriors are guaranteed the second seed, there is still a lot of parity when it comes to the Utah Jazz. They currently sit at the fourth seed in the West. On the one hand, they are only one game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for third place, but on the other hand, they are only one game in front of the New Orleans Pelicans, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, who all share a 46-34 record. With two games left to play, the outcomes of these games can have huge ramifications on their playoff seed.
The spread comes in at the Golden State Warriors +7 and the Denver Nuggets -7. The over/under for total points scored is set at 212.
Warriors Looking to Even the Season Series
On Tuesday, the Warriors will look to even the season series after having dropped two of the three meetings this year, including a 91-110 loss on March 25th. In that game, which saw Curry, Durant, Green and Thompson all sit out, Quinn Cook was the leading scorer with 17 points in 34 minutes. In their last game, on Sunday, they beat the Phoenix Suns behind a 34-point effort from Klay Thompson and 17 points and 9 assists from Kevin Durant.
When healthy, this is still one of the most fearsome teams in the league. Kevin Durant (26.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists), Steph Curry (26.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists), Klay Thompson (20 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists) and Draymond Green (11.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 7.3 assists) still can lead a relentless attack that can exploit any matchup advantage. Again, though, with a lineup that has struggled to stay healthy, I just don’t know how much sense it is to run any of these guys out there on Tuesday.
Surprise Contender in Jazz Relying on Rookie, Donovan Mitchell
After losing Gordon Hayward in the offseason, many expected the Utah Jazz to take a step backwards; however, with sensational play from rookie Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz find themselves once again with a playoff berth, and in contention for home court advantage in the first round. Donovan Mitchell has averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, giving likely Rookie of the year Ben Simmons a run for his money.
Aside from Mitchell, they have been getting solid play this year from Ricky Rubio (13 points, 5.3 assists), Rudy Gobert (13.5 points, 10.8 rebounds), Joe Ingles (11.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists) and Derrick Favors (12.2 points, 7.2 rebounds). I don’t anticipate them going deep into the playoffs, but they have been a great story, and they would love nothing more than to win the season series against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year.
Jazz Down Warriors
I would just be shocked if many of the regulars for the Warriors played meaningful minutes in this game. With nothing to play for, why risk injuries in what has already been an injury-riddled season.? With that in mind, I am taking the Utah Jazz, who definitely have something to play for, at the -7. Pick: Utah Jazz – 7