Time off is a serious motivational tool. It works at your office/school, and it worked for the Golden State Warriors Monday night.
Close out the Jazz in a sweep Monday and the Warriors could be off a week or more, depending on how long the Spurs and Rockets keep beating each other up.
Golden State came out firing — the threes were falling, the ball was moving, and they were aggressive on defense then turning missed shots and turnovers into transition buckets the other way. The result was a fast 20-point lead (33-13) and a 22 point Golden State lead after one.
Utah battled, they got 25 from Gordon Hayward who made some plays and tough shots, helping the Jazz get the lead down to single digits a couple of times (including 8 at the half), but they could never completely make up the gap. Golden State pulled away in the fourth quarter for the 121-95 win.
Golden State sweeps the series and will go home and await San Antonio or Houston. Eventually.
“It was important for us to close out this series, you never want to drag a series out and suddenly you get knick-knack injuries and all those things,” Draymond Green told NBA TV after the game. “Close it out, get that rest, and get ready for the next round.
Curry had 30 points on 15 shots, Klay Thompson added 21, and Green had a triple-double of 17 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds.
Jazz fans sent their stars off with a huge ovation as they were taken out — there were “Gor-Don Hay-Ward” chants after he was removed from the game and after the final buzzer, just to show how much they love him in Utah (consider it an attempted Celtics vaccine). Fans should shower the Jazz with love. Utah was a team battling injuries all season long — Utah’s preferred starters were together for just 13 games this season, and George Hill missed this one (his third straight game out this series) — to get 51 wins and advance to the second round of the playoffs. That is a huge step forward, maybe faster than even they expected.
“We had a really good year, and that’s a really good team,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said after the game. “I couldn’t be more proud coaching this group.”
It’s the kind of season that will make it hard for Hayward to walk away as a free agent this summer. But that’s another discussion.
Monday night was not their night. And it was that way right from the start. Golden State had an offensive rating of 156 (points per 100 possessions) in the first quarter while the Jazz started the game 3-of-18 from the floor. The Warriors had more assists (9) in the first quarter than the Jazz had made baskets (6).
It was a 22-point game after one, but the Jazz cut that to eight by the half and five at one point in the third quarter. Shelvin Mack had a huge 11 point third quarter, and Hayward had a dozen in the quarter. Utah worked and made it a game.
“I wish we would have started the game better,” Snyder said. “But what happened happened. We got blitzed. It would have been easy for that game to run away early, for us to keep it, throughout the course of the game to keep with within striking distance, speaks to how they approached the whole year.”
Led by Curry and Green, in the fourth the Warriors did Warriors things and pulled away. They did what they had to do to get the rest they wanted.
Both the Warriors and the Cavaliers are now 8-0 through the first two rounds of the playoffs, the first time that teams in both conferences have swept through the first two rounds. Both are resting, and both seem on a collision course.