Golden State Warriors vs Utah Jazz: Lineups, preview & prediction 25/3/18

The Warriors will regain Draymond Green but lose Steph Curry, and will be up against it on the road against the Jazz

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The Jazz have gone close to cementing their place in the playoffs, but two losses in their past three games have kept them vulnerable. Their most recent loss was a 120-124 overtime thriller against fellow playoff hopeful the Spurs. This loss sent Utah’s record to 41-32, which leaves them in eighth place in the east.

They will hope to return to the winners’ list when they host the Warriors on Sunday. Golden State had the first of their four stars return to the court when Steph Curry played against Atlanta, but the champion point guard injured his MCL and will now miss three weeks.

The injury-ravaged Warriors are in second place with a 54-18 record in the West and don’t appear likely to move. They are ten games ahead of Portland in third, and 4.5 games behind the Rockets.

Three keys to the game

Golden State’s injury list – Draymond Green is expected to return to the lineup in this game, but the Warriors will still be without Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant. As good as they are, such an injury list is devastating, and they are a run-of-the-mill side without their three offensive superstars. Green’s return will help, but will it be enough?

Utah’s defense – For an extended period, the Jazz have been comfortably the best defensive team in the league. They have, however, wavered a little in the last couple of games, allowing Dallas to score 112 points on Thursday before having 124 scored on them by the Spurs, albeit with an overtime period.

Motivation – With their stars injured and very little prospect of moving places in the standings, the Warriors have little reason to be motivated to win this game. In contrast, the Jazz are hovering just 2.5 games ahead of Denver in ninth, and need to win a few more games if they want to feature in the playoffs. This added motivation could give them the edge in this game.

Matchup to watch

Nick Young vs Donovan Mitchell – Whether these two match up directly against one another will be up to the coaches, but the two guards will put in entertaining performances, regardless. Mitchell has stunned fans with his outstanding rookie season, averaging 20.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.5 steals per game.

Young hasn’t received a lot of game time for his new Warriors side and is scoring just 7.3 points per game in 16.3 minutes of action, but with their current injury list, he is getting a lot more time on the floor. He has scored in double figures in all of his last five games and is averaging 17.6 points in this time, and against the Hawks hit six 3-pointers on his way to 24 points.

Utah Jazz predicted starting lineup

PG – Ricky Rubio | SG – Donovan Mitchell | SF – Joe Ingles | PF – Derrick Favors | C – Rudy Gobert

Golden State Warriors predicted starting lineup

PG – Quinn Cook | SG – Nick Young | SF – Jordan Bell | PF – Draymond Green | C – Zaza Pachulia

Fantasy tip

Utah demolished the Warriors by 30 points when the sides last met, and Rubio was a key reason for the win. The former Timberwolves point guard scored 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting and dished out 11 assists in the victory. Favors also proved difficult for the Warriors to handle. He went 9-for-11 from the floor and contributed 18 points, ten rebounds, two steals and a block for his Jazz.

Betting tip

Utah have been handicapped 3.5 points in this game, and they will blow straight past this. The Warriors side at the moment is the shadow of the champions they normally are, and Utah are a good side in excellent form. The Jazz will win this game easily, so back them to cover the line.

Prediction

If the Warriors were healthy, this would be an excellent game, but with their injury list the way it is the Jazz should have no problem earning a relatively comfortable win. The inexperience of the Warriors will be contrasted against a disciplined Utah side, and Golden State will struggle to score with the best defender in the league, Gobert, clogging the paint.

Their backcourt combination of Rubio and Mitchell is looking much more dangerous now than two months ago, and they will put in a good performance matched up against Young and Cook. Alongside the sharpshooting of Ingles, they’ll lead Utah to a 110-98 win at home.

TV info

The game will be broadcast locally on AT&T Sportsnet – Rocky Mountain and NBC Bay Sports Area. Tip-off is at 8:30pm ET.

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