Western Conference Semi Finals Preview

Warriors vs. Jazz

The Utah Jazz earned a hard fought 7 game series win over the Las Angeles Clippers to advance to the second round of the playoffs. The Top Seeded Warriors easily disposed of the 8th seeded Portland Trailblazers in their quest to get back to the finals.

Matchups

Point Guard- Stephen Curry vs. George Hill
Curry had to adjust to the addition of Kevin Durant earlier in the season and while the team won games he clearly took a step back in order to accommodate a player of Durant’s abilities. Now late in the season Curry and Durant have learned to play alongside one another and since Durant missed 2 games in the first round the Warriors have proven to be able to win playoff games without Durant. Curry’s willingness to sacrifice may end up reaping the ultimate reward with another Finals appearance in June. Hill is a savvy playoff veteran who should provide a nice defensive presence and it will be needed with the star power the Warriors have at the guard position.
Advantage- Warriors

Shooting Guard- Klay Thompson vs. Joe Ingles
Thompson had a rough start to the season as he was the most affected by the addition of Durant. As the season wore on he got more comfortable and remains one of the best two way players in the league. Ingles is a tough 2 way player with tremendous instincts. His outside shooting will keep the defense honest and he is a capable defender. His ability to defend Curry, Durant, and Thompson will be a key to the Jazz’s chances
Advantage – Warriors

Small Forward- Kevin Durant vs. Gordon Hayward
Durant is one of the top scorers in the league. His only problem could be injury as he missed games 2 and 3 of the previous round. If healthy he is a matchup nightmare for any team and he makes the Warriors extremely tough to beat over a 7 game series. Hayward has evolved into one of the best players in the league. He can play off the ball or initiate the offense. Remains to be seen how the matchups will be as far as defensive assignments but expect that they will likely defend one another often.
Advantage – Warriors

Power Forward- Draymond Green vs. Boris Diaw
Green is arguably the best “two-way” player in the league. He stuffs the stat sheet and can defend any player on the opposing team. He is the perfect fit to play alongside such talented offensive players. Diaw started against the Clippers however it remains to be seen if he will against the Warriors. He may be better off playing minutes at Center as opposed to power forward as the Jazz will need to be able to run the court with the up tempo Warriors. Diaw has tons of playoff experience which can only help.
Advantage – Warriors

Center- Zaza Pachulia vs. Rudy Gobert
Pachulia is the starter and backup Javelle Mcgee will see time but the Warriors are most known for their “Death Lineup” where Green moves over to Center. Gobert is big enough and talented enough to perhaps force the Warriors to keep a natural big man on the floor. Will be interesting to see if Green can deal with the skills and size of Gobert.
Advantage- Jazz

Bench
The Warriors are deep with the standout being Andre Iguodala who is a perfect fit with his defensive versatility. Veterans David West and Shaun Livingston will also contribute. Veteran Joe Johnson was a star for the Jazz in the first round and has experience as a go to guy in clutch situations. Big man Derrick Favors and guard Rodney Hood will also play key minutes
Advantage – Even

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