Seven storylines surrounding Jazz heading into Warriors series
Jazz to face Warriors in Conference semis
After winning their first playoff series since 2010, the Utah Jazz roll into Oakland to face the No. 1 seeded Golden State Warriors. With no true superstar on the roster, Quin Snyder will rely on a group effort from his club as they look to upset the best the Western Conference has to offer. Here are seven things to look for as the series opens at Oracle Arena Tuesday night. (Photo via USATSI)
1. Can ISO-Joe be a difference maker?
After averaging just 9.2 points in 23.6 minutes a night for Quin Snyder during the regular season, 16-year NBA vet Joe Johnson came to play in the Clippers series. Johnson, 35, averaged 15.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 32 minutes per game versus LA, including huge performances in game one and four. Golden State has plenty of wing defenders to throw at the 7-time All-Star, but he he carved up Luc Mbah a Moute and plenty of others in round one. (Photo via AP)
2. Is this the final hurrah for Gordon Hayward in Utah?
Hayward is the Jazz’ lone All-Star this season, but he has a $16.7 million player option for next season. He’ll opt out and look for max money and Utah will beg him to stay. The 27-year-old wing has a tough decision, although players seem to love suiting up for Snyder. (Photo via USATSI)
3. Rudy Gobert is a one-man wrecking crew in the middle...
...but can Gobert stay on the floor when the Warriors go small? Gobert is a giant that not only led the league in blocks at 2.6 per game, but he alters plenty of looks as he attacks from the weak side. The 7-foot-1 Frenchmen can get up and down the court, but whether he can keep up with the Warriors frenetic pace is another question. (Photo via AP)
4. Will Derrick Favors finally live up to his enormous potential?
The third overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft has taken his sweet time developing into an NBA regular. After back-to-back solid seasons, the 25-year-old power forward struggled during the 2016-17 season. Those struggles melted away in the first round when he posted a huge 17-point, 11-rebounds performance in game seven. He has the talent to give teams fits, but he needs to find consistency if he hopes to help his team advance. (Photo via AP)
5. George Hill and Boris Diaw bring Spurs experience to the table.
This is a young team with about as good a veteran core as you can hope for. The additions of Hill and Diaw in the offseason helped changed the course of this franchise. They don’t just bring playoff experience, they bring a calmness that comes from playing for one of the league’s premier programs. (Photo via USATSI)
6. Who is Joe Ingles and why is he always on my TV screen?
Utah is a team of role players and Ingles is exactly that. The 29-year-old Australian wing played big minutes for Snyder in round one and while his numbers don’t jump off the page, he does all of the little things. Every team needs one of these guys. He can hit a three, pass the ball and he averaged two steals per game against the Clippers. They call him Slo-Mo Joe, but the Warriors better not sleep on him. (Photo via USATSI)
7. Will Rodney Hood be a factor?
The 24-year-old sharpshooter had a quiet first round with plenty of his minutes going elsewhere. He has the size to compete with the Klay Thompson’s of the world, but he has to be more assertive if he hopes to garner major minutes against the Warriors. (Photo via USATSI)