The Warriors are soft.
Utah's starters all had solid games as all five of them were in double figures.
While Stephen Curry has shot the ball well, it's been Draymond Green who has dominated the series for the Warriors. He scorched the nets for the better part of 48 minutes. Even then the Warriors would have the edge with two of the three games scheduled to take place in Golden State.
With the exception of Gordon Hayward, and Rudy Gobert to a smaller degree, the Jazz have struggled offensively as open looks have been hard to come by in the series. With a little more than six minutes left, the Jazz held an 80-79 lead, a noteworthy event given that the Warriors had scored wire-to-wire double-digit wins in both Game 1 and Game 2. With that chance squandered away, game four could get ugly right out of the gate.
"We're going to build around what we've done, keep the same attitude and keep competing", center Rudy Gobert said. The Warriors met adversity, and answered it.
Kevin Durant is unstoppable in this series.
Meanwhile, Durant slowly sliced apart Utah's defense. He was a killer, doing things that the Jazz just could not respond to because when Durant is locked in, he's unstoppable.
"You look at the whole game and say that your team really competed, played good defense", Utah head coach Quin Snyder said, "and then you look at two of the best players in the game and say they made some unbelievable shots that were very timely". They relied on him, but also enabled him. They also landed a quick and long defender, capable of covering from the three-point line to the rim, to slot into their snakes' nest of long and versatile defenders. The over/under total for Game 3 is listed at 207.5 points. "At least we want to get a shot up..."
Game 4 is Monday at 9 EST. And after playing three games at the end of the regular season, Durant suffered a calf injury in Game 1 of the opening round. However, down the stretch, back-to-back 3-pointers by Curry and Durant with three minutes left gave the Warriors an out-of-reach eight-point advantage. The odd tempo and busted sets seemed to ice the entire team except Durant. Normally those types of numbers from the Warriors backcourt would mean a loss, and potentially an ugly one. Game 4 is all but certain death for the Utah Jazz. The Warriors did find themselves in the NBA Finals for their second consecutive year, but the Cleveland Cavaliers ended up being the team to bring the Warriors season to an end. If he can drain over 35 points in a playoff game once, he likely can do it again.
The Warriors, though, prevailed yet again with a 102-91 win.
The Warriors managed to take a 72-70 lead into the fourth despite shooting just 8-of-24 from the field in the third. Brown next swapped in McGee for Green, and the Warriors' pressure on Gobert continued.
Gobert isn't the most mobile of bigs out on the perimeter. The combination of the Iguodala and McGee substitutions was a 14-4 run that catapulted the Warriors back into the lead.
No team in the history of the National Basketball Association playoffs has ever run the table and gone a ideal 16-0 from the opening round to lifting the Larry O'Brien Trophy. In the fourth quarter, Green, Thompson, Durant and McGee delivered a variety of terrific, possession-robbing defensive stops. The trio of Curry, Durant and Green has been too much for the Jazz. As Utah's composure crumbled, the Warriors' focus only seemed to increase. "And everybody can make plays in that group". Besides those two, no one else scored any points off the bench for Utah.
They know what it is like to win a championship. Durant was half right. He was called for a Flagrant 1 (upgraded to a Flagrant 2 upon review) for kicking Oklahoma City's Steven Adams in the crotch while flailing his leg in the Western Conference finals.
Enter Kevin Durant. The former NBA Most Valuable Player poured in 38 points on 15-of-26 shooting and collected 13 rebounds.
"Some shots we shot felt like turnovers", Durant said with a smile on Sunday. Much like his French counterpart, Durant is a physical freak of nature.