SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors had been coy about how a lot they have got been staring at the Western Conference standings. Some have admitted to tracking them. Others have stated they are an afterthought.
But, heading into Saturday’s recreation in opposition to the Utah Jazz, there used to be now not one particular person in Golden State’s locker room who wasn’t acutely aware of the sport’s implications.
A win would permit the Warriors to sit down in 3rd position with a one-game benefit over the Dallas Mavericks. It would additionally give them the tiebreaker in opposition to the Jazz, making sure they would have a top-five spot within the West if the 2 had the similar document on the finish of the common season.
“Oh yeah, [we were] well aware,” Warriors trainer Steve Kerr stated. “We didn’t talk about it a whole lot as a team, but the guys know. … I told it to the coaching staff, and Steph [Curry] said it to a couple of the guys.”
The Warriors beat the Jazz 111-107, clinching a place within the playoffs and surroundings themselves up properly to probably earn home-court benefit within the first spherical of the postseason. It used to be simply their 2nd win previously 9 video games.
Coming off their loss to the Phoenix Suns two nights sooner than, the Warriors felt they after all had one thing certain to construct on. Against the Suns, their protection — which used to be as soon as ranked No. 1 within the league — reemerged, and on offense, they regarded hooked up and coherent. The factor used to be that they could not shut.
Against the Jazz, it used to be all about how they closed.
After the Warriors trimmed the Jazz’s result in unmarried digits within the ultimate mins of the 3rd quarter, Utah made a fast surge at the beginning of the fourth to head up 16. With 6:58 left, Klay Thompson hit a 3-pointer, and the Jazz referred to as timeout.
That used to be when the sport modified, sparked by means of a Draymond Green pep communicate.
“He just brought a lot of energy. Giving guys motivation and picking us up, especially in a pressure moment like that,” Jordan Poole stated. “What he says projects to the entire team. We were able to just ride that momentum.”
Coming out of the timeout, Andrew Wiggins made a 28-foot pull-up jumper. Thirty seconds later, Thompson hit a three. The subsequent ownership, he hit every other. The Warriors went from down 16 to down simply 4 in 80 seconds and went on an 18-0 run to take their first lead of the sport.
“What a performance,” Kerr stated. “I was amazed by the skill of Klay and Jordan. The emotion and passion from Draymond, and the methodical defense and energy from Andrew and Otto [Porter Jr.] An unbelievable performance down the stretch by our guys.”
Poole completed with 31 issues, his sixteenth consecutive recreation with a minimum of 20 issues, whilst Thompson led the Warriors with 36.
In Thompson’s case, it used to be a leap forward night time after he struggled for the previous a number of video games. The Warriors chalk up his contemporary woes to him forcing his shot, making an attempt too arduous to discover a rhythm.
“We’ve seen it a million times: If Klay just sees the ball go through the hoop a couple of times, he can make the bad ones too,” Kerr stated. “I didn’t think this was a dramatic improvement in terms of shot selection, but I think the fact that that midrange shot was there … that allowed him to get into a rhythm and then he started making the impossible ones.”
Added Thompson: “I know I can flip a switch just like that. I knew this year would have its ups and downs, and I just told myself yesterday that it’s one game and I will move on. I told Kenny Atkinson that I felt like I was going to have a big night tonight, and it came to fruition. I’m happy it did.”
The Warriors’ offensive display within the fourth quarter used to be most effective aided by means of the truth that Utah persisted to protect in a drop protection, having Rudy Gobert keep within the paint it doesn’t matter what, giving the Warriors wide-open seems.
But not like in different video games, through which the Warriors neglected the ones open pictures, this time they hit them. Instead of being lackadaisical, they achieved.
Poole stated that at this level of the season, each recreation is essential. But there used to be no denying that everybody within the Warriors’ locker room knew this one had an additional edge to it, and so they were not going to let it slip away.
That’s what Green advised the workforce right through the timeout halfway throughout the fourth, and what led the Warriors on their late-game surge.
“It was a crucial part of the game,” Poole stated. “This was the moment where we needed to win the game.”