Golden State Warriors weigh merits of rest against Jazz

Apr 13, 2024, 1:37 PM | Updated: 7:15 pm

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors looks down between plays in the third quarter agains...

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 12: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors looks down between plays in the third quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Chase Center on April 12, 2024 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kavin Mistry/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kavin Mistry/Getty Images)

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr insists he’s planning to prioritize rest over a possible home-court advantage when his club wraps up the regular season by hosting the Utah Jazz on Sunday in San Francisco.

The Warriors (45-36) will take the court tied with the Sacramento Kings for ninth place in the Western Conference. If the play-in tournament were to start Sunday, the Kings would be hosting the Warriors in a win-or-go-home game by virtue of having won the season-series tiebreaker.

However, a Warriors win over the Jazz, coupled with a Kings home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, would flip that home site to San Francisco.

An even more dreamy final-day scenario for Golden State would see the Warriors win, the Kings lose and the Los Angeles Lakers (46-35) fall at New Orleans. The Lakers lost the season series to both the Warriors and Kings, and thus would finish behind either or both in the case of a final tie.

So it’s possible, should the Lakers lose to the same team that dealt the Kings and Warriors costly defeats in the past three days, that the Warriors could move all the way up to eighth, which would mean having to lose twice to be denied a spot in the West’s final eight-team field.

All that doesn’t seem to matter to Kerr, who has seen his team play significantly better on the road (25-16) than at home (20-20) this season, and whose roster features four 30-somethings: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Chris Paul.

“Oh, yeah,” he said about prioritizing rest. “I mean, you prefer to stay at home, but if you look at what we’re facing, it’s a gauntlet. You got to play two play-in games; if you can win those two, you got Game 1 (of a first-round series) 48 hours after that. I’m much more interested in our ability to be ready for next week.”

It’s quite possible Kerr believes his team could beat the Jazz even while sitting out multiple key players. After all, the Warriors went to Portland on Thursday and defeated the Trail Blazers while Thompson and Green were resting.

This time around, however, there’s a possibility that two other guys who missed the 114-109 home loss to New Orleans on Friday — Jonathan Kuminga (bruised tailbone) and Gary Payton II (sore left calf) — also could sit out the regular-season finale.

And this time the opponent, the Jazz, are coming off a shocking, 110-109 road win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

Coupled with a 124-121 triumph over the Houston Rockets on Thursday in their home finale, the Jazz carry some momentum into a revenge-motivated matchup.

The Warriors have gone 3-0 against the Jazz this season, including a 118-110 home win last Sunday when Thompson poured in 32 points while Curry sat out.

Jazz coach Will Hardy said before facing the Clippers that he looked forward to the challenge of facing a team desperate for a win. He was disappointed when Kawhi Leonard didn’t suit up and LA coach Tyronn Lue pulled Paul George, Russell Westbrook and James Harden all within 10 minutes.

He’d love to see a playoff-type atmosphere in San Francisco on Sunday.

“I’m deeply jealous of everybody that’s preparing for the playoffs right now,” he said. “So are our players. That’s where we want to be. There’s nothing like it. There’s nothing like preparing for a series; there’s nothing like the chess match that goes on there, the adjustments game to game.”

The Jazz (31-50) will take the league’s eighth-fewest wins into the finale.

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–Field Level Media


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