SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - JANUARY 01: Mike Conley #11 of the Utah Jazz drives against Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half of a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on January 01, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. 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 Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

"We Don't Fear Anyone" | Utah Faces Golden State In Battle Of Bests

Despite missing key players from both teams, the top offense faces off with the top defense when Utah takes on Golden State on Sunday night in the Bay Area

It's a tale as old as time, one that still doesn't have an answer to it.

Which team would prevail in a basketball game featuring a battle between the top offense and going up against the top defense?

Is it the team that spaces the floor with elite shooters and runs the offense at such high efficiency that its rating is among the best of all time? Or is it the team with a defense that switches everything with immense ball pressure and communication?

An answer may be provided on Sunday night when Utah takes its top-rated offense to the Bay Area to face Golden State and its smothering defense. Tipoff is set for 6:30 p.m. MST. 

After dispatching Detroit on Friday night, Utah enters the game with some much-needed confidence. The Jazz had lost six of their previous seven games before the victory, so picking up a win was huge mentally moving forward. 

"Winning helps cure a lot of things," Mike Conley said with a smile. "It felt like we hadn't won in forever the way we've been playing and how we've been feeling. .. Just to get a win in the way we did tonight, it helps us build confidence."

While the victory may be nice, how the victory was achieved was the real reason for the confidence boost. 

Not only did Utah get impressive performances from Rudy Gobert and Bojan Bogdanovic, but the defense in the fourth quarter was stellar. 

The Jazz held the Pistons to just 19 points in the final 12 minutes — but only seven came in the final 6:30 of the game. The Jazz also forced four turnovers and limited Detroit to contested three-pointers for most of its shots.

"I thought we did as good a job as we have this year, defending small-small pick and roll actions," head coach Quin Snyder said. 

"I'm proud of the way we were playing with a certain type of intensity and effort, especially defensively," Conley added. 

The matchup between Utah and Golden State is unique because they're almost exact replicas of one other — just on different ends of the court. 

The Jazz have the league's best offense, but it's the play of Gobert, the three-time defensive player of the year, who gets the headlines and anchors a solid defensive team. For the Warriors, they have the top defense, but MVP frontrunner Steph Curry is a one-man wrecking crew on offense. 

Each team also comes into Sunday's game battling some injuries and will be missing key players. 

Part of what makes Utah's offers elite is all-star guard Donovan Mitchell — but he is still in concussion protocol and will not play tonight. For Golden State, the team's heart-and-soul is Draymond Green — but the former defensive player of the year is out dealing with a back injury. 

In the end, it doesn't matter who is on the court — this is a big game between two teams ranked in the top four of the Western Conference standings. 

"We want to win," Rudy Gobert said. "We don't fear anyone. We are our biggest enemy, ourselves. ... I don't see any stretch and look at it and think, 'Oh, it's going to be rough.'

STATS
Utah (30-16, 15-7 away / No. 4 Western Conference)
Offense
*114.7 Points Per Game (No. 1 in NBA)
*116.1 Offensive Rating (No. 1 in NBA)

Defense
*107.4 Points Per Game (No. 12 in NBA)
*108.7 Defensive Rating (No. 12 in NBA)

*Rudy Gobert: 16.0 points / 15.0 rebounds / 2.3 blocks / 71.4% shooting
*Bojan Bogdanovic: 18.1 points / 4.1 rebounds / 39.3% 3P-shooting
*Jordan Clarkson: 15.3 points / 3.5 rebounds / 26.1 minutes
*Mike Conley: 14.1 points / 5.2 assists / 42.0% 3P-shooting

Golden State (33-13, 20-4 home / No. 2 Western Conference)
Offense
*109.8 Points Per Game (No. 13 in NBA)
*110.2 Offensive Rating (No. 12 in NBA)

Defense
*102.1 Points Per Game (No. 1 in NBA)
*102.5 Defensive Rating (No. 1 in NBA)

*Steph Curry: 26.3 points / 6.2 assists / 5.3 rebounds / 38.4% 3P-shooting
*Andrew Wiggins: 18.3 points / 4.2 rebounds / 41.3% 3P-shooting
*Jordan Poole: 16.7 points / 3.3 assists / 3.0 rebounds
*Klay Thompson: 14.7 points 

MATCHUP TO WATCH
Bojan Bogdanovic vs. Andrew Wiggins
— Since Donovan Mitchell has been sidelined with a concussion, a lot of the offensive pressure has fallen onto the shoulders of Bogdanovic — and he’s risen to the occasion. He’s averaging 26 points per game over the past two, and doing so with a combination of elite shooting from deep and attacking the rim. On the other end of the court, Wiggins is emerging as a potential all-star with the best season of his career.

MILESTONE WATCH
*Jordan Clarkson — 996 made three-pointers points

INJURY REPORT
Utah
PROBABLE — Bojan Bogdanovic (Left Finger Strain)
QUESTIONABLE — Hassan Whiteside (Return to Competition Reconditioning)
QUESTIONABLE — Trent Forrest (Right Hip Contusion)
QUESTIONABLE — Rudy Gobert (Left Ankle Soreness)
OUT — Donovan Mitchell (Concussion Protocol)

Golden State
OUT — Draymond Green (Left L5-S1 Disc Injury Recovery)
OUT — Andre Iguodala (Left Hip Injury Management) 
OUT — James Wiseman (Right Knee Injury Recovery)

BROADCAST INFORMATION
Time: 6:30 p.m. MST
Location: Chase Center / San Francisco, CA
TV: AT&T SportsNet / NBATV
Radio: 1280 The Zone 

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