The No. 1 offense vs. the No. 1 defense. 

The best three-point shooting team in the game against the best three-point shooter the game has ever seen. 

Two MVP candidates going head-to-head. 

What better way could someone start the new year with a clash of NBA title contenders on national TV? 

That’s exactly what fans will be treated to on New Year’s Day when Utah hosts Golden State in what very well could be a future playoff showdown. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MST from Vivint Arena. 

“The top two in the West right now so it’s a cool challenge for us,” Rudy Gobert said on Friday night. “We know that it’s a long season. But it’s definitely one of those games that at the end of the season when you look back, you want to win those and give yourself a chance to get that first seed.”

While the game may have lost some of its luster considering inactive players, that doesn’t matter to the coaches and teams themselves. In a day where you never know if health and safety protocols will severely hamper a team, this game is being viewed with great importance for both teams.

Utah wants to take the next step forward in its ascension to the top of the league and is doing so behind one of the most efficient and highest-rated offenses of all time.

Led by Donovan Mitchell and his 25.8 points per game, the Jazz have many weapons capable of beating opponents. Mitchell is entering superstardom, especially after a month of December when he averaged 30.2 points per game on a 50/38/87 shooting split, adding 5.0 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game.

But Bogan Bogdanovic, finally healthy after an injury-riddled last two seasons, is emerging as a perfect scoring complement to Mitchell. Jordan Clarkson, the reigning sixth man of the year, averages 15.0 points per game, giving the Jazz one of the best scorers off the bench.

More than just offense though, Utah is an excellent team defensively, anchored by three-time defensive player of the year in Gobert. He leads the league at 14.9 rebounds per game and averages 2.6 blocks per game over the last month.

“They’ve had some time to kind of study us and load up on us and rest a little bit with their game being postponed,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got to come out with the energy because they’re going to have it, they’re going to have the juice. Steph is playing at an all-time level…all those guys are really playing at a high level.”

Golden State enters Saturday’s game the top defense in the league thanks to head coach Steve Kerr’s switch-everything philosophy. The Warriors thrive in their perimeter defense, keeping teams out of the paint and contesting nearly every shot.

Steph Curry more than shoulders the load offensively, averaging 27.7 points per game and his elite three-point shooting is unmatched in the NBA. However, the Warriors are more than a one-man show as Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole combine to average 37 points per game.

Although the Warriors will be without Draymond Green (health and safety protocols), Klay Thompson (right Achilles tendon injury recovery), and James Wiseman (right knee injury recovery and health and safety protocols), none of that matters. Both teams view this game as a measuring stick to see who emerges as the frontrunner in the Western Conference.

“Competition is a mirror, and playing against these guys is obviously a challenge,” Snyder said. “They’re such a good team. It’s an opportunity for us to compete and grow.”

Utah (26-9, 14-6 home / No. 3 Western Conference)
*116.0 Points Per Game (No. 1 in NBA)
*117.0 Offensive Rating (No. 1 in NBA)

*105.7 Points Per Game (No. 8 in NBA)
*106.7 Defensive Rating (No. 6 in NBA)

*Donovan Mitchell: 25.8 points / 5.0 assists / 3.9 rebounds
*Rudy Gobert: 15.5 points / 14.9 rebounds / 2.3 blocks / 70.9% shooting 
*Bojan Bogdanovic: 17.6 points / 3.9 rebounds / 42.6% 3P-territory
*Mike Conley: 14.1 points / 5.3 assists / 42.5% 3P-territory

Golden State Warriors (27-7, 11-4 away / No. 1 Western Conference)
*110.9 Points Per Game (No. 8 in NBA)
*111.7 Offensive Rating (No. 5 in NBA)

*100.9 Points Per Game (No. 1 in NBA)
*101.6 Defensive Rating (No. 1 in NBA)

*Steph Curry: 27.7 points / 5.9 assists / 5.3 rebounds / 39.7% 3P-territory
*Andrew Wiggins: 18.8 points / 4.6 rebounds / 42.5% 3P-territory
*Jordan Poole: 17.9 points / 3.4 assists / 3.4 rebounds

*Donovan Mitchell vs. Steph Curry
— With no Draymond Green, Rudy Gobert should feast in the paint for Utah. But this game will come down to the play of the all-star guards in Mitchell and Curry. Mitchell is playing better than anyone in the league right now and looks like a man on a mission. Meanwhile, Curry is Curry, the game’s most prolific three-point shooter and capable of winning a game by himself.

*Donovan Mitchell — 7,327 points / 10 points away from No. 10 in Utah history

OUT — Udoka Azubuike (right ankle sprain)

Golden State
OUT — Draymond Green (health and safety protocols)
OUT — Damion Lee (health and safety protocols)
OUT — Klay Thompson (right Achilles tendon injury recovery)
OUT — James Wiseman (right knee injury recovery and health and safety protocols)

Time: 7:00 p.m. MST
Location: Vivint Arena / Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet / NBATV
Radio: 1280 The Zone 


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