Unbeaten Warriors' strategy: Hit early

The Utah Jazz's Derrick Favors (left) tussles for the ball with Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green in their Game Four Western Conference semi-final series clash. Green had a triple-double with 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds as the Warriors
The Utah Jazz's Derrick Favors (left) tussles for the ball with Golden State Warriors' Draymond Green in their Game Four Western Conference semi-final series clash. Green had a triple-double with 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds as the Warriors swept the Jazz 4-0.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

They are 8-0 in play-offs thanks to ability to race out of the blocks in dominating rivals

SALT LAKE CITY (Utah) • Starting strong is Golden State Warriors' trademark in the National Basketball Association (NBA) play-offs.

They are finding ways to impose their will on offence and defence from the opening tip. They push the pace on offence, force turnovers on defence and bury opponents in a deep hole, forcing foes to spend the better part of four quarters trying to climb out.

That certainly was the scenario the Utah Jazz experienced once again when the Warriors advanced to the Western Conference finals with a 121-95 victory over them on Monday, completing a 4-0 series sweep.

The Warriors dominated the Jazz in every facet of the game during the opening quarter. They outscored the Jazz 39-17 in the period while limiting their rivals to six of 25 shooting (24 per cent) from the field.

Once the Warriors hit full speed, the Jazz could not do much of anything to derail that train. They improved to 8-0 in the post-season after leading wire to wire against the Jazz.

"Guys really came out focused," said Warriors forward Draymond Green, who had a triple-double with 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

"We knew what the game plan was and executed that game plan.

PLENTY OF WEAPONS

We never know who's going to have a hot night. We try to move the ball, use one another to create open shots, and, when we do that, the ball is hopping and a lot of good things happen.

STEPHEN CURRY, Golden State Warriors star, on why his side are so tough to beat in this NBA play-offs.

"Everybody was on a string, starting these games out. I think the most important thing, though, is we imposed our will on the game. We had the game at our pace."

Stephen Curry scored 30 points and Klay Thompson added 21 for the Warriors. Kevin Durant added 18 points, while JaVale McGee contributed 12 points.

The Warriors shot 51.2 per cent from the field - making 11 three-pointers - and dished out 28 assists on 43 total baskets.

"We have a lot of talent," Curry said. "We have guys that try to do it by committee. That's our approach to every game.

"We never know who's going to have a hot night. We try to move the ball, use one another to create open shots, and, when we do that, the ball is hopping and a lot of good things happen."

The Warriors will face the winners of the San Antonio Spurs-Houston Rockets series after sweeping a conference semi-final series for the first time since the current NBA play-off format began in 1984.

Gordon Hayward scored 25 points and Shelvin Mack added 18 for the Jazz. Dante Exum had 15 points off the bench, while Rudy Gobert chipped in 12 points and 13 rebounds.

The Jazz never fully recovered after enduring another sluggish first quarter. They did take some solace in eclipsing 50 regular-season wins and winning a play-off series for the first time since the 2009/10 campaign despite numerous injuries throughout the season.

"We knew we kept getting better as a group," Gobert said. "We didn't want it to end that way, but I'm excited about our future and the way this team's getting better every year."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2017, with the headline 'Unbeaten Warriors' strategy: Hit early'. Print Edition | Subscribe