A contrast in styles in West semis as Jazz try to control tempo against fast-paced Warriors
Rudy Gobert and the Jazz try to slow things down, but Draymond Green says the Warriors can also play that game. AP

OAKLAND, California — The Utah Jazz had the slowest pace in the league during the regular season, while the push-it-at-every-chance Golden State Warriors were among the fastest as they tried to establish their tempo from the tip.

That clash of styles even showed up in the first round of the playoffs, as the Jazz needed a Game Seven to get past the Los Angeles Clippers. The Warriors dismantled Portland in a four-game sweep and haven't played since April 24, waiting to find out their opponent.

"I think we can play both styles. That's kind of their MO to slow the game down and try to make it a slugfest," Warriors forward Draymond Green said.

It became a big advantage as Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Co. got well-rested, healthy and ready for the next challenge in their championship chase: those upstart youngsters from Utah in Game One of the Western Conference semifinals Tuesday night (Wednesday, Manila time).

"I don't mind that we're young and we're green," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "I just want us to be good. It's hard to be good against the Warriors but that's what we're up against."

The Jazz are the only team to beat Golden State in its last 20 contests, winning a mostly meaningless regular-season game on April 10 in Oakland.

Repeating that in the playoffs will be much harder but Utah knows what it must do: limit Golden State's chances in transition, make the Warriors work hard in the half court and find some way to score while grinding it out on the offensive end.

That's the formula the Jazz have used most of the season while allowing the fewest points and playing the fewest possessions in the NBA.

"For us, the pace with which we play has not been deliberate," Snyder said. "It's a deliberate way of playing. It's more of a function of our personnel."

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Here are some things to watch in the series:

MISSING COACH: The Warriors are now prepared to push on without ailing head coach Steve Kerr perhaps for the remainder of the postseason.

Kerr is dealing with debilitating symptoms stemming from complications following two back surgeries two years ago after the team's 2015 championship run.

"The way we look at it, plan on him not to come back," Green said.

FOUL COUNT: The Jazz got very little out of perhaps their most important player in the first round. Rudy Gobert sprained his ankle early in Game 1 and missed the next two games. He then sprained his ankle again late in Game 6 before fouling out in only 13 minutes in Game 7.

LONG LAYOFF: Green figures it might take the Warriors a quarter or so to get clicking after not playing in so long.

Durant should be fully healthy from a strained left calf that sidelined him the first three games against the Trail Blazers.

FAVORS' BACK: The Jazz wouldn't mind an extra day off mainly to get power forward Derrick Favors healthy. Favors missed practice Monday with a sore lower back and is questionable for Game 1.

 

With AP Sports Writer Josh Dubow

Follow the writer on Twitter: @spinph