SAN FRANCISCO — The Utah Jazz set the tone early in the first round by stunning the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 even after Rudy Gobert left with a knee injury.
They hope to do the same thing — minus the injury, of course — when they open the Western Conference semifinals against the Golden State Warriors tonight at Oracle Arena (8:30 p.m., TNT).
A good start could go a long way for a Jazz team that's not expected to do much in this second-round series against the team that Utah forward Boris Diaw admitted is "probably the best in the NBA right now."
"I think this is an important game for us to let them know that we’re here and it’s not going to be a walk through or anything," Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said Tuesday after shootaround.
"We’re going to need to come off with a lot of energy because they’ve been resting and have had a lot of time off, and we’ve been battling. Tonight, we need to make sure we come out with a lot of juice."
Utah, the 51-win fifth seed, enters this round having outlasted the Clippers in a grueling seven-game series. The Warriors, who won an NBA-best 67 games and are the clear favorites to win the championship in June, have been off since sweeping Portland a week ago Monday.
It's uncertain whether the Jazz will be at full strength. Utah forward/center Derrick Favors continues to be bothered by a sore lower back. He only partially participated in shootaround this morning at a private San Francisco health club after not practicing on Monday.
Favors remains listed as questionable for Game 1.
"It’s hard to say. He didn’t do much," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of Favors. "We’ve been dealing with this. It’s nothing new for us to see if a guy can play during game time."
The Jazz need all the help they can get.
The Warriors have the NBA's top offense and second-ranked defense, so this will be a humongous challenge for a Utah team that has a decent offense (ranked 12th) and the third-best defense.
Diaw admitted there are a lot of variables that will factor into the Jazz having a chance to win against a team that features an All-Star quartet that includes Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
"It’s just going to be a tough game overall," Diaw said. "They can shoot a lot of threes. They get them up pretty quick. They move the ball really well.
"They play good defense also," he continued. "They rotate pretty well. They have size. They are athletic, so they’re able to switch, change a lot and play pretty solid defense. We have to play our game. We know what we do offensively that works and we’ve got to keep doing that."
The Jazz like their chances of making this a competitive series even if nobody else believes.
"I think our team’s confident," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "You don’t go through an entire year of ups and downs and wins and losses and not have some level of confidence. I think the key thing against a team that’s as explosive and stingy as Golden State is you can’t let your confidence be impacted by whatever’s going on in that specific moment in the game."
Snyder said he's not putting any more emphasis on winning this game than he would any other.
"We just want to play well, compete, not put too much pressure on any moment in the game," Snyder said. "And just put focus on competing well, being who we are and see where that takes us."