SALT LAKE CITY — Here’s a trivia question for you.
Who is the only NBA team with a winning record against the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the last two seasons?
Answer: the Utah Jazz.
When they last met on April 10 at Utah, the Jazz pulled away with a 119-79 win as Jazz star Donovan Mitchell set the all-time NBA record for threes made by a rookie.
“Surprised. I mean, Utah was coming to play,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the last loss. “Just like everybody we’ve seen here the last couple weeks, other than Phoenix. They’re all trying to improve seeding. They’re all trying to either make the playoffs or get homecourt or whatever, and so at this level in the NBA everybody’s talented, everybody’s good, so it’s so competitive that if you don’t bring the spirit, the life, you have no chance.”
Now the Jazz have to bring that energy.
After Wednesday’s 123-117 win against the Sacramento Kings, Utah (1-0) will welcome the Warriors (1-0) to Vivint Arena for its home opener in what is sure to be an electric atmosphere at Vivint Arena.
Action tips off Friday at 8:30 p.m. MT on ESPN.
The Jazz overcame a slow start against the Kings, trailing by 16 in the first half, but know they can’t start that way against the Warriors, who have made four consecutive NBA Finals appearances.
Although Golden State owns the best win percentage (.798) in NBA history over the last four years in the regular season and playoffs combined, somehow the Jazz have posted a 4-3 record against them in the past two years.
Last season, Utah spanked the Warriors three times by margins of 30, 19, and 40, but they can’t bring that same slow approach from its last game into this one.
“It’s a different team — different game, different (style of) play so we have to get home and start getting ready for them,” Gobert said after the Kings win.
Mitchell ended with a game-high 24 points in his sophomore season debut but shot 8 for 21 from the field with five personal fouls and five turnovers. However, he did come on late with 11 in the fourth quarter but seemed to be pressing the issue early. The Louisville product is always his toughest critic, so he knows what adjustments to make.
“Just pressing — trying to make something out of nothing instead of making the simple play that I’ve been working on all summer,” Mitchell said. “Just kind of got away from it, but it’s one game. Obviously, the first game, you’re excited and it got the best of me.”
In addition to the Jazz’s win streak, several intriguing storylines surround these squads.
Warriors forward Jonas Jerebko played for the Jazz last season, Steph Curry’s father, Dell Curry, was selected by Utah in the 1986 NBA Draft, Warriors coach Steve Kerr won back-to-back championshipsin the arena with the Chicago Bulls in 1997 and 1998 while Joe Ingles spent a couple of summers with the Warriors Summer League teams in 2009 and 2010.
And the Utah #nightlife jabs once took on a life of its own.
But once the ball is tipped a new chapter will be written.
A national television audience will be tuned in to capture the moment, as one team will take its first L of the young season.