Jazz vs. Warriors 2017, NBA playoffs: Schedule, scores, predictions, and news

The Western Conference Semifinals scene has been set, and the Utah Jazz have advanced for a second-round dance with the top-ranked Golden State Warriors.

The Warriors convincingly dispatched the Portland Trail Blazers in four games, earning more than a week’s worth of rest in the process. They have a fully healthy roster now after losing Kevin Durant to a phantom left calf strain.

Without Durant, Stephen Curry re-emerged as the reigning two-time MVP, averaging 29.8 points on 42 percent three-point shooting for the series. But it was Draymond Green who picked up first-round MVP honors for the Warriors, averaging over four blocks per game and anchoring a Golden State defense that kept the Trail Blazers at bay much of the series.

The Jazz, on the other hand, suffered through a taxing seven-game series against the Los Angeles Clippers. Utah came out on top, eliminating the Clippers on their own home turf, but now must go to war with a team pegged to emerge from the Western Conference for a third straight season.

Joe Johnson came up huge in crunch time for the Jazz, burying the Clippers with dagger after dagger in the first round. The Warriors have multiple perimeter defenders, so Utah will need more than just its veteran scorer. The Jazz will put up a fight with Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert — it’s unclear if that fight will leave a chink in the Warriors’ armor.

Key matchup: Kevin Durant vs. Gordon Hayward

Durant is arguably the best scorer on the planet. He only played in two games in Golden State’s first-round series against Portland, but he scored 32 in Game 1. He’s an assassin patiently waiting for his next victim.

Hayward will be tasked with attempting to stop Durant on one end and trying to score on him (and the swarming Warriors’ defense) on the other. The Jazz wing is no scrub — he proved as much earning the first All-Star nod of his career this season. But there are levels to this basketball stuff, and Durant’s on another one.

Whether Hayward can get a handle on the all-world scorer could determine the series before it even starts.

Series schedule

Game 1: Warriors 106, Jazz 94 (recap)

Game 2: Warriors 115, Jazz 104 (recap)

Game 3: Warriors 102, Jazz 91 (recap)

Game 4: Warriors 121, Jazz 95 (recap)

Our predictions

SB Nation’s Warriors vs. Jazz predictions

STAFFER WINNING TEAM GAMES SERIES MVP
STAFFER WINNING TEAM GAMES SERIES MVP
Paul Flannery Warriors 5 Kevin Durant
Mike Prada Warriors 6 Stephen Curry
Tom Ziller Warriors 4 Kevin Durant
Whitney Medworth Warriors 4 Kevin Durant
Kristian Winfield Warriors 4 Kevin Durant
Tim Cato Warriors 4 Kevin Durant
Zito Madu Warriors 4 Stephen Curry
Golden State of Mind Warriors 5 Kevin Durant
SLC Dunk Warriors 5 Kevin Durant

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