In 2007, the Golden State Warriors captivated the Bay Area and NBA fans around the country. A team dubbed “We Believe” reinvigorated a franchise that had endured a 13-year postseason drought.
Ironically enough, on a night in which the Warriors will honor the “We Believe” team at Oracle Arena, they will also open the second round of the 2017 NBA playoffs against the same Utah franchise that bested them 10 years earlier.
When asked about facing the same team that bumped the Warriors out of the playoffs in 2007, Andre Iguodala said:
“Hopefully you don’t jinx us. … That was a fun team to watch and it’ll be good for those guys to come back and I’m sure we’ll feel some energy that those guys will bring.”
Although the names on the front of the jerseys may be the same, the circumstances surrounding this series’ matchup will look a little different this time around.
For one, the Warriors enter as the clear-cut favorites as the No. 1 seed in the western conference, compared to being the No. 8 seed in 2007.
Also, the Jazz will come into Oracle as the younger team, boasting a series win over a battered and depleted Los Angeles Clippers team that played without their second leading scorer in Blake Griffin.
The difference between the 2017 installments of these two team will be, like it was then, the pace.
Utah’s style of game is predicated upon ball movement and patience. The further the shot-clock winds down, the more comfortable the team seems to be.
This is the polar opposite of the Warriors, who thrive in transitional attacking. Golden State leads all teams with 22.6 fast break points per game compared, According to NBA.com, while Utah ranks No. 29 in the league with only 8.1.
But some Warriors aren’t worried about the slow pace and are confident with the game plan that has been installed by interim head coach, Mike Brown, and the rest of the Warriors coaching staff. Said starting center, Zaza Pachulia:
“We understand what they do individually and as a team. We just have to go out there and play our game.”
Another interesting component to this matchup will be the production of Utah center Rudy Gobert. “The Stifle Tower” is coming off knee and ankle injuries, which costed the league’s regular season block leader (2.64 per game) nearly three full games in the Jazz’s first round series against Los Angeles.
If Golden State can continue to minimize Gobert’s contributions, the road to the Western Conference Finals will be that much smoother. But, if the Warriors are not able to slow the Jazz big man, he could be the reason for Utah to believe.