3 Reasons the Warriors Shouldn't Feel Good About Their Game 1 Win

The Warriors took Game 1 at home, but was their performance anything to write home about?

Through the first 24 minutes of their Western Conference Semifinals matchup, the Golden State Warriors dominated the Utah Jazz. On 54.5% shooting and an assist rate of 70.8%, the home team took a 58-46 advantage at the halfway point in Game 1.

The results didn't change much after that, either -- the Warriors shot 54.5% in the third and fourth quarters and won by a score of 106-94. Everything turned out as expected.

However, the story (and numbers) behind the result would say differently.

Although the Jazz never once held a lead and the Warriors led by as much as 21, the game wasn't as far apart as it appeared. The Warriors held a 20-point lead in the middle of the fourth, but Utah kept the deficit at roughly 15 points throughout the game thanks to a few mini-runs.

That shouldn't make the Warriors feel less comfortable with the win (after all, they never trailed). Instead, they should be a little less sure of themselves for the following three reasons.

Second-Half Push

No, the Warriors nor the Jazz made a big run in the second half. As I alluded to, though, they played even on the scoreboard in the final two quarters. As a matter of fact, Utah outscored Golden State 27-26 on 55.5% shooting in the third.

Overall, the two teams tied at 48 for the second half, but a deeper look (via tells us the Jazz were better.

Time Frame Off Rating Def Rating Net Rating
First Half 92.7 120.6 -27.9
Second Half 110.0 106.3 3.7

It was by a slim margin, but compared to their first-half dismantling, their second-half performance was a large improvement. Utah's defense distantly resembled its usual form after yielding a defensive rating 17.9 points worse than their rating of 102.7 through 82 regular season games.

In line with their ratings over 100 possessions, the two teams also reversed roles in terms of shooting efficiency. While the Warriors finished the first half with an 11.5% edge in effective field goal percentage (59.1%), the Jazz ended the second with an advantage of 10.2% by holding the Warriors to a mark of 46.1%.

Out of everything, style of play was probably the biggest reason behind this tale of two halves.

An Uneasy Pace

Coming into the second-round series, the two teams' individual paces were at the forefront of the conversation -- and it's obvious as to why. Through the end of the regular season, the Warriors -- at 102.24 possessions a game -- ranked fourth in the NBA in pace. Meanwhile, the Jazz -- at 93.62 possessions per -- ranked dead last.

The teams' contending styles were on full display in Game 1.

In the first half, the pace of the game -- 97.72 possessions -- was above Utah's season average and allowed the Warriors to excel. In the second half, though, it was less advantageous for the upbeat Golden State offense. The game's 88.80 pace was nearly four possessions slower than any game the Warriors played in this season.

In total, at 93.26 possessions, the pace was more like what the Jazz are accustomed to. It was slower than their season-average and far below the Warriors' usual pace.

For reference, take a look at each team's regular season record when they've played at a pace below 94 possessions versus when they've played at a pace of at least 94.

Pace (Poss.) Jazz Warriors
< 94 41-6 3-0
≥ 94 20-15 64-15

The Warriors are actually undefeated when playing at a slower pace, but that's in a sample size of just three games. The Jazz, on the other hand, have played in 47 (more than 50%) games with a pace below 94. They've lost just six.

Bench Production

The third and final thing the Warriors should be worried about is their lack of bench production.

In Game 1, Utah's bench outscored them 46-25. Rodney Hood contributed 12 points while three others scored at least six for the Jazz.

On the opposing side, the Warriors got just 17 points from veterans Andre Iguodala, David West and Shaun Livingston. That made up 68% of their bench production as Ian Clark was the only other reserve to put up more than two points off the Golden State bench.

This is alarming when you look at the Warriors' average bench production in wins and losses this regular season.

OutcomeBench Points

Despite producing below their season average, they pulled out Game 1. They might do the same thing in a game or two going forward, but it's a trend the Warriors should want to buck sooner rather than later.

The fewer games it takes to get through the Jazz, the more rest they'll have in preparation for the Western Conference Finals. Oh, and the fewer days they'll have to put up with Utah's boring nightlife.

At a 29.83% likelihood, our model likes the Warriors to win the series in five games.