Programming note: Jazz-Warriors coverage starts tonight at 7 p.m. with Warriors Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
OAKLAND – The Warriors go back to work Friday night and it shouldn't take long to find out if an extended breather in the first month of the season revitalized their bodies or ruined their momentum.
"I don’t know; that's a good question,'' Andre Iguodala said after the morning shootaround. "We got a good couple days of practice in, better than you would expect from a focus standpoint, so I'm looking forward tonight to see how we come out. The first five minutes to determine how the last two practices really went.''
The Warriors, who face the Jazz Friday night at Oracle Arena, have won their last three games, the last two by an average of 23 points. Their 8-2 record represents their best start since 1975. The last time they started 9-2 was in 1972.
Yet it can be dangerous facing a team like Utah (5-7), which will try to exploit the circumstances. Iguodala described it as a potential "trap game'' because the Warriors on Saturday leave for a nine-day road trip.
The Warriors would like to believe they are beyond the days when they would lose their mental edge against certain inferior opponents, particularly at home.
"That was a problem for us last year,'' center Andrew Bogut conceded. "We'd have to win the game two or three times.
"Now we have that in the back of our minds, 'If the lead is 20, we've got to get to 30, just in case.' It's probably a good thing to have, that we've learned from those mistakes in the past.''
After routing the Lakers last Sunday, the Warriors took the equivalent of two days off, returning to full practices on Wednesday and Thursday. Other than the newly extended weeklong All-Star break, this pause is the longest of the season.
"They're anxious to play a game, so they're ready to have a game on the schedule,'' coach Steve Kerr said.
No team in the league has played fewer games than the Warriors, which means the schedule will get nastier later. For now, it's about refining their attack at both ends of the court.
"We know it's a long season,'' point guard Stephen Curry said. "Anytime you can rejuvenate yourself, even though we are playing well and we have a lot of momentum, the bodies are still talking to you. At the pace that we play, it's nice to get some fresh energy.''
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Harrison Barnes vs. Gordon Hayward. Inasmuch as Hayward is Utah's most explosive player, it's essential to keep him under wraps. The Warriors have Barnes and a platoon of solid wings behind him. If Hayward can't hurt the Warriors, the Jazz are in trouble.
Draymond Green vs. Derrick Favors. This is a physical mismatch, as Favors is three inches taller and 40 pounds heavier. Green may need some help from Marreese Speights. Then, too, Favors has no chance of keeping up with Green's constant movement.
KEYS TO VICTORY: 1) Exhaust the elephants. With Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors, the Jazz are big up front and it would behoove the fresher Warriors to test their stamina.
2) Clean the glass. The Warriors have allowed several teams to pound the offense boards, something they can't afford to do against Utah.
3) Rev up Roaracle. If the Warriors crank it up early, their energy and that of the crowd could bury a Jazz team that struggles on the road.
INJURY REPORT: Warriors – F David Lee (strained left hamstring) is out indefinitely. His status will be updated prior to tipoff.
Jazz – G/F Rodney Hood (plantar fasciitis, right foot) is listed as questionable.
SERIES HISTORY: The Warriors last season swept the Jazz (4-0) for the first time in history but have only three season-series victories over Utah in the last 20 seasons.