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Monson: This Jazz-Warriors series has an eerily familiar look to it

First Published      Last Updated May 03 2017 09:03 pm


Utah Jazz » In ‘88, it was the upstart Jazz and the Showtime Lakers; now Utah finds itself in similar role vs. Golden State

The Jazz facing the Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals is similar to another semifinal playoff series — the Jazz playing the then-mighty Los Angeles Lakers in 1988. And the current Jazz, if they were honest with themselves, would be happy with a similar result.

Losing with honor.

The comparison begins with the enormity of the task.

Nobody thought that Jazz team had any shot against the Showtime Lakers. L.A. had been champions and the Jazz, in franchise history, had been to the NBA playoffs five times. The Lakers, the league's glamour team, had a bunch of stars. They were a team that could get up the floor and score in flurries, led by Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Byron Scott and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. At the offensive end, they were frightening.




The Jazz had a couple of young NBA upstarts who hadn't really done anything in the postseason — Karl Malone and John Stockton, and they had a shot-blocking big man, Mark Eaton, who had been dismissed as something less than legitimate, despite his remarkable physical dimensions.

Skip ahead to the Warriors-Jazz series now and … well, nobody thinks the Jazz have any kind of shot. And Tuesday's Game 1 result nudged that notion not one bit.

Golden State, the NBA's glamour team, has stars of its own — Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The Warriors have won a title. They get up the floor and score in flurries. At the offensive end, they are frightening.

The Jazz have a couple of young NBA upstarts who haven't really done much in the postseason — Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert, Gobert being a shot-blocking big man who had been dismissed as something less than legitimate, despite his remarkable physical dimensions.

Is there an echo in here?

The Lakers were the West's No. 1 seed in the 1988 playoffs, and they swept their first-round opponent.

The Jazz were the fifth seed.

The Warriors are the West's No. 1 seed in the playoffs, and they swept their first-round opponent.

The Jazz are the fifth seed.

Some people believe that old Lakers team was … old. Other than Jabbar, who was 41, it really wasn't. Magic was 28, Worthy was 27, Scott was 27, A.C. Green was 24.

The Jazz stars were relatively young. Malone was 24, Stockton was 26, and they did have some veterans alongside — Rickey Green was 33, Marc Iavaroni and Eaton were 31.

The Warriors now, just like the Lakers then, are pretty much in their prime — Curry is 29, Durant is 28, Thompson and Green are 27.

The Jazz have a couple of stars who are emerging now — Gobert is 24 and Hayward 27 and this is the first taste of the playoffs for Rudy and virtually the first for Hayward. There are also relative youngsters, such as Rodney Hood, 24, and Dante Exum, 21. Those guys are bolstered by vets Joe Johnson, 35, George Hill, who turns 31 on Thursday, and Boris Diaw, 35.

Two other similarities: The Lakers had Mychal Thompson on their team that year, the Warriors have Thompson's son, Klay, and, more significantly, the disparity in attitude between the two teams, then and now, was and is thick as a brick.

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AT A GLANCE

1988 Western Conference semis

Game 1 » Lakers 110, Jazz 98

Game 2 » Jazz 101, Lakers 97

Game 3 » Jazz 96, Lakers 89

Game 4 » Lakers 113, Jazz 100

Game 5 » Lakers 111, Jazz 109

Game 6 » Jazz 108, Lakers 80

Game 7 » Lakers 109, Jazz 98


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