The Utah Jazz take on the Sacramento Kings tonight at 7:00 p.m. (MST) at the ESA. It is the first meeting of the year for the Jazz and the Kings. The Jazz won last years series against the Kings 3-1. The Jazz's only loss against the Kings came in April when the Jazz were in their worse downward spiral in Utah franchise history. The Ty Corbin lead Jazz did beat the Kings once last year on my birthday ( March 5th) in overtime. Raja hit crucial jumpers and had a steal, Al lead the way with 27 points and it ended that awful 7 game home skid last season.
Whats going on with the Kings: The Kings are not having the season they would wish to convince tax-payers to build them a new arena to keep the Kings in Sacramento. They fired Paul Westphal and hired Keith Smart (has a Jerry Sloan connection so I like him) but not much as changed with the Kings. The Kings have lost 3 games in a row and 7 out of their last ten games. The Kings last win was against the Spurs in San Antonio, so they can beat good teams on the road.
Kings Offense: The Kings average over 108 offensive possessions per game but only average on .82 points per possession, so they are not that efficient with their offense. The Kings favorite offense move is to "spot up" they use it it 20.36% of the time on offense yet are only 28th in the league when scoring on "spot ups" possessions at .78ppp. If you have watched a Kings game this year you'll have seen their offense basically consists of "every man for himself" ( As I type this I know I am jinxing the Jazz and the Kings will play as a team and be really really efficient tonight)
Kings Defense: The Kings are ranked 28th in the league in defense. The Nuggets were able to score 91 points in the paint against the Kings last Wednesday. That is not 91 total points but 91 points in the paint. The Jazz should try to live in the paint tonight, lets hope Al and Paul can have strong games in the paint tonight.
Whats going on with the Jazz: Our Utah Jazz have lost 3 out of their last 4 ball games including two in a row. Last night the Jazz lost an ugly game to the Dallas Mavericks. I won't harp on and on that Dirk didn't play and Kidd went out early. I don't think that matters, the Mavs had traditional Jazz Killers Lamar Odom and Shawn Marion on the floor add that to the new Jazz Killer, Rodrigue Beaubois and well there is the story of the loss. To be fair the Jazz's 2 out of the 3 losses in this mini-slump have come to the same team, the Mavericks, a team the Jazz have struggled with in recent years. It reminds me of when the Jazz had to play Portland four times in less than a three week span in 2007-2008 and lost three of the four and David Locke was going on and on how the Blazers would be better than the Jazz (that year). The Jazz as we know went on to the playoffs that year, while the Blazers watched from home. So sometimes a team slump can just be about matchups.
Offense: Bell and Miles both commented yesterday after the loss that they both felt that the offense was getting stagnant again. I think all of us have seen that, we saw the Jazz at their very best against the Clippers everything on offense looking beautiful, the very best. Since the Clippers the Jazz have beaten the TWolves and have lost to the Mavs and the Raptors. The Raptors without our leading scorer/rebounder in a very bizarre unusual game. I am not too worried yet but I will be if we continue to stagnate especially against the Kings.
Defense: Remember when everyone looked awesome on defense after our first three games? Remember everyone was helping, rotating, trying their hardest? The Jazz are slumping on the defensive end and now rank 22nd overall. We are terrible at defending the Cut (29th in the league) as we saw repeatedly against the Mavs. The Kings only use the Cut on 5.7% of offensive possessions but I imagine they'll exploit if the Jazz aren't careful.
The X Factor: Jimmer, Jimmermania, Jimmer. As a BYU alumna I love Jimmer. I went to every single one of Jimmer's home games over his 4 year career at BYU. As I was working at the games, I could not cheer too overtly. Throughout his incredible college career I had to clap politely or sit on my hands to force myself not to cheer. Thats how I think Jimmer only fans should act tonight. I know though there will be BYU fans at the game who care nothing about the Jazz yet who are not Kings fans, who will be annoying like Kobe fans. I know there will be BYU fans at the game who love the Jazz who will cheer Jimmer during introductions only (that would be me if I were to go to the game). I know there will be Ute fans there who are nice and will treat Jimmer like nothing. I know there will be obnoxious Ute fans there who for no reason other than the fact that Jimmer went to BYU will boo Jimmer.
I hope that Jimmer fans and anti-Jimmer game attendees will not distract from the game. We all know how the game against New Jersey felt this year, despite the Jazz playing well it was hard to enjoy the game because of the boos. Lets not let this game become the same distraction especially because of a kid who has never played for the Jazz .
I, like Karl Malone, hope that Jimmer scores 20 and the Jazz win by 20.