How big is tonight's game? It's a home game, where Utah seems to be desperately looking for wins to keep their playoff hopes alive and a minimum amount of faith in themselves as a team. A win against Memphis and another win against the upcoming Knicks Monday could be confidence boosters for Utah, but losses here could also be season killers as far as dashing any hopes the team has as far as getting their defense together, getting their offense clicking, making the playoffs, and just showing the effort to get after every ball, win every play, and get back that needing-to-win mentality.
Memphis lost to Denver in Denver last night, 80-87. Memphis shot 33% for FG, had 14 turnovers, didn't create much in the way of assists, and just got out-hustled on a lot of plays.
Zach Randolph had 18 rebounds (10 offensive!) and 18 points. I'm hoping his legs and body don't have the same hustle tomorrow night, although who knows, maybe they're bodies will have to acclimate. At 6'9 and 260, I wonder who would match up against Randolph best on the defensive end- Favors? Kanter? Maybe Marvin Williams??
Tony Allen and Mike Conley were a combined 7-25 from FG range, so look for them to be looking to bounce back from that game. My guess is they're going to try to get points as easy as possible, either by getting their guards to penetrate into the paint, a la pick-n-roll, since everyone in the league knows how bad we are at defending that (which is kind of ironic because Utah use to be the benchmark for such plays), and they'll probably look to get guys like Randolph and Gasol involved in the paint early as well. The thing about that strategy is that if teams know Utah is going to foul a lot anyway, they can get Utah to commit a lot of fouls in the beginning of the game so teams have no trouble going into the bonus once the team has reached 10 fouls or however many it is.
Memphis' bigs have a decent understanding of interior passing, where Gasol will sometimes set up Randolph. I wish our bigs would do this more often. Jefferson could catch the ball closer to the top elbow of the key and dump it down or lob it to a streaking Favors for an easy lay in or dunk. Too bad using Al as the main distributor will never happen. I wish Utah had a Brad Miller type player who knew how to look for the backdoor cutter and quick bounce passes to guys cutting through the paint.
What are Vegas' odds the bench will out-perform our starters? 2-1?
I hope Jerry Sloan shows up for this one. And I hope we see some emotion out of Corbin, and the whole team, and a whole team effort on defense for a full 48 minutes, or at least more than just 6 minutes.