Game Preview: Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers -- The battle of the back courts

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Game #54: Portland Utah Jazz (19-34) at Portland Trail Blazers (36-18)
Moda Center, Portland, OR
February 21, 2014 -- 8:00 pm MT
TV: ROOT Sports -- RADIO: 1280 am / 97.5 fm

February Game Streams -- Blazer's Edge -- Jazz vs Trail Blazers coverage

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Remember back when the Portland Trail Blazers were the top team in the NBA? Well, that was a while ago. Right now they are 5th best team in the Western Conference, but still much better than we are on paper. The Blazers are 19-7 at home this season, and a dominant 8-3 against teams in the North West division. They have hit a little bit of a snag of late, as they've lost three games in a row, and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Part of that could be the fact that Portland is currently without three of their bigs: LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Freeland, and Meyers Leonard. Adding to their problems, Nicolas Batum missed practice yesterday and could be in doubt for tonight. Yes, they still have Robin Lopez and Thomas Robinson inside -- but today is really going to be a battle of the back courts.

It's going to be Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, and Mo Williams going up against Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, and Alec Burks. Why? Well, as amazing as Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson have been, their spot up tendencies work best for creating floor space for Derrick Favors (who is injured), and not really creating their own shots.

Utah isn't really turning things up, but they are 5-5 in their last 10, and only missing one guy right now. But the Jazz are really bad on the road (7-19) and even worse against the North West division (3-7). It's going to be a tough game, especially if our best three guards are having poor shooting games.

Burke and Hayward are both well below where we expect them to be, and Alec is up and down off the bench. Yes, he's super hot right now with scoring a lot, but don't think he won't start being the focus of opposing teams' game plans at some stage.

Anyway, it's a late game and an important game for both teams. If Batum can play, they clearly have the advantage, even without one of their two All-Stars.

Portland Stats:

Player Pos G MPG PPG RPG APG TO A:TO SPG BPG PER USG% AST% TRB%
1 Damian Lillard 1 2 54 36.1 20.9 3.6 5.7 2.4 2.4 0.7 0.4 19.1 24.5% 25.1% 5.4%
2 Nicolas Batum 3 54 36.1 12.8 6.4 5.4 2.6 2.1 1.0 0.6 15.4 16.3% 21.3% 9.7%
3 Wesley Matthews 2 3 54 34.4 16.7 4.0 2.4 1.3 1.8 0.9 0.1 16.4 19.1% 10.7% 6.4%
4 Robin Lopez 5 54 31.3 10.7 8.5 0.8 1.1 0.7 0.4 1.5 16.9 15.1% 3.6% 14.7%
5 Mo Williams 1 2 50 24.3 9.2 2.0 4.6 2.0 2.3 0.8 0.2 11.6 20.3% 27.9% 4.4%
6 C.J. McCollum 2 1 18 15.2 6.7 1.3 0.8 1.1 0.7 0.4 0.1 9.7 20.5% 8.4% 4.8%
7 Dorell Wright 3 42 12.9 4.5 2.0 0.8 0.5 1.6 0.3 0.1 10.9 16.4% 8.8% 8.5%
8 Thomas Robinson 4 46 11.1 4.3 3.8 0.4 0.6 0.7 0.3 0.2 13.9 19.7% 5.3% 18.5%
9 Earl Watson 1 15 5.9 0.5 0.6 0.9 0.7 1.3 0.1 0.0 1.0 7.7% 19.7% 5.5%
10 Allen Crabbe 2 8 5.1 2.8 0.1 0.4 0.4 1.0 0.1 0.0 15.2 20.8% 11.2% 1.3%
Injuries Pos G MPG PPG RPG APG TO A:TO SPG BPG PER USG% AST% TRB%
x LaMarcus Aldridge 4 5 53 37.0 23.9 11.4 2.8 1.8 1.6 0.9 1.0 22.4 29.3% 13.6% 16.7%
x Joel Freeland 5 51 13.8 3.3 3.9 0.7 0.6 1.2 0.2 0.4 11.3 12.2% 6.7% 15.4%
x Meyers Leonard 5 21 9.1 2.7 3.0 0.3 0.4 0.8 0.2 0.1 11.4 13.9% 5.2% 17.6%

Jazz Stats:

Player Pos G MPG PPG RPG APG TO A:TO SPG BPG PER USG% AST% TRB%
1 Gordon Hayward 2 3 48 36.3 16.2 5.5 5.0 2.7 1.9 1.4 0.6 16.2 23.5% 23.5% 8.7%
2 Trey Burke 1 41 30.8 12.5 3.0 5.6 1.9 2.9 0.6 0.1 12.8 22.7% 30.9% 5.6%
3 Alec Burks 2 1 53 27.3 13.6 3.3 2.6 1.8 1.4 0.8 0.2 15.8 24.1% 16.9% 6.8%
4 Richard Jefferson 3 53 26.8 9.9 2.9 1.8 1.3 1.4 0.7 0.2 12.0 17.1% 10.8% 6.1%
5 Marvin Williams 3 4 42 26.6 10.4 5.5 1.2 0.9 1.3 0.8 0.5 15.5 17.2% 7.7% 11.8%
6 Enes Kanter 4 5 52 25.1 11.7 6.3 0.8 1.8 0.4 0.4 0.6 15.2 23.4% 5.8% 14.1%
7 Jeremy Evans 4 38 19.2 7.2 5.4 0.8 0.5 1.6 0.6 0.7 19.1 16.3% 7.4% 16.0%
8 John Lucas III 1 2 34 15.9 4.3 1.1 1.1 0.6 1.8 0.4 0.0 5.7 16.7% 11.4% 3.9%
9 Diante Garrett 1 2 42 14.7 3.3 1.5 2.0 1.1 1.8 0.6 0.6 8.5 14.1% 20.5% 6.0%
10 Brandon Rush 2 3 30 12.3 2.4 1.1 0.7 0.5 1.4 0.2 0.2 4.9 11.4% 8.9% 5.1%
Injuries Pos G MPG PPG RPG APG TO A:TO SPG BPG PER USG% AST% TRB%
x Derrick Favors 5 4 46 30.4 12.9 9.0 1.1 1.8 0.6 1.0 1.4 17.7 20.6% 6.2% 16.8%

Bottom line? No LMA, and no Favors -- it would be GREAT if Enes Kanter and Robin Lopez bang tonight and muck it up. I don't think we can handle their back court if ours is shooting as poorly as they currently are right now.

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