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Utah Jazz kick off season of hope against the Houston Rockets

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Houston Rockets (1-0) @ Utah Jazz (0-0)
EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
7:00 PM MT, Radio (1280 AM / 97.5 FM), TV (ROOT Sports)

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It Is Here

The highly anticipated season for your Utah Jazz is finally commencing tonight!

The Rockets are coming off of a game last night against the Lakers. Houston breezed by them with a final score of 108-90.

Harden played 31 minutes yet did not play in the 4th quarter while scoring 32 points (with 16 free throws). Howard played 21 minutes  while scoring 13 points (also with 16 free throws). Needless to say, they will probably be fairly ready for tonight's game.

Tonight the Jazz get their first crack at trying to carry out the debut of Rookie Head Coach Snyder's "play with a pass" philosophy. Long gone are the days of everybody standing around during isolation plays, for now is the time to usher in the Reign of Coach Q!

Opposing team notes:

The Rockets are the favorites coming in tonight due to having the "best" players on the court in Dwight Howard and James Harden. They are coming off a season in which they got knocked out in the 1st round of the playoffs by a heartbreaking Damian Lillard buzzer beater.

This season the Rockets are striving to take their game to the next level as contenders. However, they could easily be seen as the losers of the offseason due to this convoluted chain of events:

  • Rockets unloaded Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik in cap-space creating trades to make room for Chris Bosh.
  • Rockets GM allows Chandler Parsons to become a restricted free agent this summer so that they could keep him for longer rather than lose him for nothing next offseason.
  • Chandler Parsons gets offered a near-max deal of over $15 million per year by the Mavericks. Rockets let him walk due to the fact that they wanted to save their newly created cap space for Chris Bosh.
  • Chris Bosh re-signs with the Heat. Rockets try to save face with a overwhelmingly "meh" signing of Trevor Ariza as their new 3rd option.
Now the Rockets still have their "cornerstones" in Harden and Howard, but the team stumbles into this season with a weaker starting lineup and virtually no quality backups. The Rockets either maintained status quo or got worse in a tough and ever-improving western conference.

Don't be all that surprised if the Rockets are a bubble playoff team this year.

Key Matchups:

At point guard, we get an intriguing but probable under-the-radar matchup of Trey Burke versus the physical Patrick Beverly. Cross your fingers that Beverly does not injure Burke like he did to Westbrook not too long ago.

At shooting guard, we have ourselves a seemingly one-sided matchup (if you ask non-Jazz fans) of James Harden versus Alec Burks. Go get 'em Burks, Jazz fans know what you're capable of. Show Harden how to actually earn free throws with acrobatics rather than floprobatics. And hey, maybe even show him what defense looks like while you're at it.

(I'm just gonna leave this here.....)

At small forward, we get an interesting matchup of Gordon Hayward against Trevor Ariza in the battle of wings who got paid this summer. Expect to see Hayward come onto the floor tonight as a polished well-seasoned pro out to prove that he belongs up there in the echelons with the household names of the league.

At power forward we have beloved Jazz defensive cornerstone Derrick Favors battling it out in the paint with fellow youngin Terrence Jones. Expect this to be the most physical match-up of the night.

Finally at Center, we have the big boys Dwight Howard and Enes Kanter. This year is going to be pivotal for Kanter. I see Enes being at the cusp of the stage of his career where people are going to be convinced that he can be a top 3 option on a team or not, or at the very least a qualtiy starter for a playoff team.

This is somewhat similar to the situation with C.J. Miles a few seasons ago where Jazz fans were becoming disappointed for waiting year after year for that "breakout season" to finally happen. C.J. ended up being a player who was at the stage all-along of "what you see is what you get" rather than being a player with another level to his game that just needed time to develop. Here's to hoping things turn out for the better for Kanter compared to Miles, but it is still a possibility that Kanter's floor ends up right around Miles' talent level (although I would bet against this happening).

Closing notes:

Expect the Jazz to be running and gunning much more than ever before. There will be ample ball movement swinging across the court with as cohesive of "new" plays as one could expect after one offseason with a new coach and system.

Dante Exum and Rodney Hood have their NBA debuts tonight! It is great to have yet another 2 players to instill hope into this franchise's future.

This game will give us a glimpse of what Quin and the Jazz have in store for us this season before we are all barraged with the awesomeness of our players being in an environment that is conducive to them thriving and reaching their potential in this season of hope.

Buckle up Dunkers, it's going to be a wild season!