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Utah Jazz at Indiana Pacers Game Preview: Gordon Hayward returns home a hero

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Utah Jazz (3-4) @ Indiana Pacers (1-6)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse • Indianapolis, IN
5:00 pm MT • TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

"Kolbi is watching, better make this shot!"
"Kolbi is watching, better make this shot!"
USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Utah Jazz face off against the Eastern Conference bullies, the Indiana Pacers for game two of their five game road trip. The last three seasons the Pacers lost to the eventual NBA champs in the playoffs twice, and twice made it as far as the Eastern Conference Finals. The perennial beasts of the East will be . . . oh wait, I just got an e-mail. I know, really professional, let me check it out. It's from Clark. I hope you don't mind if I read it before continuing . . . oh, hmmm, I see. I see. Okay. Clark informs me that all of Indiana is in ruin. Either a Mongol Hoard or really bad luck has befallen them all at once. Why do I say this? It's because so many of their guys aren't going to play tonight.

Via Clark:

Indiana is horrible and if they don't have Roy Hibbert, they will be one of the worst NBA basketball teams to ever step on the court. This will be a great time for the Jazz to start padding their defensive stats, as the Pacers have almost no one healthy who can score or create their own shot. However, this Jazz team probably isn't proven enough to walk into a road game on a back-to-back and dominate, like they should, so this should be a close contest. We will learn a lot about this young Jazz team and how they come out and dictate play against the high school equivalent of 8 kids who are only on the team because their parents wrote the head coach a check, 3 of which don;t know that the jock strap goes inside the underwear.

Jazz 88, Pacer 82

- ClarkPojo, 2014

Yeah. I can't fault his logic. Here's a look at their normal rotation, their player averages, and a look at who is out.

2014 2015 Game 8 UTAatIND - Pacers Player Averages

So outside of the Hibbert uncertainty (Knee, and he is probable last I checked), they will be bereft of the services of: Paul George, David West, George Hill, C.J. Miles, Rodney Stuckey, and C.J. Watson. Basically, that's the top half of their depth chart -- save for Hibbert and Luis Scola. The NBA aren't painting a pretty picture either, as the Pacers themselves list the probably starters as Donald Sloan, Solomon Hill, Chris Copeland, Luis Scola, and Iam Mahinmi. Our summer league team could beat that crew. That's not arrogance, that's just how bad it is.

Indy isn't a contender this year due to Paul George being out. And with all the additional injuries right now they are only 1-6. By comparison the Detroit Pistons are twice as good. And we beat them too. The Jazz aren't without injury either, as Rodney Hood will miss his second game to plantar fasciitis. But Hood isn't the same thing as half a team's worth of rotation players.

2014 2015 Game 8 UTAatIND - Jazz Player Averages

The interesting thing here will be if Utah, on the second night of a back to back, come into it with inflated opinions of themselves. I know Gordon Hayward will be dialed in for it's a homecoming game for him. Hopefully he can score another win (the last time the Jazz won in Indy was February 2011). History is on the side of the Pacers who are 26-13 when hosting the Jazz (thought both teams are tied 39-39). History is nice. Medicine suggests the Jazz have the advantage tonight with more warm bodies who are also good basketball players.

Luis Scola is actually someone Enes Kanter has a chance to guard because he doesn't have three point range, and Derrick Favors has stuffed the Parks and Rec out of Hibbert before head to head. Under-estimating Indy would be bad, after all, they did win a game (against the Philadelphia 76ers)!

Overall I think Clark is right. This should be a win for the Jazz. It would be nice if it's a win that also displays some more Trey Burke and Dante Exum together. These nights are made for testing out different combinations. I think that Frank Vogel will have to go with points guards (as that's almost all he has), we should too.

It should be a fun game if the Jazz can play at the tempo they want. Mucky-ing up this game will only give Indy a chance. They have the 10th best defense by DRTG, but their offense is awful. So in this regard they are the opposite of what the Jazz are.

Good offense at high speed wins over good defense at a crawl. Let's do this!