The Utah Jazz dropped one last night to the Golden State Warriors, but in the NBA season there's no time to wait around and lick your wounds. There's another game tonight, against the up and coming New Orleans Pelicans. The Jazz are 3-2 at home, and the Pelicans are 2-4, and both teams played last night.
The Jazz will be playing the second game in a back to back, and shouldn't be too tired. The Pelicans? They are playing the second game of a back to back, and the fourth game in six nights. Their Western road trip had them play (and lose) to the Portland Trail Blazers, beat the Sacramento Kings, then lose last night to the Denver Nuggets. Because the world is funny, they had to fly West from Denver to play tonight in Utah, before flying out back home to New Orleans. If there's a team that should be more tired right now it should be them. Especially since their starting center, Omer Asik, is doubtful to tonight's game. He missed last night because he tweaked his lower back before their game against Denver. As a result it meant that Alexis Ajinca (21:05) and Jeff Withey (16:13) had to play more minutes than anyone would want them to.
I'm assuming that Asik will sit this one out as well, but without him New Orleans is a tough match-up. They play a very quick pace (12th fastest in the NBA), and have the 4th best Off RTG in the NBA (110.9 pts/100). They get buckets. Four players average 15.0 or more points per game (Anthony Davis, Tyreke Evans, Ryan Anderson, and Jrue Holiday), and another three after that get at least 7 (Eric Gordon, Omer Asik, and Austin Rivers). Six of their players also average 1.5 or more APG, and as a team NO OTHER TEAM IN THE NBA RIVALS THEM when it comes to taking care of the ball. They turn it over 11.1 times a game, when you factor in how crazy that is with their quick pace you notice that they are #1 in TOV% as well. It helps that they will play against the Jazz tonight, who don't really ball hawk that much.
They have a diverse offensive attack, where there are obvious specialists on the floor. Ryan Anderson takes 7.1 threes a game, and is a killer off the bench. Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday, and Tyreke Evans all start, all can pass, drive, and shoot, and are legit triple threats. They have guys like Austin Rivers and Jimmer Fredette off the bench, and they can get really hot if they start off having success in the first quarter.
Oh, and there's Anthony Davis. I was in shock scouting him today, his nickname shouldn't have anything to do with his eyebrow, but everything to do with his game. And his game is flat out ridiculous right now. It should be so synonymous as Air Jordan. We should be calling him Ridiculous Davis. He is beasting right now.
The Jazz aren't a bad team, in fact, I like them very much tonight and could pull off a solid win. In fact, in the preseason I expected that this game would be a win. And I am sticking with that. Davis will be a problem, and they have a ton of three point shooters. But the Jazz play really well at home against tired teams (historically), and I suspect that they will have no answer for Gordon Hayward.
Yes, they have advantages all over the court, but I believe in G-Time, and I think that Enes Kanter, Trevor Booker, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert will give Davis lots of different looks on offense and defense, and keep him on his toes. Also, you may not remember this, but he has bad luck against the Jazz. He always seems to get injured or in foul trouble. He averages only 23.9 mpg against the team, which is less than half the game. Sure, he still gets 15.0 ppg and 7.9 rpg, but there's something funky between Davis and the Jazz.
Obviously, this team is going to need something from Trey Burke and Alec Burks to pull off the win. And I have faith that they will be positive players in this game. Sure, there's no Rodney Hood, and as a result, the bench threats cannot compare to Ryan Anderson -- but I think our starters will be a little hungrier.
After all, having Quin Synder change the notification sound on all of their phones to "Wake up" cannot have anything other than a motivating effect.
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