Tonight the Utah Jazz have to win this dagnabit game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Why? Well, for one, they are without starting point guard Jrue Holiday. For two, they are without bigman supreme Anthony Davis. Three, they will be without sharpshooter Ryan Anderson. Those are the #2, #3, and #4 top players on their squad for minutes this season. (And #1, #2, and #5 in MPG this season to boot) The Jazz have lost games where they had the injury advantage before. And they've won games short handed. But in this situation you have to take what's being handed to you.
Yes. the New Orleans Pelicans are a talented team that is 27-24. Yes, they 17-8 overall, and 19-13 against the Western Conference. And yes, they are 1.0 games out of the playoffs at this point. And yes, they still have stellar players like Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon, Omer Asik, and . . . uh . . . and . . . wait, what? This team has Jimmer Fredette, Nate Wolters, Luke Babbitt, *and* Jeff Withey all on the same team? I have barely watched the Pelicans play this year, but I have no doubt that some random dude is going to kill us tonight. Just like Jason Smith used to do.
That said, that doesn't mean that the Jazz are going to lose in their old hometown tonight. They SHOULD win because while the team will be once again without Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, and Joe Ingles . . . it's not like the other team is full of shooting guards or anything. Oh wait. Yeah. Crap. Defensively Utah will have a problem with Tyreke and Gordon, two guys who have beaten the Jazz by themselves when they were on the Kings and Clippers respectively. John Salmons is also around to cause problems if we close out poorly.
Utah should have the obvious advantage inside. Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert, and Trevor Booker should be too much for the Pelicans to handle, on a night without Anthony Davis. No Ryan Anderson means the Jazz don't HAVE to match up against a stretch big -- unless Monty Williams decides to go small. Sometimes our head coach Quin Snyder goes big, other times he has adjusted. On a night without any shooting guards not named Elijah Millsap, and the ghost of Dante Exum 's pre-draft scouting report, it may be that Snyder does not have a choice.
So who is going to be the best player on the floor tonight? Hopefully it will be Gordon Hayward. This is one of the last games before the All-Star break, and Mr. Snub should have a field day. I am not confident in their ability to check him. So he should wreck them.
Man, is their team only PGs and SGs? (Sorry, I'm looking over their roster again right now) Mismatches will determine this game. They still have a solid inside player in Asik, and Withey works hard. If the Jazz do not dominate the glass they will lose this game.
For what it is worth, the Jazz are 10-12 in New Orleans . . . but most of those wins came back when Chris Paul was getting undressed by Deron Williams in their own gym. Both players have moved on since then. Can New Orleans win without their star players? Can the Jazz win two on the row?
Fearless Prediction: The Jazz will have to dig deep to avoid getting hurt by their guards, and for the most part, will succeed
Fearful Prediction: They will go small, and force us out of going as big as we will need to go, in order to dominate
Marquee Match-up: Amar vs. international internet, which has prevented me from seeing any game since the Memphis one, and hence, no recaps of the last two games so far.