Tonight two small market, unpopular (compared to the flashier squads) Western Conference teams face off. The young and potentially up and coming Utah Jazz will tip off against the sturdy and serious Memphis Grizzlies. According to the Nielsen ratings Salt Lake City is the #34th sized market in the USA, and Memphis is #50. According to Wikipedia, Memphis is #41, and SLC is the #48 sized metropolitan statistical area. According to Facebook, the Grizz have 1,441,716 likes, and the Jazz have 957,625. And according to twitter, here are where their fans are, within the North American continent:
While they aren't that hot compared to say the Warriors, Clippers, Rockets, or whomever they are both very good defensive teams of late. Over the last 20 games the Grizzlies are 15-5, averaging 95.95 ppg, while giving up 91.40 ppg (+4.55 margin). The Jazz over the same stretch are 11-9, but averaging 95.60 ppg and giving up 92.55 ppg (+3.05 margin). A take-away from here is that BOTH teams are keeping teams under 93 ppg over the last 20. Memphis wins more, but they should -- they are going to be going to the playoffs for the 5th season in a row, a franchise best. They are the #2 seed in the West, and are at their peak. Utah is years away from theirs.
If we're looking at the where these two franchises are right now, well, this dynamic little thingy can help:
We know from NBA history that the Jazz are 48-24 all-time against the Grizzlies, though most of that came against the Vancouver based team. Utah is a respectable 21-15 on the road, though the team has been losing the series to Memphis for a while. Earlier this season the Jazz broke the streak and beat Memphis in Memphis. The teams are 1-1 so far this season, with two more games left to play.
From what we've seen the Jazz will not back down. And they shouldn't They have two guys in Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert who can stand up to Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol and not look out of place. Memphis has more stable point guard play in Mike Conley and Beno Udrih, but time will favor the young Jazz with their guys Dante Exum and Trey Burke. It just may not be this season.
The game could easily be won or lost on the wings where Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Tony Allen, and Vince Carter will pose trouble for the Jazz group of Joe Ingles, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, and Elijah Millsap. A healthy Alec Burks could be a positive contributor in a game like this, but he's gone for the season -- which sucks.
- Dante Exum vs. Mike Conley
- Joe Ingles vs. Courtney Lee
- Gordon Hayward vs. Jeff Green
- Derrick Favors vs. Zach Randolph
- Rudy Gobert vs. Marc Gasol
- Trey Burke vs. Beno Udrih
- Elijah Millsap vs. Tony Allen
- Rodney Hood (DUKE) vs. Vince Carter (UNC)
- Trevor Booker vs. Kosta Koufos
Injuries and absences:
- Alec Burks (UTA) -- out for season
- Vince Carter (MEM) -- questionable
- Ian Clark (UTA) -- NBA-DL
- Russ Smith (MEM) -- NBA-DL
- Jarnell Stokes (MEM) -- NBA-DL
Things getting interesting: Z-Bo, Beno out tonight with illness. Tony Allen has been suspended for the night.— Aaron Falk (@tribjazz) March 3, 2015
So I have no idea what's going on anymore . . .