Memphis sits just a half game back from the Jazz in the West. Utah currently holds the fifth spot while Memphis sits in sixth. This will be a crucial game because the winner of this game will have the chance to win the season series and an important tiebreaker.
Right now, the series is knotted up at 1-1. But the winner of this will take a 2-1 lead with only one game left to play. That means that if the Jazz lose this, the best case scenario is a tie in the series. This is a game with potential playoff seeding ramifications.
NO ONE!!! :)
Deyonta Davis - OUT (Foot)
Brandan Wright - OUT (Ankle)
Projected Starting Lineups
PG: George Hill vs Mike Conley
SG: Rodney Hood vs Tony Allen
SF: Gordon Hayward vs Chandler Parsons
PF: Derrick Favors vs JaMychal Green
C: Rudy Gobert vs Marc Gasol
The Jazz will get another game will their full starting lineup. Hopefully it sticks. At this point, any time that all these guys start will be a reason for me to smile.
Marquee Match-up: Rudy Gobert vs Marc Gasol
The Jazz and Grizzlies have played twice this season. In the first match-up, Gasol put up 22 points to lead Memphis to a win at Utah 102-96. Rudy got in foul trouble and played only 21 minutes in the game.
The next time these two faced off, Gobert dominated the game with 21 points (on 9-9 shooting), 12 rebounds, and three blocks. Gasol had a terrible day, managing just eight points on 22 shots.
I think it’s clear that, so far this season, the winner of this head-to-head will take home the “W”.
X-Factor: George Hill
The Jazz and Grizzlies may have played twice this season but George Hill was out in both games. Memphis has not had to deal with a Jazz team that has a competent starting point guard. Utah is a different team with Hill in the lineup. In games where he plays (excluding his 7 minute game vs Phoenix on Dec. 31) the Jazz have a +8.1 point differential (100.5/92.4). That falls to +1.2 (98.3/97.1) in games where Hill hasn’t played. Utah is better offensively and defensively when Hill is on the court.
If George Hill is his usual efficient self and can slow down Mike Conley in any way then there’s no reason the Jazz won’t be able to win this one.
Prediction: Jazz win close game
I was pretty torn about the prediction. Mainly because we’ve seen multiple Jazz teams over the last few games. Against the Celtics and Timberwolves we saw ugly and lazy basketball. Against Toronto we saw some great effort and execution (through three quarters). If the good Jazz come out tonight, there’s no question they come home with a win. But I can’t tell you if we’ll see that team.