The Utah Jazz face a familiar face tonight in New York when they battle the New York Knicks: Enes Kanter. Enes Kanter, recently traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder for Carmelo Anthony, has seen a renaissance in his short time in New York. The new Knick frontcourt of Kanter and Kristaps Porzingis is leading the upstart Knicks to a 7-6 start.
The Utah Jazz come into this came after a demoralizing loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at home. Without Rudy Gobert, the Utah Jazz had a layup line to the hoop and somehow struggled to take advantage of Minnesota’s league worst interior defense.
Injuries are once again a familiar theme for Utah as Utah has lost Dante Exum, Joe Johnson, and Rudy Gobert for extended time. Joe Johnson was reevaluated yesterday and was found to need an additional couple weeks of recovery.
The Utah Jazz will be looking to get Ricky Rubio back into a groove. Ricky, who had a hot start to the regular season, has regressed to the mean then through the floor into the basement. So much so that it prompted this anonymous tip to Tony Jones of the SL Tribune:
Tribune sources: There are no plans to pull Ricky Rubio from the starting lineup. The plan is to allow him to play through this rough stretch.— Tony Jones (@tribjazz) November 15, 2017
The Jazz are hoping that the Ricky Rubio experiment can get back on track during this East Coast road trip.
When: Wednesday, November 15, 5:30PM MDT
Where: Madison Square Gardens, New York City, NY
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 and 97.5 The Zone
Rudy Gobert - Knee - Targeting mid-December
Joe Johnson - Wrist - 1-2 weeks
Dante Exum - Shoulder - Out indefinitely
New York Knicks:
Ron Baker - Shoulder - Day to Day
What To Watch For:
Where in the world is Ricky Rubio?
Ricky started out the season looking like a new point guard. It was like someone was finally treating him as an 8 cow point guard. But it all came crashing down after his 5th game. Rubio has looked very not like Rubio. The joy in his play is gone. It appears he’s trying to make up for his poor play over the past 7 games in every possession. In short, it looks like what is happening to Rubio is between the ears.
In Rudy Gobert’s absence, the Utah Jazz desperately need Rubio to shake off this slump and keep them in the playoff hunt as an extended losing streak will put them out of reach of making a run by the end of December.
First road win
The Utah Jazz have yet to pull out a victory on the road this season. They haven’t had many opportunities to do so since they’ve played a home heavy schedule to start out the season. The Jazz will have four chances on this road trip to get a W. The Knicks, who have also benefited from a home heavy schedule to start the season, are 6-2 at home. This isn’t going to be an easy win.
D-Faves vs Unicorn
Utah is relying on Derrick Favors to lead them to victory in Rudy’s absence. Favors has been moved to the center position and tonight he will face off against the unicorn: Kristaps Porzingis. This will not be an easy matchup for Derrick Favors.
Kristaps Porzingis is putting in an MVP year so far with 29.5 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game while averaging 32 minutes a game. That’s ... uh ... good. This is going to open the already vulnerable Utah Jazz paint up to slashers as Favors is pulled from the interior. Utah’s perimeter defense will have to be on point. Most importantly, Derrick Favors will have to find a way to slow down Porzingod.
Most Likely Jazz-Killer: Enes Kanter
We haven’t talked a lot about Enes Kanter in this preview, but this feels like a prime game for a Kanterevenge. The Jazz are missing their top interior defender. They will probably be playing someone undersized at the 4 position. Kanter wants to show Utah that he was the best big out of that trio of Gobert, Favors and himself (which he may not be the best, but he could be the 2nd best ...).
Enes Kanter is averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds for the season with the Knicks and, wait for it, is actually putting up some good +/- numbers in the process. This seems like the night Kanter has his time under the lights of Madison Square Garden.