The last time the Jazz and Grizzlies met, the Jazz were recovering from a heartbreaking, yet not completely shocking loss. Just like when these two teams met almost two weeks ago, the Jazz are coming off of a loss that could have gone either way. The difference this time is the manner in which they let Minnesota Timberwolves backup point guard Derrick Rose go off for a career high 50 points was completely shocking. The challenge now for the Jazz is to not fall into the ‘emotional hangover trap game”. Granted that when healthy the Grizzlies are a lot better team than most people think, but the Jazz are the better team from top to bottom. With the Jazz coming off of an emotional loss and still searching for that first home win of the season they will surely be on a mission to right the ship. More so to prove that their last game against the Grizzlies was an aberration.
Memphis’ schedule has been a bit soft so far this year with 3 of their 4 wins coming from the Hawks, Suns and Wizards but they have won their last two and 3 of the last 4. With their latest win coming at home their record stands at 2-4. It’s still early in the season but the Memphis Grizzlies are looking every bit the team they did when they were last healthy two years ago. It remains to be seen if they can stay healthy for the whole season but if they can they should be able to compete for a playoff spot. Let’s not forget that they have two all star level players in Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. They also have promising rookie Jaren Jackson Jr. who can stretch the floor and create all kinds of matchup problems for front courts around the league. The Jazz struggle against teams that have a 5 that can stretch the floor and they must find a way to at least slow down the combination of Gasol and Jackson.
The Jazz have struggled to find consistency with some of their key players so far season. They have started the season 4-1 on the road and looked good for the most part but at times their offense has sputtered and they have looked out of sync. Figuring things out on offense will be one of the keys to this game, especially as it was announced today that Donovan Mitchell will sit out with hamstring soreness. The one thing that they Jazz have going for them in the face of such an injury is that they are one of the deepest teams in the league. It’s hard to replace Donovan Mitchell’s scoring but if the defense plays better than they did two night ago and one or two bench players step up with a big game, I like the Jazz chances to pick up the W. The most intriguing part of this game to watch will be to see if Rudy Gobert can continue the string of excellent play that he has put together so far. We are seeing Rudy become more confident and more aggressive on offense, which is a welcome sight for the team. It will be interesting to see if Gobert can continue his stellar play against a caliber of player like Marc Gasol. I also like the Jazz chances of winning if he can.
Even though this is expected to be a bounce back game for the Jazz the reality is that it will be a tough game once again. The Grizzlies didn’t earn the nickname “Grit n’ Grind” for no reason. Once the opening tip goes up the Jazz must be prepared to not get bogged down by the slugfest that the Grizzlies want to turn it into. It will be especially tough with a player like Mitchell sidelined but I think this is a great opportunity for the Jazz to refocus on team basketball and pushback on a Grizzlies team that completely shut them down two weeks ago.
When: 7:00MT • Friday, November 2nd, 2018
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena · Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NBA League Pass
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Raul Neto — Hamstring — OUT
Derrick Favors — Knee soreness — QUESTIONABLE
Alec Burks — Hand Sprain — QUESTIONABLE
Jae Crowder — Ankle Sprain — PROBABLE
Donovan Mitchell — Hamstring — OUT
Chandler Parsons — Knee — OUT
JaMychal Green — Knee — OUT
What to watch for
Who will step up as this year’s injury plague has struck?
Death, taxes, and a third of the Jazz’s lineup out with injuries on a nightly basis. If anything, the Utah Jazz are consistent. The Jazz will be looking to avenge their last loss with a roster that looks like it suffered through a snap of Thanos. Donovan Mitchell? Out. Derrick Favors? Questionable. Jae Crowder? Questionable. Alec Burks? Out. Raul Neto? Out. The Utah Jazz will be relying HEAVILY on their much balleyhooed depth. Dante Exum, Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neale and Georges Niang will all have to provide solid minutes tonight for Utah to have a chance in this game.
That’s not to say it’s the bench’s responsibility to step up for Donovan and Derrick. Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles will need to have big games tonight if Utah is to escape with a win. Both have been going through their respective struggles on the court. While Joe Ingles started off the year hot and cooled off, Rubio has been struggling since preseason and only has one lone good offensive game to his resume for this season. The Jazz need more than ever for the Rubio of last season to make his heroic return.
Rudy Gobert vs Marc Gasol: Part 2
Marc Gasol is Rudy Gobert’s kryptonite. If Gasol dominates the Frenchman again tonight, many Jazz fans may be calling for Utah to trade for Gasol just so he can’t be weaponized against the Jazz. Marc Gasol is a rare big and wide body that can space the floor and be a playmaker with his passing ability. Rudy Gobert has been a monster this year, but the Utah Jazz need to employ some good team defense in order to counter this Rudynite.
Georges Niang and the Jazz’s wings better be ready to switch on the perimeter so Gobert can stay in the paint and do what he does best. Likewise they have to be ready to communicate when Gasol takes the mismatch down low in order to get Gobert back on the Spanish Center.