After two disappointing losses against the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies, the Utah Jazz head into Denver to hopefully find their identity against the Nuggets.
With the pace up around the league, the Jazz are struggling to defend at the same level as last year. Against the Grizzlies they allowed 52% shooting from three and against the Wolves they allowed Derrick Rose to go off for 50 points.
Those may be flukes, or it could be a trend. Either way the Jazz need to figure it out soon because the Western Conference is unforgiving to teams without a clear winning formula.
Finding their defensive focus won’t be easy tonight as the Nuggets have one of the best offenses in the league led by the enigmatic Nicola Jokic who seemingly does it all from the center position.
Utah has struggled against stretch 5’s and 5-out offenses and they’ll face the same tonight with the Nuggets who will spread the floor and run the offense through Jokic and Paul Millsap.
To make things worse,as of this morning, it’s still a question whether Donovan Mitchell will play. Not having him at the end of the Wolves and Grizzlies games, it was clear the Jazz needed a lead scoring threat. They have also missed his defense that has helped lead them to multiple wins this year.
Mitchell was warming up against the Grizzlies which might be a sign that he plays tonight. But nothing is for sure, and Mitchell’s long term health is the most important thing.
Donovan Mitchell going through pregame warmups. He won’t play tonight, but that they’re having him go through this level of activity is a very good sign for him being available very soon. pic.twitter.com/mojTEwmYsg— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 3, 2018
When: 7:00MT • Saturday, November 3rd, 2018
Where: Pepsi Center · Denver, CO
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
Donovan Mitchell — Hamstring — UNKNOWN
Will Barton — Hip — OUT
Isaiah Thomas — Hip — OUT
Michael Porter Jr. — Back — OUT
Jarred Vanderbilt — Foot — OUT
What to watch for
Will the real Ricky Rubio please stand up?
Ricky Rubio has been a tale of extremes to start the season. He’s either scoring single digits with more turnovers than assists, like in Minnesota, or putting on a show and leading the team in +/- like he did last night against the Grizzlies.
Rubio doesn’t need to be the superstar of this team to help them win, but he does need to be more consistent. And that consistency has to be on both sides of the floor. Currently, opposing point guards are killing Rubio on defense. When you couple that with his increased turnovers and poor shooting on the year, it makes it tough to win.
But, when Rubio is playing well, the Jazz are one of the best teas in the league. The best thing for Rubio is to play more controlled, smarter on defense, and have more consistency with his shooting. If he can do that, the Jazz can compete with anybody and should do well against the Nuggets tonight.