Home is where the heart is—or for the Utah Jazz—home is where the losses are. The Utah Jazz haven’t spent much time in the confines of Vivint Smart Home Arena, but when they have been there, they have gone 2-6. The Utah Jazz actually have the fewest home wins of any team in the NBA. They also have played the fewest games at home (8). So when the San Antonio Spurs (11-12) visit Salt Lake City today, the Utah Jazz hope to turn a corner from their inconsistent ways.
The San Antonio Spurs are mired in their own problems similar to Utah. They enter this game 4-6 in their last ten—just like Utah—but coming off a big win in San Antonio against the Portland Trail Blazers. While Utah’s problem has been the complacency that comes from continuity, San Antonio is adjusting from a lack of it as they move past the Kawhi Leonard era to the DeMar DeRozan era. Their top scorers are DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
San Antonio has been faced with a slew of injuries to their point guard position to start the season. Dejounte Murray is out for the season and numerous other guards have been in and out of the lineup. That’s not to feel sorry for San Antonio, but their situation almost mirrors Utah’s situation where they lost their starting point guard and star wing in the same offseason.
Utah on the other hand looked like they were close to turning the corner with wins over Brooklyn and Charlotte, then laid an egg in Miami. Miami was down to just 9 active players on their roster with only one guard active. Utah managed to lose a close game due to poor shot selection down the stretch from Donovan Mitchell, an off game from Derrick Favors, and rough play from their bench.
Utah will be hoping that some good old home cooking, consistent practice time, and sleeping in their own bed will do some wonders for their success.
When: 7:00 PM MT • Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports Sun
Radio: 1280AM/97.5 FM The Zone
San Antonio Spurs:
Marco Bellinelli — Neck — Day to Day
Pau Gasol — Foot — OUT
Dejounte Murray — Knee — OUT
What to watch for
Donovan Mitchell’s shot selection
Donovan Mitchell can get to the rim better than most anyone in the NBA. He should be averaging more FTAs per game. While Utah might not be getting a fair whistle—see Rudy Gobert’s comments—the other part of that might be a result of Donovan not forcing officials to make a call as often and creating contact. Donovan Mitchell getting to the line and not forcing contested off the bounce 3 pointers seems to be this season’s battle with his efficiency.
While it’s unfair to Mitchell that he has to shoulder this burden of Utah’s success this young in his career, he has to shoulder it because no one else can. He has to be more discipline and refined earlier in his career than most players in order for Utah to beat good teams.
DeMar DeRozan vs modern basketball
You thought DeRozan would average more 3 pointers with the San Antonio Spurs, didn’t you? We all did. Instead DeMar’s one year surge in three point attempts dropped to 1.4 a game. The fewest in his career since his rookie year. It’s like Coach Popovich found someone to be his sidekick fighting the windmills of the modern NBA. Pop is bringing boring basketball back with DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge as they sling mid range shot after mid range shot.
That could prove to be a problem for Utah as they have had extreme difficulty this season guarding the mid range. This team is offensively designed to capitalize on Utah’s biggest defensive flaw—other than just beating up on its bench. If San Antonio is making those mid range shots early, Utah could be on the wrong end of a blowout at home ... again.