The Jazz (29-28) host the Suns after an incredible, unbelievable, amazing, fantastic, ridiculous, inconceivable 10 wins in a row, with 7 on the road, and no consecutive set of home games. They’ve toppled the current 1st, 3rd (twice!), 7th, and 8th seeds of the Western Conference, and the 1st seed in the east. 10 is a huge number, and the Jazz look to extend that streak tonight.
The Suns (18-40) are still really bad. They’ve lost 6 in a row to get into a three-way tank-off tie between the Hawks and Mavs, and look to secure their 4th top 5 pick in the last 6 years. Their 46 point loss to the self-coached Warriors on Monday was their 4th 40+ point loss of the season - matching the number of regular-season 40-point losses they had in the first 49 years of the franchise. In fact, as a whole, all 29 other teams in the NBA have lost by 40+ times only 4 times this season. With top scorers Devin Booker and Troy Daniels possibly out, it’s going to be hard if Elfrid “traded for a second round pick” “hair in my eyes” Payton is your main offensive weapon.
What I’m trying to say is that this shouldn’t be a hard game. Of course, that makes it a trap game, especially because the last loss the Jazz had was to Atlanta of all teams. With players especially anxious to get their All-Star break on, there of course must be constant vigilance and the drive to put this game far out of reach early.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 • 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
TV: FSA, ATTSN-RM
Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
Dante Exum - Shoulder - Out indefinitely, but cleared for non-contact drills.
Ricky Rubio - Hip - Questionable, details to be updated
Thabo Sefolosha - MCL avulsion, out for the season
Tyler Ulis - Back - Probable
Devin Booker - Hip - Questionable
Troy Daniels - Finger - Questionable
Brandon Knight - Knee - Out for the season (ACL tear)
Tyson Chandler - Neck - Questionable
Alan Williams - Knee surgery - Returning “some point in February or March”
What To Watch For:
Joe Ingles and 3PT%
The Jazz are way too hot from three right now. Utah during the streak has hit 45.6 percent of its open 3s and 48 percent of its wide-open 3s, per NBA.com This really shouldn’t be sustainable, but the likes of Joe Ingles, Ricky Rubio, and Donovan Mitchell shooting 57.1%, 54.1%, and 41.1% in the winning streak on 14.3 shots per game. It is only ten games, but this new shooting streak seems to be pretty consistently sustainable, buoyed especially by Ingles’ new willingness to shoot it.
Speaking of Joe Ingles, the Jazz are 22-11 whenever he scores 10 or more points, and 5-0 whenever he’s scored 20 or more. In the 10 game winning streak, he’s only scored less than 10 points once. He’s hit multiple career highs during this streak. Of course correlation does not mean causation, but his willingness to shoot more really seems to have opened things up for the Jazz. The Aussie has always been integral to the Jazz offense, but I never would have imagined that Joe Ingles could actually be such a threat. Plus, his affability and camaraderie with his teammates make him the glue guy every team would love to have. Jingle jingle!
Check out this amazing fact, if you haven’t seen it around the NBA Twittersphere already:
The Jazz have won 10 consecutive games -- and rookie Donovan Mitchell has been the team's leading scorer during the streak.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 13, 2018
He's the 1st rookie to lead his team in scoring during a 10-game winning streak since Wilt Chamberlain for the 1959-60 Warriors.
(h/t @EliasSports) pic.twitter.com/4GBIUKSRfZ
Of course, this stat is as cherry picked as the rest of them, given that Mitchell missed one of the games, basically didn’t play in another, and Ricky Rubio, Rodney Hood, and Rudy Gobert have all had individual team-high scoring games during the win streak. But Donovan also put up his second 40 point game against the Suns earlier in this streak, so look for him to detonate once again!
Most Likely Jazz-Killer: TJ Warren
He’s the Suns’ second leading scorer at about 20 points per game (excluding the two games Elfrid Payton has played). He’s literally killed (okay, injured) some Jazz players before (get well soon, Dante!). Watch out for this man.