The Utah Jazz are feeling pretty good about themselves. They are on a three game winning streak, their rookie phenom just won Rookie of the Month for the second straight month, and Ricky Rubio is finally settling in to his new surroundings. They will face a Suns team tonight in Phoenix that has lost five of our their last six games with their only win being against fellow bottom feeder, the Dallas Mavericks.
This will not be an easy win for Utah as the Phoenix Suns have been playing much harder for Jay Triano than they ever did for Earl Watson. Wins are never guaranteed when Devin Booker is on the court and can ignite at any moment for 30-40 points. Luckily for Utah, they have their own weapon at shooting guard, Donovan Mitchell, who can score with the best of them and defend the best of them. Donovan Mitchell averaged over 22 points a game in January and has shown no signs of slowing down entering February.
The Utah Jazz are a much different team than the last time they played the Phoenix Suns. The Jazz are playing with a quicker tempo and in the last 7 games are up to 11th in the league. That’s a huge difference from DEAD LAST in October. This faster pace has unlocked Rubio’s pacing ability, allowed Donovan’s athleticism to shine, and helped Utah avoid the pitfalls of their self inflicting death lineup of Rubio-Favors-Gobert.
When: Friday, February 2, 7 PM (MST)
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 and 97.5 The Zone
Rodney Hood - Leg (Day to Day)
Thabo Sefolosha - Knee (OUT)
Dante Exum - Shoulder (OUT)
Isaiah Canaan - Leg (OUT)
Brandon Knight - Knee (OUT)
Alex Len - Ankle - (Questionable)
Alan Williams - Knee (OUT)
What To Watch For:
Devin Booker vs Donovan Mitchell
This is the show right here. Devin Booker is averaging 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists a game. That’s no small thing, but luckily, as we said, Utah has a Spina-Man. Donovan Mitchell is averaging 19 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists a game. He’s also a ball-hawk and a tough defender. This matchup is going to be a fun one to watch. Donovan Mitchell could have himself a big time game against Phoenix’s league worst defense. Devin Booker could struggle tonight as he’s facing a Jazz defense with a now healthy Stifle Tower. The Jazz’s defense is back to being on the of the toughest in the league over the past 7 games.
The Stifle Tower is back
In the past five games, Rudy Gobert has averaged a defensive rating of 100.1. Keep in mind, the Utah Jazz are playing at a faster pace and Rudy’s defense is still holding stout. This has allowed Utah’s offensive rating to skyrocket. Utah’s net rating over their past 7 games is the fourth best over that span with the league’s 10th best offense. Those are some numbers that harken back to last year’s Jazz team when they were in their groove. Now this is only over a 7 game span, but it does seem Utah is finding their rhythm. All of this improvement coincides with Rudy Gobert’s return.
Most Likely Jazz Killer: TJ Warren
This one is easy. He’s already taken out one Jazz player this year—Dante Exum—that kind of fits the bill for this category, doesn’t it?