The Utah Jazz look to overcome insurmountable odds tonight as they face one of the league’s hottest teams led by MVP candidate James Harden. Utah’s coming off their 1st win since the 11 game win streak was snapped and is looking to start a new one. The challenge could prove to be too much as they face The Beard. Harden has lit the Jazz up as he has scored 56, 29, and, and 26 in their last 3 games.
If the Utah Jazz just had to worry about James Harden that would be fine, but Houston’s record breaking offense also boasts Eric Gordon who can light it up from the bench and Chris Paul who has become a Jazz killer since Deron Williams was traded away from Utah. Utah will need to see that #1 in the league defensive rating that we got a glimpse of during January and February before the All Star break.
Utah hasn’t looked like the same team since coming out of the All-Star break. Silly turnovers and lackadaisical play doomed them against Portland and almost gave them an embarrassing loss against the tanking Dallas Mavericks at home. It took some late game heroics from Donovan and crew to put a stop to what could have been a terrible loss for a team inching their way closer to the playoff race.
Utah will hope that Ricky Rubio gets back to the Rubio pre-injury and pre-All Star break. Rubio before the All Star Break looked like he was finally putting the pieces together. He was flourishing in Utah’s offense and finishing well at the tin. Since returning he has turned the ball over and looked out of sorts. He still has his trademark “give a damn” effort on the defensive and offensive end, but offensively it’s not turning into positive play overall. Hopefully with two games under his belt from injury, he’s able to shake the rust off and have a good game against the Houston Rockets tonight.
When: Monday, February 26, 2018 • 7:00 p.m. MT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
Dante Exum - OUT (Shoulder)
Thabo Sefolosha - OUT (Knee)
Raul Neto - OUT (Boyishly Good Looks)
Eric Gordon - OUT (Flu-like symptoms / Utah #Nightlife undefeated)
Clint Capela - OUT (Flu-like symptoms / Utah #Nightlife undefeated)
Ryan Anderson - OUT (Hip Soreness)
Brandon Wright - OUT
What to Watch For:
Guarding this fire and brimstone offense
Houston isn’t just the best offense in the league this year, they’re one of the best offenses of all time. They’re on pace to be better than any Golden State offense. You have to open a history book to find that they’re the best offense since the 70s. So what does that mean for Utah? When Utah was clicking they were able to shut down both the Raptors and Warriors. They’ll have to bring that same intensity tonight. Rotations will need to be crisp, one on one defense at its best, and most of all somehow figure out how to not foul James Harden. That’s easier said than done. Listen to what Snyder said about avoiding fouling Harden.
.@tribjazz: “How do you defend James Harden without fouling?”— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) February 26, 2018
Quin Snyder: “Well Tony, that’s a full-on philosophical question ...”
An opening caused by a sickness
Eric Gordon is top on the list of Jazz killer mountain. It’s a tall order to stop three Jazz killers, but it’s easier to put down the beast if one is sick. Eric Gordon being out would help the Jazz tremendously. If he’s playing then the Jazz only have to deal two heads of the dragon while the third is recovering from the flu. That could help the Jazz pull off the upset.
Most Likely Jazz Killer: James Harden
Let’s not get cute with this one. He’s a Jazz terror and tonight won’t be any exception.