After a busy trade deadline, the Utah Jazz start a new chapter—albeit, without their key addition, Jae Crowder. The Utah Jazz are looking to get their eighth straight victory of the season tonight against the Charlotte Hornets, but they’ll be doing it without some key contributors they’ve had all season.
Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson were traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Sacramento Kings, respectively, yesterday. Rodney Hood, when healthy, was Utah’s second leading scorer. Jae Crowder, who the Jazz just acquired from Cleveland is still waiting to be cleared to play after the trade. So the Utah Jazz will be short some key players, but that hasn’t stopped Utah from winning if the past winning streak is any indication. They’ve racked up wins despite missed games from Rodney Hood and subpar shooting performances from Joe Johnson.
Tonight’s game is the first game of the true Donovan Mitchell era. He is the show, and tonight the Jazz will be relying upon the rookie solely for big time scoring.
On the Hornets side, Kemba Walker was on the receiving side of a lot of trade rumors. Nothing came of fruition from those rumors, and Kemba has remained a Hornet. He could be in for a revenge game to show his worth. Ricky Rubio, who has been on a tear, will have his work cut out for him on the defensive side of the ball.
When: Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 • 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivint Smarthome Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 and 97.5 The Zone
Dante Exum - OUT (Shoulder)
Thabo Sefolosha - OUT (Knee)
Ekpe Udoh - OUT (Personal Reasons)
None - How nice.
What To Watch For:
Ricky Rubio vs Kemba Walker
Who would have thought that Rubio would be the must watch matchup? His play has been stellar. He’s been on a tear and, believe it or not, is shooting better from three this year than Jae Crowder. Over this winning streak, he’s been dynamite off the dribble and is starting to force more teams to go over the screen while guarding him. This has opened up the floor for his passing and his assist total has climbed significantly. Kemba is Kemba. He’s one of the best scorers in the league and can fill it up. Rubio has been a dog on defense. Kemba’s points are not going to come easy.
Dealing with the vacancies
The Utah Jazz will have a rough time filling two spots left by Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood. They don’t have the luxury of Jae Crowder being in the lineup yet. They will need big games from Alec Burks, Royce O’Neale, Jonas Jerebko, and Ekpe Udoh tonight as they fill in the production left by Hood and Johnson. They will miss Hood’s floor spacing and miss Joe Johnson’s swagger and gravity. This could be the reason the Jazz’s seven game winning streak comes to an end.
Most Likely Jazz Killer: Kemba Walker
You don’t have to get creative with this. He’s an insane scorer and the Utah Jazz are going through an adjustment with the trade deadline. If Rubio is not on his game defensively (or Raul Neto), Kemba could have a big game in Utah.