After a humbling loss to a depleted Boston squad at home on Wednesday night, the Utah Jazz look to bounce back against the tanking Memphis Grizzlies. In Utah’s last game, they gave up a 4 point lead with less than 2 minutes to go in the game due to bad turnovers and mental mistakes. The Boston Celtics—well aware of Utah’s recent struggles from the three point line—employed a zone that shut down Utah’s offense. One would hope that Utah doesn’t see a zone defense tonight or that Quin Snyder at least practiced against it.
Quin Snyder will also have a chance to experiment more with lineups in tonight’s matchup. Snyder could conceivably receive some of the blame for letting the Jazz struggle against the zone while leaving Dante Exum and Derrick Favors on the bench. Dante Exum was the only Jazz player who successfully was scoring against the college defense, and Derrick Favors was one of the few Jazz players with a positive +/- in the game.
The Memphis Grizzlies come into this game on their tanking tour. With the bottom of the standings just as competitive as the playoff standings, Memphis can ill afford a win and find themselves with a significantly lower chance at a top draft pick—especially when one considers their teams financial troubles and attendance this last year. But don’t tell that to MarShon Brooks.
In MarShon Brooks’ first game back in the NBA, he went off for 21 points against the Portland Trail Blazers while shooting five for five from deep. The Utah Jazz will want to keep him in check. Dante Exum seems to be the prime candidate for defending the lanky guard. Dante Exum continues to look good with every passing game. One has to wonder if Exum will cannibalize Royce O’Neale’s minutes as the rookie swingman has been struggling offensively.
When: Friday, March 30, 7:00pm MT
Where: Vivint Smarthome Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T Sportsnet - Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Raul Neto - Wrist (Out)
Thabo Sefolosha - (Out for season)
Mike Conley - Achilles (OUT)
Chandler Parsons -
Tanking Rest (OUT)
Andrew Harrison - Wrist (Day to Day)
Tyreke Evans -
Tanking Personal (OUT)
What to watch for
Donovan Mitchell getting back in rhythm
Donovan Mitchell has had an amazing March for any rookie, but he hasn’t had a great month compared to past Donovan Mitchell. Donovan’s three point shooting in the month of March has been at 29%. The only month he shot worse from three was in November. In November he didn’t have the opponent’s best defender on him; in March, he has. With the grind of a full regular season of 82 games almost at its end, it appears Donovan Mitchell has begun to look mortal from the three point line. A game against the struggling Memphis Grizzlies could be just what the doctor ordered ... then again ... we said that about the Atlanta Hawks.
Dante Exum finally gets past the 20 minute mark
Dante Exum has played great since he has returned. Any worries that his summer league and preseason were an anomaly have looked premature. Since returning from injury he has averaged 6.4 points, 1.4 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in only 12 minutes a game. To put that in perspective, his rookie year he only averaged 4.8 points, 1.6 rebounds, and 2.4 assists in 22 minutes a game. Dante Exum has learned how to be efficient and use his gifts.
On the other hand, Royce O’Neale has hit the rookie wall offensively. While his defense is still as stout as ever, his lack of offensive production is making it hard to play him alongside Ricky Rubio. In the month of March, the Ricky Rubio-Royce O’Neale pairing only has an offensive rating of 94.1 and an effective FG% of 43.8%.
It might be time to shake things up a bit especially as Dante Exum is getting his confidence back and is gifted on the offensive side of the ball. Tonight should be the first night Exum gets past the 20 minutes mark off the bench.
Most Likely Jazz Killer: MarShon Brooks
The dude torched the Portland Trail Blazers. Utah has been getting lit up by scrub backcourts lately. This seems in the realm of possibility.