The Utah Jazz may be down their entire point guard corps, but you wouldn’t have guessed it by their swagger. The Jazz, winners of their last three games, are enjoying the perks of playing at home: sleeping in your own bed, some home cooking, and even blaring Africa by Toto over the load speakers at their practice facility. Life is good. Tonight they’ll be tested by Detroit to see if life can get even better.
Detroit, who scored a victory in Los Angeles against the Clippers, will be looking to avenge the loss they suffered against the Utah Jazz at home just a few games ago. While Utah is down Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, and Raul Neto at point guard, they are enjoying the success that Donovan Mitchell has brought them at point guard.
Donovan Mitchell has been balling the last 5 games, averaging 30.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.6 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.0 blocks with shooting splits of 48/47/82. He’s been an absolute monster. The Utah Jazz could very well be getting a glimpse into their future with Donovan Mitchell being handed the reigns at the position John Stockton consecrated in Utah.
While Donovan Mitchell is back to being the tip of the spear of Utah’s offensive attack, Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale are bouncing back to their 2017-2018 level of play. Royce is averaging 7.0 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 50% from beyond the arc. Perennial MVP candidate and first ballot hall of famer Joe Ingles is averaging 12 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists on 40% shooting from beyond the arc. The Jazz are back to getting solid production from their 3 and D players.
With the Pistons, they’re a one man show despite having Andre Drummond to help along the way. Detroit’s success begins and ends with Blake Griffin. Full Stop. He’s having a career year averaging 25.6 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 5.3 apg with shooting splits of 48/36/76. He’s the entire engine, drivetrain, transmission, body, clutch, everything to Detroit’s muscle.
Luckily for Utah, they’re not short on bodies in their frontcourt. They’ll be able to throw a relentless amount of able bodied defenders who can match Griffin in size and strength in Crowder, Favors, Udoh, and Gobert.
There’s an additional carrot to tonight’s game for Utah. The Jazz have not won more than 3 games in a row all season long. With a win tonight, the Jazz would have their season’s longest winning streak with 4 games.
When: 7:00 MT • Monday, January 14th, 2019
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena · Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet / NBA League Pass
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM
Utah Jazz (23-21)
Ricky Rubio - Hamstring - OUT
Dante Exum - Ankle - OUT
Thabo Sefolosha - Hamstring - OUT
Tony Bradley - Knee - OUT
Raul Neto - Groin - OUT
Detroit Pistons (18-23)
Henry Ellison - Ankle - OUT
Zaza Pachulia - Leg - Day to Day
Ish Smith - Groin - Day to Day
Faves vs Griffin
It’s time for a good old fashioned big man rumble. Derrick Favors has been a beast this year as he continues to fend off fans’ trade machine runs and the Modern NBA trying to put a wing in his justly earned Power Forward spot. Tonight, he’ll get to match up against Blake Griffin who in a way is fighting to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving NBA spacing game.
While Derrick Favors isn’t going to be burning any nets by his three point shooting, he is going to be tasked with Blake Griffin who basically is playing point forward for the Detroit Pistons. Blake can shoot it from three off the dribble (not well, but not bad either) and he’s a threat to take it rim off the dribble. It’s going to be a tough defensive assignment. Luckily for Favors, he has Gobert there to help him, but Gobert might have his hands tied dealing with Andre Drummond, one of the few big men in the NBA who can push Gobert around down low.
Favors has been amazing on the defensive end and will also have to guard Drummond when Gobert is off the floor. If the Jazz win this one going away, it’ll be the result of Favors play on the defensive end.
The Utah Jazz bench
To say that Utah’s bench was bad last night would be an understatement. The entire Utah Jazz bench had a negative net rating against the lowly Chicago Bulls save for Kyle Korver. Jae Crowder went 1 for 13. Grayson Allen struggled in his first game back to the lineup. While it may not be fair to ask Grayson Allen to play at a high level the first game back from injury after playing most his minutes this season in G-League, it’s the freaking Chicago Bulls who you could swap with the Windy City Bulls and quite possibly win just as many games with.
Utah’s bench will not be able to bring the same performance tonight against the Pistons and expect that the starting lineup will be able to save them. Donovan Mitchell cannot play 48 full minutes for Utah, neither can Gobert. Next man up applies to this entire Utah Jazz roster with all of the injuries. Utah needs their 15th, 16th, and 17th men to play big tonight to give their starters some rest so the Jazz aren’t facing a second string of injuries in February due to their starters playing heavy minutes in January.