The Jazz (26-21) rematch the Blazers (28-19) on a blustery Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with blizzards smashing arenas all around the country, a callback to the Jazz’s two big December games (and wins) against Portland. The Jazz won the first in Portland 120-90 and the second in Utah on Christmas 117-96, so perhaps it’s fair to say that the Jazz may have the Blazers’ number. In spite of this, the records still show the Blazers in the 4th seed and the Jazz in 7th, with the Clippers, Lakers, and Kings all in striking distance, so this game (and those remaining in January, with games against the Nuggets, Wolves twice, and Blazers again) will be critical to the Jazz’s postseason success. With this win, the Jazz clinch the season matchup and tiebreaker over Portland.
The Trail Blazers have done well since Christmas, winning nine of 13, with good wins over the Rockets, 76ers, Kings (on the road, in OT), and Warriors (in the Oracle). Obviously, the Jazz are riding a season-high six game win streak, mostly over bad-to-mediocre teams, but they generally match up very well against the Blazers even in spite of injuries. With Ricky Rubio potentially back tonight, the Jazz should be able to put up stout defence against one of the best offensive backcourts in the league.
Radio: Rip City Radio 620, 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
When: Monday, Jan. 21, 2019 • 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T Sports Net-Rocky Mountain, NBC Sports Northwest
Radio: WSCR-AM 670 AM The Score, 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
Ricky Rubio – Right Hamstring – QUESTIONABLE
Dante Exum – Left Ankle Sprain – OUT
Raul Neto – Groin – OUT
Thabo Sefolosha – Right Hamstring – OUT
Tony Bradley – Right Knee Surgery – OUT
Portland Trail Blazers:
Must be nice.
What to watch for
Gobert has averaged 20.0 rebounds per game in his last four contests. He has three consecutive games with at least 15 points and 15 rebounds. His dominance has led the Jazz to a league leading 101.7 defensive rating in December, and 4th overall (104.4) on the season. Just check out these stats from our dear Andy Bailey:
Current top 30 players in the NBA this season, according to the AVERAGE OF THEIR RANKS in 10 catch-alls...— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) January 21, 2019
Real +/- Wins
Player Impact +/-
Player Impact +/- Wins
Total Points Added
Win Shares per 36 MIN
Game Score per 36 MIN
Cumulative Game Score pic.twitter.com/4ia02VW4Aj
Needless to say, we love Rudy, and he’s only getting better! With his matchup against talented big man Jusuf Nurkic, expect him to come out on fire and show why he deserves to be in the All-Star Game.
The Utah Jazz isn’t the only team with unheralded, “deceptively good” shooters playing for them. The 6’ 9” Layman has started only 25 games this season for the Blazers at the small forward position, averaging 6.6 points and 2.5 rebounds, but he really can get hot, with 20 points in the second quarter against the Pelicans (and none in the other quarters!):
The Jazz need to make sure to not let him go off randomly, a la this guy...
The Jazz seem to have had the Blazers’ number so far this season, but they’re still a top ten offence that gets hot in a hurry. Keep Jusuf Nurkic under control, limit at least one of Lillard and McCollum, and don’t let the Jazz guard rotation get too thin, and the Jazz should do well.