The Jazz (29-22) rematch the Blazers (31-20) on national TV, for their fourth and final meetup of the season. The Jazz currently lead the series 2-1 after dominating the first two by 51 combined points before losing a close battle, 109-104, for their only loss in their last 10 games. And in spite of that stellar record, both teams have three wins and one loss including the game they last played (Blazers lost to the Thunder in OKC 123-114), so the two teams again matchup with the Blazers in the 4th seed and the Jazz in 7th. This is a huge game with massive playoff implications, broadcast on the nation’s largest sports network. Damian Lillard and Evan Turner (effectively) didn’t play the last game against the Atlanta, because of “soreness”, allowing CJ McCollum to notch a 28p-10r-10a tripled double. Did I mention the Jazz are on the road?
When: Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019 • 8:30 PM MT
Where: Moda Center • Portland, OR
TV: AT&T Sports Net-Rocky Mountain, NBC Sports Northwest
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone, Rip City Radio 620
Dante Exum – Left Ankle Sprain – OUT
Raul Neto – Groin – OUT
Thabo Sefolosha – Right Hamstring – OUT
Tony Bradley – Right Knee Surgery – OUT
Nik Stauskas – Left Knee – OUT
What to watch for
Rudy Gobert vs Jusuf Nurkic
Last preview, I wrote “The Jazz seem to have had the Blazers’ number so far this season, but they’re still a top ten offense 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.”
Well, the Jazz mostly did a good job - while Lillard had 26p-8r-8a, McCollum was held to 14p-4r-4a - Jusuf Nurkic was a problem for Rudy the entire night. Beasting and feasting with 22 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 6 blocks, Nurkic had 17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 assists, and 1 steal in the crucial 3rd quarter the Blazers won 39-28 to put the Blazers up on top. In that same time period, Gobert got his shot blocked by Nurkic, gave up a technical foul and shooting foul to Nurkic, and had a turnover that was stolen by Nurkic.
Nurk said in his post game interview that “They started talking a little bit too much. ... I’m too busy to have all those conversations.’’ Though Rudy wasn’t completely at fault for Nurk’s dominant 3rd quarter, suffice it to say that Rudy will come out and look to dominate. He won’t be take advantaged of two times in a row.
Three Point Shooting
The Jazz missed seven straight three pointers down the stretch, including a painfully open corner three by Jinglin’ Joe. As a whole, the Jazz shot only 7 from 33 (21.2%) in their loss, a sore statistic when you consider the Jazz shot 16 for 31 and 13 for 29 in their other two matchups. In fact, when the Jazz hit fewer than 10 three point shots in a game, their record is 4-12; that’s a record of 25-10 when 10 or more threes are made. Similarly, the Jazz are 3-12 when shooting less than 30.0% and 7-16 when shooting less than 33.3% (Stats from BBRef). That’s not to say other teams aren’t bad when they shoot badly - the Blazers are 6-11, 3-11, and 7-13 in those three categories I just stated - but more than ever, wins and losses in the NBA correlate with ability to hit from distance. Let’s hope the Jazz can get it going from deep in the Moda Center.
Go Jazz Go!