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Utah Jazz look to keep the band going against the Golden State Warriors

Two teams lacking identities meet on a rainy evening

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

The Jazz (14-11) are in a weird spot – still. Let’s take a look at the western conference standings, with annotations per my most excellent Microsoft paint skills:

There’s very clearly at least five tiers with somewhat fuzzy borders on what you would call the difference between a “true contender” and simply “very good” and “mediocrely bad” and “just bad”, but it’s clear that the Jazz are stuck in a tier of their own - better than being mediocre, but simply just not anywhere to really compete and make noise.

Anyway, the Jazz fandom has probably beat this horse to death over the last few weeks, so I’ll just give a recap of how the other team is doing: it’s lucky that the Jazz get to play the worst of the worst tier at home tonight. The Warriors got beat by the Knicks and now maintain the singular spot for the WORST team in the NBA. They let Marcus Morris drop 36 points on them at home. And, naturally, that game went to overtime, and the Warriors now get to travel on the road to one of the hardest arenas to play in, right....?

It should be noted that the Warriors, once known for their three point shooting prowess, are averaging the second worst three point percentage in the NBA - 32.7% - on the third lowest three point attempts per game. Take that for data.

Game Info

When: Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 • 9:00 PM ET

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT

TV: AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain, NBC Sports Bay Area

Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone, 95.7 The Game

What to watch for

Do you really want to watch this game?

Mike Conley continues to be out, Draymond Green is out on rest, Donovan’s buddy Eric Paschall is out, former-starting-point-guard-on-a-two-way-contract Ky Bowman is debuting in the G-league. This game will be the Jazz versus D’Angelo Russell and Alec Burks isos for roughly 40 minutes (and maybe some Jordan Poole/Glenn Robinson III/Marquese Chriss “action”), and then hopefully some garbage time. Even with Jingling Joe getting more into a good rhythm last game with 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists versus the Wolves, Rudy averaging a nice 18 points per game in December, and Donovan continuing to pop off, I feel like this is a game where I’d rather pass, avoid the bad basketball, and hope the Jazz do their thing.

The thing is - do either of these teams really have an identity? Golden State is nowhere where anybody thought they would be, with injuries derailing the franchise entirely after many years of top-level success. The Jazz tried continuity with their version of defense first, second, and third and didn’t crack into contending, and now are asking themselves who they really are - a trigger happy short-range team, a blender-focused three point threat, a team that does all of the above, well or not well?

I don’t think either team really figures that out tonight. Maybe the Jazz can continue some of what they had Wednesday. Maybe that same lineup will crash and burn like it did versus the Thunder. What’s unfortunate is that I can’t tell you which version of the Jazz will show up.

Ah, the joys of being a sports fan.

Mandatory Highlight

Game Thread Ground Rules

Welcome to the SLC Dunk Game Thread.

Dunkers know how this thing works, but for you lurkers ready to make the jump to Dunker, we have a few guidelines. Remember to follow our community guidelines (no swearing, trolling, excessive use of Jerry Sloan’s name in vain, no personal attacks, no debates about Utah liquor laws, etc.). Remember to have fun. Anyone who dare blasphemes that Tim Duncan was a Power Forward (this means you, Pounding the Rock), Ben Simmons can hit threes, Gordon Hayward should not be booed, Exum Island isn’t a 5-Star resort, Donovan Mitchell is Monta Ellis 2.0, men should never cry, or John Stockton is not the best point guard of all-time will receive an automatic ban. Just kidding. But seriously.