Some Utah Jazz fans might be wondering if they missed the second half of the season and playoffs and the NBA skipped right to the offseason with how long it has felt since the Jazz last tipped off. In one of the longer breaks of this season(aside from the upcoming “all-star[snub]” break), the Jazz and their fans have had to deal with persistent trade rumors for just about everyone on the team not named Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert.
Despite players trying to remain professional through it all, it has distract them just a little bit when they see all over social media and online that they might be living in a different city by the end of this week. Now is no time for this team to be distracted as they are currently trying to bounce back from a bad game against the Houston Rockets as they take on the Phoenix Suns.
Although the Suns sit at the bottom of the western conference, they are still an NBA team and with rising stars Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton they can present problems for any team that thinks they going to down easily.
This is the first meeting between these two teams this year and the Suns come into this game with a record of 11-44, which is the second worst record in the NBA. First year head coach and former Jazz top assistant Igor Kokoskov has had some growing pains and some rough moments with players during games but the Suns actually look like a team that is progressing when healthy.
In December they went 5-11 before being hit with the injury bug in January and only winning three games since the start of the new year. Deandre Ayton just returned from a thumb injury and it will be interesting to see if the rookie and top pick in the draft can make things hard for Rudy Gobert in their first head to head matchup.
The Jazz, although they have now lost 2 of their last 3, are still in the thick of the playoff race and with only 28 games to go playoff positioning and winning games that they should win on paper becomes increasingly important. Even with the trade deadline rumors swirling, the team needs to come into this game focused and ready to snuff out any hope that they Suns might have.
Luckily, the team has had a couple of days to recover and hopefully refine a few things before heading down the stretch run of the season. “All-Popularity Contest” Weekend will provide one more extended break later this month but the Jazz can’t afford to let games like this one slip away.
In the end it’s good just to see the Utah Jazz hit the court again. There will be a lot of intrigue about what is happening on Thursday’s trade deadline but let’s enjoy the moment just like the players are trying to do and hopefully also enjoy a Jazz win!
What to watch for
“The Expiring Contracts”
The most interesting storyline going into this game will be to see how Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors respond in what might be their final game in a Utah Jazz uniform. These two players are ultimate professionals and if they do get traded this week it will be hard to see them playing for another team. It’s always intriguing to see how a player responds to these types of situations though.
Fans know that the players are professionals and they understand that this is a part of the business, but they are still human and will likely want to try and prove a point if they feel like they are about to be traded. In Derrick Favors’ case it will be weird to see the longest tenured Jazzman move on but if this is his last game, now seems like a good time to reminisce on all the good times we fans have been privileged to witness: