The Utah Jazz (40-29) play the Washington Wizards (30-40) tonight in the District of Columbia, kicking off a four-game road trip against East Coast cellar dwellers against the Wiz, Knicks, Hawks, and Bulls. With the Jazz coming in riding a three-game winning streak, the Jazz look to hit their stride in the easiest part of their season by far. The Jazz are looking good to stay in the playoffs, but are fighting an uphill battle against the surging Spurs (winners of 8 straight, sixth seed, 0.5 games ahead), perennial challengers the Thunder (fifth seed, 1.5 games ahead) and Blazers (fourth seed, 2 games ahead), and the still-strong Clippers nipping at their heels (8th seed, 0.5 games behind). While Atlanta has seemed to have had the Jazz’s number over the past few seasons (and the Bulls, to some extent), the Jazz have a good matchup against the Wizards, with top players (and owners of huge contracts) John Wall and Dwight Howard out.
The Wizards come into this game in a weird spot: Scott Brooks is driving his players to try to win, but locker room drama, injuries to Wall and Howard, the trade of Otto Porter, and general defensive ineptitude (112.4 DRTG, bottom 5 in league) have led to a highly inconsistent team that will not make the playoffs. Tomas Satoransky is probably their second best player. They come into this matchup with pretty good wins over the Nets, Wolves, Mavs, Kings, Grizzlies, and Magic for six wins in their last ten. Strangely enough, the Wizards are pretty decent at home, with a 22-13 record (Jazz are 23-12); it’s their dreadful 8-27 road that has kept the Wizards squarely in the lottery. This will actually be the first of the teams’ two matchups, with the Wizards visiting again at the end of the month on the 29th. Let’s hope the Jazz bring the momentum from the last few games in and the desire to fight for home court.
When: Monday, March 18, 2019 • 7:00 PM ET
Where: Capital One Arena • Washington, DC
TV: AT&T Sports Net - Rocky Mountain, NBC Sports Washington
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone, 1500 AM
Thabo Sefolosha — Hamstring — Questionable
Dante Exum — Right Knee — OUT indefinitely
Tony Bradley — Knee — OUT
Dwight Howard — Back Injury — OUT indefinitely
John Wall — Heel — OUT for season
Jordan McRae — Sore Achilles — Day-to-day
What to watch for
Bradley Beal has been crushing it this season, putting a strong claim out there for perhaps one of the top three shooting guards in the NBA this season (blasphemy, with Spida on our team, I know). Hear me out, though: he’s leading the league in minutes played at 37.7 per game, started all 70 games that the Wizards have had, top ten in scoring in the league at 26.2 ppg (59% TS). His average in the 35 games since Wall went down (28.9, 60% TS) would be 2nd behind only James Harden, and he’s putting up a fantastic 5.7 rpg, 6.6 apg, and 2.0 spg as well in that time period. Donovan’s last 35 games are not too far behind - 26.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and he was awarded two Western Conference Player of the Week awards. Brad’s had some crazy statlines this season, especially with John Wall out: 46p/6r/7a/1b, 40p/5r/7a/9 threes, 43p/10r/15a/3s/2b/6 threes, 40p/11r/15a/1b, 32p/6r/10a/2s/1b…
Perhaps most impressive is that he’s done this on a team where Tomas Satoransky is now the 2nd best player, and without Otto Porter for the last 16 games (30.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 7.6 apg, 2.1 spg). In his last two games against Memphis and Charlotte (both wins), he had 40 points twice. Though Scott Brooks is driving him to the ground, it’s undeniable how well Bradley Beal is playing right now.
(Credit to Reddit user u/RPDC01 + BBRef for stats/awareness)
Don’t look now, but our lovely Faves has been Hulk-ing it in the Jazz’s current win streak, with two double doubles against Minny and Brooklyn, and a career high-tying 7 assists along with 18 points and 7 rebounds against the Suns, and at least one (highlight) block in each of those games. It’s clear more than ever that Favors is finally healthy and still willing to accept whatever role Quin gives to him, whether that’s terrorizing bench units, running perfect pick-and-rolls with Joe Ingles, or dunking on fools. Favors is part of the top 4 two-man duos in Net Rating on the Jazz since the All-Star Break, with Korver (+19.3), Crowder (+18.9), Ingles (+13.3), and O’Neale (+12.2), respectively, with Faves + Mitchell (+9.1) following up closely at 6th. He’s also a member of the top nine three-man trios in that twelve game time period, with Faves + Korver + Mitch at +38.1 in 41 minutes. This is not to say that Rudy isn’t important to the Jazz’s success, but [somewhat small sample size alert!] a lot of the time where the Jazz make up huge ground is when Faves and some mix of bench players and starters can flat out destroy a bench unit. Look for Faves to continue to do so against the likes of Bobby Portis, Jeff Green, Jabari Parker, and Thomas Robinson.
Go Jazz Go!