The Utah Jazz (43-30) play the Phoenix Suns (17-57) tonight in the good old Aunt Viv, kicking off a nice home stand after their romp through the lower rungs of the Eastern Conference. The Suns on the other hand are on a three-game skid, with only one win since they last faced the Jazz less than two weeks ago - a 138-136 OT win over the Pelicans (who played Anthony Davis 22 minutes). In their previous two matchups, the Jazz handled the woeful Suns easily, scoring 116-88 and 114-97 wins.
This really shouldn’t be too hard of a game, but the Jazz need this to keep afloat in the Western Conference (how are the Clippers still in the running - currently as the 5th seed?). Surprisingly, this is not the last game against Phoenix this season - the Jazz play them again on April 4th. The Jazz need all they can get to keep up the fight for optimal playoff seeding.
When: Monday, March 18, 2019 • 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena
TV: AT&T Sports Net - Rocky Mountain,
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone,
Dante Exum — Right Knee — OUT indefinitely
Tony Bradley — Knee — OUT
TJ Warren — Right Ankle Soreness — Day to day (Unlikely)
John Jackson — Sprained Ankle — Questionable
Tyler Johnson — Knee — OUT
Kelly Oubre — Thumb Surgery — OUT for season
What to watch for
Per Zach Lowe, Devin Booker is pretty much the only thing separating Phoenix’s offense from G League-level production (107.3 ORTF on vs 97.6 ORTG off). He’s so good - and the rest of Phoenix so bad - that the Suns with Deandre Ayton, probably Phoenix’s second-best offensive player (over the whole season), have scored 92.8 points per 100 possessions when he plays without Booker, per NBA.com. That’s 12 points below New York’s league-worst offense. Devin Booker was the one who went nuclear to win each of the Suns’ last three games - 40 points, 13 assists, 5 rebounds against the Pelicans, 37 points, 11 assists, 8 rebounds against the Warriors, and 41 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds, against the Knicks.
With the recently acquired Kelly Oubre out with thumb surgery and Tyler Johnson out with a knee injury, the Jazz really just need on focusing on shutting down Devin Booker and minimizing DeAndre Ayton. This is not the team that beat the Warriors - Oubre, Johnson, and Josh Jackson contributed greatly to that win - but the Jazz shouldn’t automatically pencil in a win. Come out as they did against Chicago, establish dominance early, and get rest for our starters in preparation for the grueling playoffs.
Name another more mentioned-duo: Jimmer Fredette and the Utah Jazz. Jimmer is suiting up for the opposing team, though, after romping his way through the Chinese Basketball Association for the last three and a half seasons, averaging over 36 points this past season in China. In his first game back, in the Suns’ loss to the Kings, he took two shots (one was waved off, the other missed) and grabbed two rebounds in four minutes of action. Suffice it to say he probably won’t ever live up to the hype he once had, but it says a lot when one of the worst teams in the league is only signing you for point guard depth. Props to him for being willing to come over and try again to crack the NBA. With that said, enjoy this grainy old highlight reel:
Go Jazz Go!