The Utah Jazz have already clinched a spot in the 2019 NBA playoffs, which will start in just over two weeks. The Washington Wizards have officially been eliminated from the playoffs by virtue of the Miami Heat winning Thursday night. Does it make this game any less interesting? Not really, you can’t beat Friday night NBA basketball unless you still have a horse in March Madness. The Jazz and the Wizards matchup for the second time in eleven days at Vivint Smart home arena Friday night.
For the Wizards, the season is now in it’s final breath but this is a team with a lot of really good players and they will no doubt be playing with pride. The last time these two teams played, the Jazz were able to slow down Washington star guard Bradley Beal and it will be interesting to see if they can duplicate that kind of defensive effort. It’s hard to play good defense on prolific scorers and if Beal gets hot it could spell trouble for the Jazz.
The Jazz come into this game on a three game win streak, and although they have had a couple of disappointing losses in March, they are playing really well since the All-Star break. Now that their playoff ticket is punched, the remaining games will be about staying focused on getting the highest seed possible and fine tuning their offense to make sure they are hitting the right notes by the time the playoffs start. Although, when these two teams met in Washington a week and a half ago the offense looked just fine with five players in double figures. The Jazz controlled the game from wire to wire and will need to do the same for this game against a Washington team who will no doubt be looking to play spoiler to a team that embarrassed them at home just last week. Every game is still important for the Jazz at this point in order to build the confidence and consistency needed to make a deep playoff run this year. We’ll see how focused they can be now that they have a playoff spot locked up for the third straight year.
It will be a fun Friday night of Jazz basketball either way but let’s hope that the Jazz can keep the momentum going and get the W as they inch closer to the 50 win mark this season.
When: Friday, March 29, 2019 • 7:00 PM MDT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • SLC, UT
TV: AT&T Sportsnet
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
Dante Exum — Torn Patellar Tendon — OUT
Trevor Ariza — Groin— OUT
Dwight Howard — OUT
John Wall — Achilles — OUT
What to watch for
A battle for the last All-NBA guard spot
Donovan Mitchell and Bradley Beal will be among those in contention for the last All-NBA guard spot. Bradley Beal has been on fire since the All-Star break averaging 28.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 1.8 steals in 39 minutes per game. He’s been an absolute beast. Donovan Mitchell had been averaging close to those numbers but a mini slump over the last few games has dropped him to 25.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in 34.3 minutes per game.
However, if you move them both to PER36 you can see that Bradley Beal is stat padding on a bad team as Donovan’s PPG increase to 27 points while Beal’s fall to 26.5. Bradley Beal is the more efficient scorer, though, shooting 61% TS% compared to Donovan’s 56.5%. A strong game by Donovan Mitchell against another potential All-NBA candidate could help Donovan’s resume.