Coming off an oddly disappointing loss against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Utah Jazz look to get back on track versus the Denver Nuggets tonight. Having won two of the prior three meetings, the season series is on the line. More importantly, however, is that playoff seeding could be on the line.
The most likely scenario is the 5th seed against the Portland Trailblazers right now. However, some unfortunate circumstances like losing both of the remaining games could push the Jazz to 6th and match them up against the Houston Rockets. No thank you. The other milestone up for grabs this evening is 50 wins on the season. While that’s somewhat arbitrary, it is still a significant benchmark. One that Utah has only accomplished once since 2010.
Tonight’s game should be... Interesting. Each team will be missing five regular rotation players with a sixth listed as questionable. For the Jazz, their playoff position is almost locked in. Anything other than a first-round date with the Portland Trail Blazers would be an upset at this point. Further taxing players with nicks and dings would be more trouble than it’s worth. This game still means something, though, because home court advantage could still be up for grabs in that potential series.
For the Lakers, they’ve just shut a lot of guys down because, why not? Despite that, they’re actually 5-3 in their last eight games. With the players the Jazz are sitting, this probably won’t be a cake walk.
When: Tuesday, April 9, 2019 • 7:00 PM MDT
Where: Vivint SmartHome Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
Dante Exum — Torn patellar tendon — OUT
Derrick Favors — Back — PROBABLE
Kyle Korver — Knee — OUT
Ricky Rubio — Quad — OUT
Raul Neto — Ankle — OUT
Michael Porter Jr. — Back — OUT
Seemingly the rest of the roster last game - QUESTIONABLE
What to watch for
Will Derrick Favors remind everyone of his importance?
Favors has had a career year in 2018-2019. He’s been healthy for the first time in years and been vital to Utah’s success this season. Unfortunately he has missed the past 4 games with some back issues. The Jazz were fine until the game against the Lakers, where there just wasn’t enough fire or passion to overcome a G League roster.
With Favs likely to play again tonight, I expect different results than Sunday evening. I look forward to those baseline cuts and slams as well as the ever-so-effective Ingles-Favors pick and roll.
How motivated will the Nuggets be?
The Nuggets are apparently very content with placing 2nd or 4th in the Western Conference and shifted their focus towards the playoffs. They act like a team that’s been there and done that and just want the postseason to start. Except that they haven’t really been there nor done that.
Denver is 5-5 in their last 10 games and decided to rest a bunch of guys against the Blazers on Sunday. Which all but killed Utah’s chances of climbing to the 4th seed. I have a feeling they’ll be out to prove something against the Jazz tonight based on how heated the last couple meetings between the two sides went. But it also wouldn’t shock me if they called it a night early. Maybe they are vying to play a particular team in the first round? I don't know, but they aren’t exactly peaking at the right time as the season nears its end.