Ten years ago, the Utah Jazz brought in a new decade in a game against the Denver Nuggets. Deron Williams started alongside Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur, with Andrei Kirilenko coming off the bench. They were 18-14 starting off the new year, but dropped to 18-15 after losing in Denver to the likes of Ty Lawson, Kenyon Marton, Nene Hilario, Arron Afflalo and J.R. Smith.
This year, the Jazz will be pulling into Chicago with the next generation of Jazz stars. Donovan, Rudy, Bojan, Royce, Jinglin’ Joe, and Jordan Clarkson have collectively shown the sparks of greatness. It took us nearly a decade from the D-Will trade to finally “re-tool” in such a way that made us true contenders. At least, that is what we are on paper. This team needs to continue to show that they can take care of business each and every night on the floor. The front office put this talented group together, coach Quin Snyder has brought the young players up in the ways of the dark side of the force (aka. defense), now the players are showing that they can hang with the best out there. From the LA Clippers to the Milwaukee Bucks, nobody is safe.
When: Thursday, January 2, 2020
Where: United Center • Chicago, IL
TV: AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for:
1st Quarter Play
Contenders can put away worse teams early on and ride that momentum to the very end. Chicago is the 9th seed in the East, and in the past decade this may have been labeled as a “trap game”. The team just had New Year celebrations, a small break, and now they face a team that is boasting a 13-21 record. It is easy to look at this game as a gimme, and it may well be one. But you have to earn every W in the NBA. If the players want an easier night, they have to put the Bulls far enough down by the second quarter at the latest. Otherwise you risk letting a worse team stealing a game from you. If the Jazz are a contender, they need to learn to put these worse teams away early.
If the Jazz can get off to a 15+ point lead early on, the bench will likely get more run. We will get to see how Jordan Clarkson has been progressing in learning the system. Emmanuel Mudiay is looking more and more like he’s figuring out his role and what this team needs of him. Georges Niang is a great shooter and brings energy to the floor. We may get to see some more Tony Bradley and Rayjon Tucker tonight as well. Getting our bench some significant minutes should be another goal for tonight. To contend for a title, the second group needs to be cohesive, and the best way to become cohesive is to get a little extra time on the floor together.
Quin Snyder is a master of maximizing the production of his role players, and it will be very interesting to see what he can do with this new-look bench.
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