The Utah Jazz and their newly minted All-Star duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert return back to the team where it all started: The Denver Nuggets. What serendipity it is to see them play the team that looked them over and literally traded away peanuts for them. While I’m sure cash considerations made the interns happy in 2013, the Denver Nuggets would love to have a defensive monster of Rudy Gobert paired with a Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets didn’t even get to enjoy any part of the deal for Donovan Mitchell. Trey Lyles now plays in San Antonio and Denver could only dream of a playmaking guard on the perimeter that could pair with Jamal Murray and the Joker.
The Jazz come into this game a bit in the dumps. They have been exposed by two straight teams defensively as those teams have mocked Utah by playing guards or small forwards at the center spot. That type of lineup has made a mockery of Rudy Gobert and turned the Utah Jazz perimeter defense into swiss cheese. Hopefully the humble ride from San Antonio and the return to mountain air gives the Jazz the wakeup call the need to snap out of that funk.
The Denver Nuggets have a lot to gain by beating Utah other than a respectable win over a playoff team. Utah most likely will be pretty close if not tied in the standings with them if the last two season are any indication. Every win matters, especially divisional and conference. Those tie breakers are better than gold in April.
When: Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 • 8:30 PM MT
Where: Pepsi, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain | TNT
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
The Stifle Tower vs The Joker
Get ready for some big man theatre because we’re going to see a four act show tonight. This is Gobzilla vs Thiccdorah. Two heavy weights doing battle in the paint and, due to Jokic’s playmaking, on the perimeter. Let them fight.
Jokic is averaging 19.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 6.5 assists. He’s shooting 50.7% from the field and making 32.4% of his threes. He’s a Sabonis in his prime only without the name or Pacer uniform. Rudy has been embarrassed by playmaking fives the past 3 games and this is a chance to make things right against the type of player people assume are his kryptonite. Gobert can put down his Lex Luther, but that also depends on another big improvement.
WHAT THE **** HAPPENED TO PERIMETER DEFENSE???
Remember the days of Utah punishing opposing offenses? Putting their lambo boutique schemes in a ditch? Not so much the past few games. Teams literally are throwing a small forward at the five as if they are trolling AND THEY ARE WINNING while doing it. Utah’s four of Mitchell, Royce O’Neale, Joe Ingles, and Bojan Bogdanovic have to show more pride on the perimeter. If Rudy Gobert is getting pulled out from the paint they have to stop using him like he’s daddy’s credit card at college. Against stretch fives, Gobert is maxed out and he can’t offer an additional line of credit. These guys gotta fend for themselves out there and take more responsibility on that end of the ball.
Game Thread Ground Rules
Welcome to the SLC Dunk Game Thread.
Dunkers know how this thing works, but for you lurkers ready to make the jump to Dunker, we have a few guidelines. Remember to follow our community guidelines (no swearing, trolling, excessive use of Jerry Sloan’s name in vain, no personal attacks, no debates about Utah liquor laws, etc.). Remember to have fun. Anyone who dare blasphemes that Tim Duncan was a Power Forward (this means you, Pounding the Rock), Ben Simmons can hit threes, Gordon Hayward should not be booed, Donovan Mitchell is Monta Ellis 2.0, men should never cry, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert do not deserve to be All-Stars or John Stockton is not the best point guard of all-time will receive an automatic ban. Just kidding. But seriously.