The Utah Jazz round out their three game road trip tonight against the suddenly dangerous Portland TrailBlazers. The Jazz are looking to salvage at least something positive from this week in terms of winning. Despite getting the good news on Thursday that the team will be sending two all stars to Chicago later this month, the team is trying to correct a three game slide that has meant a fall from the 2 seed back to the middle of the Western Conference pack.
It’s not that Utah has played terrible in the last three games(except for the game against Houston) but their defense has been alarmingly porous against dribble penetration and not as stout as Jazz fans have been used to seeing over the last 25 games. It will be a tough ask for the Jazz to stop the red hot Damian Lillard who dropped 48 on the Los Angeles Lakers, who also boast a decent defense, last night. Not to mention the fact that it has been announced that Mike Conley will be inserted into the starting lineup for the Jazz for the first time since going out for an extended period of time with a hamstring injury.
The TrailBlazers are not without their flaws and this has certainly not been the season that they had hoped for after making it to the Western Conference Finals last year. But they are currently only two games out of the playoffs in the loss column and primed to make a run at it now that we are in the second half of the season and and Dame is in full supernova mode. The Blazers are always tough to beat at the Moda Center, but they are coming off the emotional win against the Los Angeles Lakers last night and their challenge will be to guard against having a letdown game.
When: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020 • 8:30 PM MT
Where: Moda Center, Portland, OR
TV: AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain | TNT
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for:
Mike Conley starting
Mike Conley has had an up and down(mostly down) season in his first year with the Utah Jazz. I think at this point the pressure may be getting to him a little bit and it looks like he is forcing things when he plays. Even though he hasn’t been playing great lately, I think moving him back into the starting lineup is the right move. I think it’s been hard for him playing with the second unit and we will see a Joe Ingles like improvement over the coming games with him back in the starting lineup. He had started to play pretty well before his injury. Tonight I am not looking for anything on the defensive end, my expectations there are low because Damian Lillard is in a different world right now. But I think it will be very interesting to see whether or not he can settle down a little bit and mesh well with the starters on offense. This game is not going to define the rest of the season but I hope that he can play well so that he can quiet a little bit of the trade Conley chatter that is out there and return some confidence to his game. Some Jazz fans are saying trade him now but I think if he can get back into a rhythm starting tonight we will all be singing a different tune down the stretch of the season.
Just to remind fans that are on the fence about Conley what he can really be when he is not forcing things.
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