Jazz Nation is not in a very happy place right now - it sucks to be on the heels of a losing streak to short-handed teams after the high of such a long winning period. The rotations feel stale, the defense has more holes than swiss cheese, and the offense isn’t clicking. Some individuals are having good games (Conley’s 22 points, Clarkson’s 37, Donovan’s 31 and 36), but it’s feeling like it’s not lifting the team as a whole.
The Nuggets are generally doing well, cooling off the Blazers last night and limiting Damian Lillard to “only” 21 points and 9 assists while putting a 29 point win on them. Torrey Craig (Denver’s Royce O’Neale) hounded Lillard physically (who couldn’t hit his ridiculous logo threes and acrobatic layups as much) and the Nuggets ran away with a 27-10 second quarter to secure an insurmountable 64-38 lead at halftime. They’ve had a ridiculous run of injuries (Paul Millsap, Jamal Murray, Mason Plumlee, Bol Bol, Michael Porter Jr., and now Jerami Grant) and yet managed to stay afloat. While the Nuggets have had some weird losses since the new year (Wizards, Cavaliers, Grizzlies, in OT to the Pistons), they’ve dominated in wins against the Bucks, Clippers, and Jazz. Denver is like Utah, but just better defensively and offensively. This is going to be a very challenging game, even with the entirety of Denver’s power forward position being traded or potentially hobbled by injury.
The upside is that Denver played last night, and they have to come to the raucous Aunt Viv and face a Jazz team that’s had three full days to game plan against them. Here’s hoping the rest did the Jazz some good.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 • 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain, Altitude Sports
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone, Altitude Sports 92.5 FM
What to watch for
Denver’s New Crew
ESPN Sources: 4-team trade agreement: Houston: Robert Covington; Atlanta: Clint Capela and Nene; Minnesota: Malik Beasley, Juancho Hernangomez, Evan Turner, ATL 1st round pick via Nets; Denver: Gerald Green, Houston FRP.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 5, 2020
Minnesota's Keita Bates-Diop is going to Denver in deal, source tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 5, 2020
Sources: Minnesota trading Shabazz Napier to Denver. Nuggets sending Jarred Vanderbilt to Timberwolves. https://t.co/3YpbhniEYP— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 5, 2020
Noah Vonleh also headed to Denver, per sources. This is wild.— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) February 5, 2020
Because of these trades, Denver will likely be short-handed, as they won’t be able to play new acquisitions Green, Bates-Diop, Napier, or Vonleh. As such...
Michael Porter Jr. (if he plays)
Michael Porter Jr. was once projected to be the number one pick in the 2018 draft before back problems caused his draft stock to tumble. A second back surgery in 2018 kept him out his entire first year, so he’s now considered a rookie. He’s really come to life in his last 10 games played for the Nuggets, averaging 14.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 2.2 threes (51.2%) in the backup power forward position. It’s gotten to the point that the Nuggets’ owner has reportedly called MPJ “untouchable” in trade talks. Look for him to as a weapon off the bench - the Jazz will need to be very careful about his athleticism and nose for the ball. He was out versus the Pistons and Blazers, but look for him to be back in the lineup as Denver’s depth is lessened with starter fill-in Jerami Grant also nursing an ankle injury and coach Mike Malone saying MPJ’s injury is “nothing long-term”.
The Trade Deadline
The trade deadline is tomorrow (!!), moved up to prevent players from being traded during the All-Star Break, meaning that this is the last time that Dennis Lindsey and Justin Zanik will see some players before any possible trade. Rumors have come and gone about the Jazz’s involvement around the league, but if the team still looks like it’s in a funk, it might be time to pull the trigger again and look for another mid-season revitalization. The Denver Nuggets pulled the trigger on a huge trade with the Wolves, so watch for signs of the Jazz looking to make a trade as well.
Shoutout to Andrewski18!
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, or John Stockton is not the best point guard of all-time will receive an automatic ban. Just kidding. But seriously.