Well, the Utah Jazz’s last game against the Kevin Durant-less Brooklyn Nets was a dumpster fire. Right off of the tip, the Jazz were out hustled, out focused, and simply outplayed. That led to a really disappointing 96-130 result to the game, dropping the Jazz’s record to 4-3. Obviously, while that game wasn’t very fun, the world isn’t collapsing for Utah. The great thing about the NBA is that there are ample opportunities for teams to redeem themselves. Tonight against the New York Knicks (4-3), the Jazz can do just that.
Okay, lets say something kinda dangerous about the Knicks: This season they are...kinda good? I know, I know, it’s really early in the season and a record of 4-3 isn’t really indicative of how good or bad a team is (almost how Utah’s record of 4-3 doesn’t mean anything, at least not yet). BUT, for a Knicks organization that has played at the Jr. Jazz level for the last 7 years, this start is pretty amazing. While their schedule up until now hasn’t been immensely difficult, they have picked up some good wins over the Milwaukee Bucks, Indiana Pacers, and Atlanta Hawks.
Leading the charge for the New York this year is forward Julius Randle. Throughout his career, Randle has had a tendency of putting up pretty decent numbers while not contributing to winning. This season, however, has been pretty surprising. He's putting up 22.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists while shooting 50% from the field and 40% from three! Those numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, as New York’s offensive and defensive ratings are both better with Randle off the court. They are still impressive numbers nonetheless.
Outside of Randle, New York’s supporting cast has been really solid too. Ex-Jazzman Alec Burks is averaging 20.7 points per game, R.J Barrett is averaging 18.3 points per game (albeit inefficiently), and Mitchell Robinson has been a really solid defensive anchor. On top of that, New York’s rookies Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley are showing that they can be rotation NBA players early on in their careers.
In short, this New York Knicks team doesn’t completely stink and the Jazz have to take them seriously.
When: Wednesday, January 6th, 2020- 5:30 PM MDT
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
TV: AT&T Sportsnet - MSG Network
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
Can Rudy have a comeback game against Mitchell Robinson?
Rudy Gobert was run out of the building by Jarret Allen last night. Brooklyn’s afroed big man dropped 19 points and 18 rebounds while repeatedly stuffing weak drives by Rudy at the rim. Rudy recognized this in the post game:
Rudy Gobert said his effort was lacking vs. Jarrett Allen: "He’s a good player, but I started the game soft and gave him confidence — gave him confidence he could do anything he wants, and he pretty much did that."— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) January 6, 2021
That was an embarrassing performance for Gobert. It’s healthy to see that he acknowledged his shortcomings in the game against Brooklyn, but now he’s got to perform against another solid center. Mitchell Robinson has had a great season so far. Aside from masterfully controlling the defensive end for New York this season, he's averaging 8.6 points and 7.4 rebounds. With that said, I’m looking at Rudy to dominate tonight. He’s got every reason to go out there and put up a classic Rudy game and lead the Jazz to a win. Will he do it?
Will the Jazz have 48 minutes of focus?
At some point, it’s going to get old to have some variation of this on the “What to watch for” section. In the past couple seasons, I’ve lost track of how many times the Jazz have come into a game lacking intensity and looking like they expected an easy win. They’ve had the tendency of walking onto the court with the prowess of a repeat contender while performing like a team that’s in the midst of a rebuilding stage. It is so frustrating because we all know what this team can do when it is running on all cylinders. They can be a juggernaut.
In his article last week, Mychal pointed out that this has been a trend with the Jazz in their first 25 games. He’s right, and this season more than others, there are no excuses for the Jazz looking inconsistent and lackadaisical. They’re not young. They have continuity. Their guys got paid big time. If the Jazz want to be competitive, it’s high time for them put on their contender pants and bring a certain level of basketball every night, regardless of their competition.
Todays poll is going to be as simple as it gets:
Will the Jazz Win or Lose tonight?
This poll is closed