In what has been an up and down season for the Utah Jazz, they’ll look to build on a nice win against the Milwaukee Bucks when they take on the Detroit Pistons.
The Jazz have been a bit of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde from game to game wothout a lot of explanation for why. What’s strange is the wins and losses. The Jazz have losses against the Knicks, the Wolves and lost to a Nets team without Kevin Durant. They have dominant wins against the Clippers, the Spurs and, like we mentioned, the Bucks.
What version of the Jazz will we see?
When: Sunday, January 10th, 2021 - 1:00 PM MDT
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
TV: AT&T Sportsnet - Fox Sports Detroit
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
Can the Jazz stop Jerami Grant?
Detroit’s biggest splash this offseason was signing Jerami Grant. Just seeing his name as I type this is giving me shivers thinking about how he killed the Jazz with the Denver Nuggets last playoffs. With Denver he’s taking on a much bigger role and is averaging 24 points and 6 assists while shooting 36% from three. At some point you have to consider him for an all star bid.
Likely it will be Royce O’Neale who will get the bulk of his minutes on the floor to guard Grant. But does he have the size necessary? The other option with the starting unit would be Bojan Bogdanovic but that isn’t likely to end well.
And so the biggest matchup this game is O’Neale and Grant. O’Neale has stepped up his rebounding this season in a big way. Right now he’s averaging 8 rebounds per game and they’ll need him to play big this game if they want a chance to slow down Grant.
Can the Jazz keep up their offensive output?
Against the Bucks, Utah shot 47% as a team from three. Utah isn’t likely to put up those numbers again, but Utah is one of the best three point shooting teams in the league and so they have to get as many threes up as possible. It’s the thing that will open up everything for the Jazz.
But those threes don’t go up if the Jazz aren’t moving the ball. Probably the most important person in terms of moving the ball is Donovan Mitchell. This season, in Jazz wins, Mitchell averages 6.2 assists. In losses? 4.
Mitchell has had a slow start this season but a lot of it has been self inflicted. To start the year it was clear Mitchell was pressing to reproduce what we saw in the Denver series. But as he has started moving the ball more it has opened everything up for the offense to flow better. We already know that Mitchell is one of the best spot-up shooters in the NBA. The pull-up three was there for him in the playoffs but it hasn’t quite been there this season yet. This isn’t to say that Mitchell shouldn’t be taking pull up threes but it’s clear at this point that Mitchell is best served to be relentlessly driving to the basket and kicking it out to other shooters when the defense closes on him. It creates open shots.
And that’s where Mitchell needs to feast is driving to the rim and ether looking to draw a foul/score, lob it to Gobert, or kick it out to three point shooters. The better he gets at that the more the Jazz offense will sing.