Tonight, the Utah Jazz will look to continue their winning ways as they host the Philadelphia 76ers in a battle of conference leaders. While the 76ers are playing some good basketball and sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with a record of 18-9, they have been nowhere near the level of the Utah’s league dominance.
The Jazz, with a record of 22-5, including seven in a row and 17 out of their last 18, are not just beating teams. Their beating teams handily regardless of where that team is in the standing, with an incredible +/- of +9.3. Jazz aren’t just winning, they’re running through teams.
While the Jazz are on a completely different level this year, they should not take the 76ers lightly. They still have a good coach and a talented group of players. Philly, most definitely, will be looking to upend the Jazz winning ways and make a statement.
When: Monday, February 15th, 2021 • 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivinit Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: AT&T SportsNet - Rocky Mountain
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
Three point shooting
Looking at Philadelphia’s starting roster, you’d think they would be a great 3-point shooting team. After all Tobias Harris (42 %), Danny Green (37 %), Seth Curry (48 %), and Joel Embiid (40 %) are all above average from downtown.
Yet, there are two areas, when it comes to 3-point shooting, where the Jazz stand out in comparison with the Sixers.
First, Utah, even with their recent long distance shooting woes, are banging out threes at a 40 % clip. The 76ers, despite strong shooting from 4/5 of their starting lineup, are only hitting 36% of their three point shots.
Second, and just as important, is volume. Jazz are simply taking and making more threes this season than, well, anyone, including the Sixers. The Jazz take 42 shots from beyond the arc each game, making about 17 of them. The Sixers only take 29 threes a game, good for 28th in the league.
Considering the current trends of the league, the contrast in three point shooting between the Jazz and Sixers is a reflection of coaching. Simply put, in my opinion, it is unacceptable for the Sixers to be 28th in the league in three point attempts. Sixers coach Doc Rivers should absolutely have his team shooting more threes.
On the other hand, Jazz Coach Quinn Snyder has the Jazz taking and making threes at a historic rate. Snyder deserves credit for creating an overall philosophy that continues to spread the floor and produce the most important, effective, and efficient shot in modern basketball.
Battle of the Big Men
Rudy Gobert versus Joel Embiid is always an intriguing, provocative matchup. Embiid is a super talented modern day center that can do a a bit of everything. While Gobert’s offense is always improving, it’s his defense that is out of this world.
Joel Embiid is averaging nearly 30 points and 11 rebounds per game. Gobert is averaging 14 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks per game. To me, it’s work ethic that sets the two big men apart.
Embiid, drafted # 3 overall in 2014, is really, really good. He is one of the most talented big men ever to walk the earth. He can play D, shoot, and handle the ball. He has mostly lived up to all expectations outside of winning in the playoffs. Yet, it sometimes seems as if Embiid feels entitled to success based on his talent.
Gobert, on the other hand, is the very definition of a workforce. Drafted at number 27th in 2013, he was a largely unknown skinny gangly kid from France. Without his incredible work ethic, Rudy Gobert most certainly would have been left to die in NBA obscurity.
Rudy Gobert became the Stifle Tower, he became Gobzilla, he became the 2x NBa Defensive Player ofthe Year because he went out and took what he perceived was his, refusing to take “no” for an answer.
It’s also interesting how offended skilled big men, like Embiid and Shaq, get when Rudy Gobert receives praise. Obviously their egos are shallow, but why so much insecurity when it comes to Gobert.
Last year, Embiid complained about Gobert making his first al-star team. “I agree that Anthony Davis had a better season than me. Jokic? That’s debatable. But Rudy Gobert? No offense, but he (averaged) 15 (points) and 13 (rebounds) and I had my 23 and 12, and that’s kind of a big difference. I think my numbers were better. But people didn’t want to vote for me because our team didn’t do well.”
It’s interesting to me that Gobert took so much heat for shedding tears about not making the all-star team in 2019. Rudy was obviously emotional because he had worked so hard and still came up short on one of his goals. In my opinion, in a more sincere world, the consensus would have praised Gobert for his hard work, dedication, and determination.
It’s comments like Joel Embiid’s, putting another player down to elevate himself, that should be looked down upon. That attitude on the Sixers is not unique to Embiid, though. We are always hearing Ben Simmons preach about how highly he thinks of himself. Defensive player of the year, anyone?
While the Jazz and 76ers have many differences, their concepts of team and self are what really sets the two teams apart. The Jazz buy into a philosophy where it doesn’t matter who gets theirs, as long as they do it together in winning fashion. The Sixers, especially Embiid and Simmons, look to be more in it for themselves.
I keep saying it, but this team is special. Enjoy it. Jazz fans have been waiting around a long time for something of this magnitude to happen. Let’s embrace the movement and remember, in the midst of so much drama in the world, not to take the experience for granted.
Mike Conley is still out. Embiid is listed as day to day, but I fully expect him to suit up and play. Shake Milton is out for the Sixers.
Jazz win again and cover the forever rising point spread. In their last 18 games, the Jazz are 16-1-1 against the spread. That’s pretty crazy when you think about it.
I’ve watched the point spreads continuously rise, in 0.5 point increments, as each Jazz game approaches. This means that almost everyone is putting money on the Jazz. That’s such a strange thought to me: people are not only interested in the Jazz, they’re putting their money on them.
Jazz win 112-86 off a dominating bench performance, three point shooting, and solid D.
If the Jazz continue their winning ways, how will you feel when all those temporary Warrior hats and jerseys turn into bandwagon Jazz hats and jerseys?
This poll is closed
It will be my ultimate pleasure to see Jazz fans (bandwagon or not) everywhere
We will definitely need to start an OG Jazz fan club to provide distinction between real and fake fans
I’m prepared to question and interrogate anyone and everyone I see in Jazz gear on the length of their allegiance (and maybe test them on their Jazz knowledge for good measure)
If they look like a fairweather, I’m snatching that hat and giving it to a needy (real) Jazz fan
Stop bothering me, I’m too busy watching the Jazz (my favorite team forever, btw) win
Close my eyes and continuously whisper to myself that "I was here first!"
Who cares? Go Jazz!