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Jazz travel to Indiana for a Sunday morning battle

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The most brutal stretch of the Jazz schedule begins today against the Pacers

Utah Jazz v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

The Utah Jazz (18-5) come into today’s game winners of 14 out of the last 15 games. During this stretch, the Jazz have blown out just about everybody they’ve come across outside of the Nuggets. Utah is coming off another big win, this one in Charlotte. The Jazz once again set a franchise record for three pointers in a game, and they’ll look to continue their dominant shooting from the perimeter.

Utah Jazz v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers (12-11) are coming off two disappointing losses, one a blowout at the hand of the Milwaukee Bucks, and the other a heartbreaker lost in the final minute to the Pelicans. Indiana will be looking to get back on track today. They’re holding onto the fifth spot in the East, but they want to climb up into homecourt advantage, and every game counts.

New Orleans Pelicans v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Both teams are missing key players. During Utah’s previous game, Mike Conley left early due to hamstring tightness, and he has been ruled out of today’s game. Hamstring tightness was the same injury Mike struggled with through much of last season, although that was on his other leg. Hopefully this is minor and won’t affect him too much. At this point though, little is known of the injury’s severity. For Indiana, both TJ Warren, and newly acquired Caris LeVert are out, as they have been for quite some time. Both are highly talented wing scorers and playmakers, but the Pacers have made do without them all year, so this is a fairly normal rotation for them.


Game Info

When: Sunday, February 7th, 2021 11:00 AM MST (1:00 PM ET)

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

TV: AT&T SportsNet, FSIND

Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone, WFNI-FM/AM


Projected Starting Lineups

UTAH: G: Donovan Mitchell F: Joe Ingles F: Bojan Bogdanovic F: Royce O’Neale C: Rudy Gobert

IND: G: Malcolm Brogdon G: Jeremy Lamb F: Justin Holiday F: Domantas Sabonis C: Myles Turner

What to watch for

How do the Jazz handle playing without Mike Conley?

Mike Conley has been spectacular for the Jazz all season long. The Jazz as a whole have been very good, and for the most part, they’ve been able to be good no matter who’s on the court. The exception, is the minutes without Mike Conley. With Mike on the court, Utah has been elite. When he sits, things don’t go so well.

The weight of Conley’s absence will fall primarily on the shoulders of Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz will rely on him to be able to control the offense as a point guard. Joe Ingles will also take a lot of the ball handling duty. If those two have strong floor games, Utah should be able to compensate for the loss of Mike Conley, but that won’t be an easy thing to do. The way the team handles the absence of Conley will be very telling, and will likely determine the outcome of this game.

Can the Jazz keep Sabonis in check?

Domantas Sabonis is an elite player in the NBA. He may not be the same level of “household name” as a lot of other guys, but don’t be fooled. Sabonis is an absolute beast.

Sabonis is a skilled scorer from all three levels, a dynamic rebounder, and a very talented passer. He’ll be a tough guard for Utah, but if anybody is equipped to guard an All-Star big man, it’s Rudy Gobert. Rudy will have his hands full with the frontcourt tandem of Sabonis and Turner. His ability to make the game difficult for them may be the key to this game.

Three point strategies

The Jazz air-raid style of basketball has been one of the main keys to their success. The Jazz lead the league in three pointers made per game, and three pointers attempted per game. They’re second in the league in three point percentage. They have six rotation players shooting above 39% from beyond the arc. So far, they’ve been a historically great shooting team. No doubt, Utah will be looking to continue those trends vs the Pacers. This will be a big key to the game.

Indiana’s defensive strategy involves pushing teams off of the three point line. Their opponents shoot only 32.5 attempts per game from three. That’s good for the sixth lowest mark in the league. While that’s the case, it should also be mentioned that Indiana’s opponents shoot a league high percentage from three, at 39.7%. Is that just hot shooting against them, or is it indicative of a weakness in their defense? It may be too early to tell. Either way, the Jazz will need to stick to their game plan and punish the pacers from the perimeter. If they can do that, the rest of the game opens up.

Utah Jazz v Charlotte Hornets Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images

This will be the first game of a really really tough stretch of Utah’s schedule. Getting off on the right foot would be a very positive sign. Playing without one of their leaders could show us just how strong and resilient this team can be. Let’s go Jazz.

Poll

Predictions:

This poll is closed

  • 24%
    Jazz win big
    (63 votes)
  • 60%
    Jazz win close one
    (153 votes)
  • 12%
    Pacers win close one
    (32 votes)
  • 2%
    Pacers win big
    (7 votes)
255 votes total Vote Now