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.
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.
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.
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 Jazz have outscored their opponents by 9.0 points per 100 possessions when Mike Conley is on the court.— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 4, 2021
They are outscored by 14.7 points when he’s off the court.
That 23.7 net point difference is the biggest by any player in the league this season. pic.twitter.com/yU79yiC0KT
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.
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.
This poll is closed
Jazz win big
Jazz win close one
Pacers win close one
Pacers win big