It’s been two full days since the Utah Jazz were in action. Now with some rest, they get the chance to establish a new home win streak. Win number one came against Oklahoma City on Tuesday, a true win streak can be established today against the Indiana Pacers.
Utah may be short-handed this afternoon as Derrick Favors is doubtful and Jordan Clarkson is probable, but the Pacers likely will be as well. Myles Turner and Doug McDermott are both questionable for today’s game.
Turner has missed five straight games, but surprisingly the Pacers have won four of those contests and are surging toward becoming an above-.500 team and securing a better hold on a playoff spot. They’re in ninth right now but are only a handful of games away from being in seventh.
Utah’s recent results can be spun in two different ways. They’re 3-3 in their last six games but have also won three of their last four. Utah’s spot at the top of the Western Conference is no longer as secure as it was with Phoenix just one game behind and holding the tiebreaker.
When: Friday, April 16th, 2021 at 1 p.m. MST
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City
TV: AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
The Return of Clarkson?
Clarkson being listed as probable gives him a good chance of playing. Getting the primary bench scorer back could be the shot in the arm Utah could need in this matchup.
Who gets the reserve center minutes?
With Favors likely out and Udoka Azubuike unavailable, Utah is suddenly short on good backup centers for Rudy Gobert. A situation like this may very well be why the Jazz decided to sign Ersan Ilyasova. Of the minutes he’s played in Utah so far (a whopping 44), about 72 percent of them have seen Illyasova playing center, which is a bit of a departure from everywhere else. Ilyasova has never had a season where he’s played more at center than at power forward (and it’s usually not even close)
Another option is Juwan Morgan. A little over half his career minutes have been at the five despite standing a relatively short 6-foot-7.
The silver lining to this is that Indiana may also be down a key piece of their center rotation: Miles Turner. This will make the reserve center minutes for Utah a little easier to watch.
Sabonis vs Gobert
If Turner does indeed sit again, Sabonis will stay at the five where he’s been all of Turner’s absence and be Gobert’s primary matchup. Gobert has had some interesting matchups when facing skilled stretch fives. Sabonis hasn’t shot the ball well from deep this season (or last) but did go 2 of 4 from distance against the Jazz earlier this year. Sabonis is also averaging a career-best 6.0 assists per game.
Malcolm Brogdon vs Jazz defense
The Jazz have an unfortunate tendency to let opposing guards go off against them. It doesn’t always lead to losses (see also, Utah’s win over Oklahoma City where they let Luguentz Dort score 42) but it’s frustrating nonetheless. We know they can shut down guys (see also, Utah’s season opener against Portland where they held Damian Lillard to nine points and CJ McCollum to 23 points on 7 of 19 shooting), it’s just a matter of whether the backcourt guys show up to play defense.
I’ll just note here that Brogdon’s career high is 36 points.