The Utah Jazz travel to play the Phoenix Suns for the second time this month. They will going short handed as they are without Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley for the second straight game, Jazz forward Royce O’Neale is also questionable for this game. It is clear that this is a big game for both teams, but just like the first meeting earlier this month, neither team is viewing this as a game that is going to make or break the season. However, from a fan perspective this game has even more of a playoff feel than when these two teams met on April 7th and that game was already pretty intense.
The Suns recently returned from a five game Eastern Conference road trip with a win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. With the win Phoenix clinched a playoff spot for the first time in 11 years. ”Our players have worked their tails off........they’ve done everything I have asked them to do” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said after the accomplishment.
The Jazz are hoping to figure out how to slow down Chris Paul for the first time in three games, but not many teams have been able to do that this year. The key to this game for the Jazz will be to slow down not only Paul but make sure that they match the Suns physicality and don’t let them get off to a fast start like they did the last game. The Jazz cannot afford to play catch up in a game like this and they have to create some kind of buffer down the stretch of the game so that they can withstand a barrage of Chris Paul midrange jumpers in crunch time. It is all easier said than done but hopefully third time is a charm for the Jazz.
Although this is just one game in a regular season and there is still time after this game for things to change, this is a massively important game for the Jazz to win if they want to have a good chance at the #1 seed this year. Basketball minds might disagree, but I think it is going to be important to have any edge that you can in the playoffs this year and home court advantage could be a big edge......especially with the prospect of fans coming back to arenas at some point during the playoffs.
When: Friday, April 30th, 8PM MDT
Where: Phoenix Suns Arena, Phoenix, AZ
TV: ATT SportsNet
Radio: 97.5 FM/1280 AM
What To Watch For:
After the 49 point win vs the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday, it will be interesting to see if it was because the Jazz figured something out. Obviously the Suns are a much better team than the Kings this year but it is still hard to beat any team by 49 points and it makes you wonder if the Jazz finally re-discovered the swag that they had earlier in the season. If they do have that early season confidence back it will be fun to see how that translates against a really good Suns team.