The recent struggles for the Jazz with Rudy Gobert out were well documented. But with Gobert back in the lineup last night they showed that they’re still one of the top teams in the West.
The Lakers have had a tumultuous season and are currently sitting at 8th in the West. In all honestly, their record of 21-22 is better than you’d expect considering all the problems and turmoil they’ve gone through. When you see tweets like this one from Lebron James you know things are bad.
#LakerNation I apologize and I promise we’ll be better!— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 17, 2022
But just because the Lakers are struggling, it doesn’t mean the Jazz can come into this game playing apathetic. They have to set a tone on both ends of the floor. Russell Westbrook is having a dreadful season but has done well against the Jazz’s marshmallow perimeter defense in the past. If Utah wants to get another winstreak started, they’ll have to keep improving their defense on the perimeter. Rudy Gobert can’t do everything.
Another thing to watch in this game is Lebron James’ three point shooting. James is shooting 7.9 threes a game, a career hight by a pretty large margin for him. We’ve also seen James playing center with this team at times and it’s been something that has helped them keep it together while they wait for the return of Anthony Davis from a sprained MCL. For James to be evolving his game this late in his career is pretty impressive and shows just how versatile he is.
For Utah, they’ve seen some versatility of their own, and need to evolve if they want to sniff a chance at the Western Conference Finals. The defense was better against the Nuggets, but the Jazz have to show consistency. The consistency of defense from their perimeter players has been similar to my new year’s resolution of keeping off Oreos. I only had 5 yesterday, okay!
In a desperation game against the Nuggets it was there, but it has to be there night to night. A lot of this season the Jazz have looked like a team that can just coast into the playoffs and it has backfired multiple times. It’s like they thought there was a switch they could flip to turn on the defensive intensity, this season has proved the wiring isn’t set up and that switch isn’t doing anything. Utah needs to prove night after night that they can get stops and win games, otherwise Danny Ainge is going to need to go get some new wiring.
Finally, on a serious note, let’s make sure that we also remember the things that Martin Luther King Jr. taught about equality and fairness. This is not a day to just share the same quote like some sort of holiday tradition, but it’s a chance for us to reflect on where we’ve come up till now, and what we can do to improve going further. Quotes are nice, but actions are better.
When: Jan 17, 2022 - 8:30 PM MT
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angles, CA
TV: NBA TV, ATTSN-RM, SPECSN