The Utah Jazz take on the best in the west New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night for round 1 of a two-game home set. The Pelicans have “quietly” rattled off 7 straight wins and also won 9 out of their last 10. It’s no surprise that a team headlined by Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are really starting to come together, but New Orleans is a team that has hardly been talked about this year and they are as dangerous as anybody in the Western Conference. Utah has a tall task ahead of them to pick up the win tomorrow night but hopefully they can celebrate the return of Mike Conley, whom the Jazz announced was a full participant in Monday’s team practice.
The first time these two teams met on October 23rd it was a hard-fought, slightly chippy OT win for the Jazz. New Orleans came out of that game with some concern for a hard foul committed on Zion Williamson that prevented him from playing in the 4th quarter. One will never know if Zion playing down the stretch would have made a difference in the outcome of that game, but we can expect Williamson and the rest of the Pelicans to have revenge on their minds. Revenge alone isn’t always enough though….. the key for the Pelicans in this game will be to make sure that they don’t rely too heavily one player such as Zion and make sure to get everybody involved on offense. New Orleans will be without the services of Brandon Ingram in this game but CJ McCollum usually seems pretty hard for the Jazz to handle. If he has a big game, then it usually means that he is getting others involved and if that happens it will be hard for Utah to get enough stops.
The Utah Jazz are trying to avoid another 3 game losing streak and get back in the win column even as they continue to struggle with the injury bug. As of Monday, it is looking like the team might have the services of Mike Conley again for this game but the status of co-star Lauri Markkanen is still unknown and Colin Sexton(nickname Red Bull) is still listed as out. Hopefully the Jazz have some juice after getting two full days of rest before this game, but it is going to take a strong defensive effort to slow down the Pelicans enough to stay in the game. Luckily, that is one of the many surprisingly good things about the Jazz this year, is that they stay in games. I don’t think they have been blown out yet this season. The key for this game for Utah is paint defense and specifically against Pelicans point guard CJ McCollum. If the Jazz can slow down McCollum and Zion from getting a bunch of easy buckets near the hoop, then they give themselves a chance to win a close game.
When these two teams meet it always seems to be a highly entertaining game. Hopefully Tuesday nights game won’t deter too much from what we have seen from these teams in recent years. The difference this year is that the Pelicans are looking like a contender that’s pretty soon will not be able to fly under the radar like they have been. I believe this will be the first time Jazz fans will get to see Zion Williamson in live action so that should be eye opening. It will be fun to see if the Jazz can rebuff this newly formed powerhouse and get a statement win. GO JAZZ!!
When: 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
Radio: 97.5/1280 The Zone