Three months ago this game probably looked a lot different then than it does now. But 20 games into the season this matchup is looking a lot more interesting than it did before.
The Utah Jazz they come into this game with one of the most surprising teams in the league. No one would have thought that the Jazz would be one of the playoff contenders in the Western Conference after the trades of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. But here they are with a Most Improved Player candidate in Lauri Markkanen, a rejuvenated Mike Conley, and an evolutionary season for Jordan Clarkson. Not to mention the moves for Kelly Olynyk and Collin Sexton have been solid pickups for the Jazz. All this has led to the Jazz having a winning record and playing a really fun brand of basketball.
Lauri this season:— StatMuse (@statmuse) December 2, 2022
All career highs. pic.twitter.com/Hx7qykcXNx
The Indiana Pacers are also having one of the most surprising seasons in the league. All offseason national media told us they’d trade Myles Turner and Buddy Hield to the Lakers, instead Tyrese Haliburton is having a monster season and Bennedict Mathurin is looking like he’ll contend with Paulo Banchero for Rookie of the Year. Their success likely means that they’ll continue to play with this core and see where they can go rather than wait for picks in the future from LA. Or if they go on a losing streak, maybe they change their minds? A lot might be on the line here.
All this adds up to is a standard game of two good teams that play a fun style of basketball. It does bear mentioning that the Jazz have lost 5 of their last 6 without Mike Conley who is still out with his leg injury. Each night for the Jazz is looking like it has huge consequences for the direction they take. Another loss like this at home in a winnable game might mean Utah looks for opportunities to improve their draft position. A win might mean something else. The question is what the Jazz are hoping to accomplish.
When: 7:00 p.m. MT
Where: Vivint Arena | Salt Lake City, Utah
Radio: 97.5/1280 The Zone