You’ve probably heard it about ad nauseum if you spend too much time on Twitter like I do, but the Utah Jazz (30-31) are in the second game of their five-games-against-two-teams stretch to kick off the post-all-star-game part of the season, with a home-and home against the Spurs before two games in Oklahoma City.
That Jazz team just won an overtime thriller against that very same Oklahoma City squad on Thursday, but this is the stretch of the season that may ‘make or break’ it depending on whether or not you’re rooting for the team to get more ping pong balls or stay in the playoff/play-in contention hunt. The repeated nature of the games could allow the Jazz to focus up against specific matchups and treat it a bit like playoff basketball, or the quality of their opponents (and perhaps some injuries) may cause the Jazz to sleepwalk into a few “unfortunate” losses.
The Spurs (14-46) are competing against the Rockets (13-46) for bottom of the barrel position, so they won’t make it easy for the tank enthusiasts out there - they’re carrying a league-leading 15 game loss streak into Salt Lake City. In spite of this, the Spurs are getting a solid sense of what their future might look like – Malaki Branham is breaking out (17.4 points/3.8 rebounds/3.0 assists in the last 10 games), Keldon Johnson been very solid this season (21.8 points/4.8 rebounds per game), and Zach Collins has been quietly very solid since Jakob Poeltl was traded back to Toronto (15.2 points/9.0 rebounds/4.2 assists since the trade deadline). And, with so many injuries and “injuries” to other young talent, including 2022 9th pick Jeremy Sochan and 2020 11th pick Devin Vassell, the Spurs seem to continue to want to rack up more ping pong balls as the Wemby sweepstakes continue.
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City
TV: ATTSN-RM (AT&T Sports Net-Rocky Mountain), BSSW-SA (Bally Sports Southwest-San Antonio)
Radio: KZNS/KTUB, WOAI/KXTN
Projected Starting Lineups
Utah: G: Talen Horton-Tucker G: Jordan Clarkson F: Lauri Markkanen F: Kelly Olynyk* C: Walker Kessler
San Antonio: G: Devonte’ Graham G: Malaki Branham F: Keldon Johnson F: Keita Bates-Diop C: Zach Collins
*If Olynyk is not available, expect Horton-Tucker to shift to a forward position and Kris Dunn to start, or Ochai Agbai to start at a forward position.
- Kelly Olynyk - Ankle (Day to day)
- Rudy Gay - Nose (Day to day)
- Collin Sexton - Hamstring (re-evaluated Feb. 27)
- Jeremy Sochan - Quadriceps (Day to day)
- Isaiah Roby - Ankle (Day to day)
- Tre Jones - Foot (Day to day)
- Khem Birch - Knee (Day to day)
- Romeo Langford - Groin (Day to day)
- Devin Vassell - Knee (targeting March 2 return)