In the second leg of their four-game homestead, the Utah Jazz (34-36) are taking on the scorching hot Sacramento Kings (43-27). With the final 12 games of the season in sight, the Jazz are caught in an awkward place in the standings. As it currently stands, the Jazz are slated to hold the 11th (their own) and 12th (Minnesota) picks, but are only about three games outside of holding a top-7 selection. While the Jazz have likely done all they can to strip the roster down (they currently have four rookies and a recent 10-day contract player in the rotation), they continue to win games they probably shouldn’t. Either way, regardless of where you stand on the tanking spectrum, its hard to not get excited by how well Will Hardy has developed the youth on the roster.
For the Sacramento Kings, they enter tonight having won eight of their last ten games. From an outside perspective, this team has been an incredible story to follow all season. The Beam Team features two incredible All-Stars in De’Aron Fox and Domantas Sabonis and currently sits in the second seed in the Western Conference. For them, games like tonight are also important, given that the Memphis Grizzlies are only half a game behind them in the third seed.
They’ll face a shorthanded Jazz team tonight, with each of Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, and Jordan Clarkson listed as out on the injury report. For the Jazz, this offers an opportunity for surprise 10-day contract signee Jarrell Brantley to get some run. Brantley, after playing with the New Zealand Breakers, has returned to the Jazz for another shot at carving out a role on the roster. He averaged 15.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and 1.5 steals in 26.7 minutes per game during his time with the Breakers and had a pretty impressive post-season run. While I wasn’t too astounded by his previous stint with the Jazz (his defense, while touted as one of his strengths, was statically pretty poor), I wonder if a new coach and new system will better showcase his talents.
The Kings enter tonight as 5-point favorites against the Jazz with the point total set at 239.5.
When: 7:00 PM MST
Where: Vivent Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: ATTSN-RM (AT&T Sports Net-Rocky Mountain)