I hate the Portland Trail Blazers. As a Utah Jazz fan I think I have some legit reasons to feel that way. Maybe I’ll rant about it later. But we’ve got some good stuff today: the NBA Playoffs, previous Playoff games, last night in the NCAA, what’s going on in Orlando, and predict the season ending W/L record for the Utah Jazz!
There are just five left on the schedule, with tonight being one of the biggest of the season. Utah is playing an emotionally hurt, and potentially physically tired Portland team. Portland has been one of the hottest teams in the league over the last little while.
But let’s hope that the Jazz can turn their one game loss into a losing streak!
Including the NBA Playoffs, the Jazz and Blazers have played 210 times, with the good guys winning 109 times. It’s effectively 50/50 if you ask me. In the regular season it’s 97-82 for the Jazz, and a commanding 69-20 at home. However, the Jazz lost at home last season the the Blazers, and 7 times in the last 20 home games.
The main problems for tonight should be Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and momentum. For his career against the Jazz, Lillard averages 23.9 ppg (.470 .411 .871), 6.1 apg, and 4.4 rpg. McCollum hasn’t been great against Utah for as long, but last season he averaged 26.3 ppg (.500 .519 .688), 5.3 apg, and 3.0 rpg in four games.
If George Hill is playing, and playing well, I’d be less worried. The Jazz media notes indicate that his status for tonight is as of yet “To Be Determined”. The gambling websites don’t have any insight either right now. As of right now there’s no Vegas line either. So it’s going to be something we don’t have any clarity over, or security as fans about, until we know Hill’s status.
As for momentum, the Blazers are now 8-2 in their last 10 games. Last month they were averaging 111.3 ppg, and this month so far it’s 119.5. That’s a lot. This is an offensive minded club. And even without Jusuf Nurkic they should be tough.
You know, in theory.
Where Portland has an advantage is at the guard spots. Utah has to press theirs in the middle with Rudy Gobert. Nurkic is out for the rest of the regular season. So is Ed Davis. And so is Festus Ezeli. Among their remaining bigmen, last night Meyers Leonard played 12 minutes, Noah Vonleh played 26, Al-Farouq Aminu played 35, and I guess Mo Harkless is seeing some time at PF? He played 36 minutes last night.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng dropped a combined 42 points, 20 rebounds, but only 2 blocks against ‘em. Flying from Minnesota to Utah, still one time zone out of their comfort zone, it’s going to be interesting to see how well Portland bigs play tonight.
Portland may be forced to go small, like what happened last night with Leonard getting three fouls in 12 minutes. That can be scary for teams that can’t adapt. Quin Snyder has shown us that he can keep Rudy Gobert out there to handle all of the Lilliputians other teams are desperate to throw at him.
Still, it’s going to be a tough match with one team fighting for home court going up against another fighting for their lives.
Last night the North Carolina Tar Heels beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 71-65. The Zags were up by three at halftime, but couldn’t hold onto the lead. Nigel Williams-Goss led his squad with 15 points, but needed 17 shots to do it. He did add 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and hit a three. Josh Perkins added 13, but the North West was soundly defeated by the team from the South East. Joel Berry II had 22 and 6, Justin Jackson dropped 16 and 4, and Isaiah Hicks nearly had a double double with 13 and 9.
UNC won desite shooting only 4/27 from downtown (.148), compared to Gonzaga who was a much crisper 8/19 (.421). So what was the difference? Some people blame the refs.
Others blame the fact that smaller market schools that don’t sell ad space just can’t win. Ever. Which brings us to this.
I didn’t actually watch the game because I knew what the outcome was going to be before the game even started. Call me cynical.
In other news of tragedy, the Orlando Magic dun played themselves. No, for reals.
If you can’t see it clearly enough, in this innocuous photo by the Magic to announce the signing of Patricio Garino they happened to do it right next to their off-season big board. Ooops!
There are lists and lists of players in difference columns, for trades, free agents, and so forth. You can see or partly see 59 different player names there. And some potential strategy, like listing a desire for Dario Saric and potentially getting him via trade for Aaron Gordon.
For a larger view:
There are some pretty Jazzy names on the list, if you cared. Trey Lyles is one. Joe Johnson is possible one as well (listed as J.Johnson here, I’m assuming it’s Joe as James Johnson is listed in another column).
Personally, I love Trey Lyles. And I think he can be a good player - a rotation player - which is the bare minimum you want from a lotto pick in this league. His trade value is very low right now. But I would part with him for Bismack Biyombo and picks. (I know, I’m asking for so little in return.)
For more Orlando reactions, check out my homies over at the Orlando Magic Daily:
Portland is one of my most hated teams ever.
So watch this game with me.
Five Games left, Jazz fans. Predict the final season record:
With 5 games left, how do the Jazz end the season?
This poll is closed
47-35 (Lose all five games)
52-30 (Win all five games)