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NBA Preseason: Utah Jazz vs. Portland Trail Blazers

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Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 7:00 PM MT
TV: ROOT Sports
Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Utah Jazz *finally* get to play a home game this preseason. (#44United members stand up) They face off against the Portland Trail Blazers. For me, I consider the Blazers to be one of the team's chief rivals. Sometimes we beat them in the playoffs. Sometimes they beat us. There is a give and take, of sorts. Or at least I don't think it's as lopsided as it actually is. Nevertheless, tonight we'll get to see them at home. And for most #WeAreUtah area Jazz fans, their first peek at this year's Jazz squad.

Utah is 2-1 this preseason, with road wins against the Los Angeles Lakers, and a road loss against the Phoenix Suns. Portland is 1-2 this preseason with two losses to the Sacramento Kings (home and home), and a home win against the Golden State Warriors. During the regular season I would expect these two teams to fight for 2nd place in the division . . . but really, on paper it looks like it's the Jazz who should take command of it by the All-Star break.

Portland still is powered by Damian Lillard, but they've lost a lot of firepower in the off-season. LaMarcus Aldridge left for the San Antonio Spurs. Nicolas Batum went to the Charlotte Bobcats Hornets. And Wesley Matthews went to the Dallas Mavericks. Who is left? Chris Kaman is still there, though ESPN lists him as their third string center now. Sometimes it just be that way for a caveman.

Who is new? Well, from the Hornets they received Gerald Henderson. He projects to be their new starting shooting guard, keeping guys like C.J. McCollum (Don't call me Gollum) and Allen Crabbe on the bench. They did reload their bigmen by adding Mason Plumlee, Ed Davis, and Noah Vonleh to Kaman and Meyers Leonard.

What's particularly cool is that Al-Farouq Aminu is on this team, he was picked a few spots ahead of Gordon Hayward. It's going to be fun to see them go at one another tonight.

Injuries:

  • Damian Lillard (POR) -- ankle injury sustained in practice, will not play tonight even though it's a minor ankle sprain
  • Gerald Henderson (POR) -- had hip surgery
  • Moe Harkless (POR) -- probable for tonight, after going through the NBA's concussion protocol, limited to a maximum of 20 minutes
  • Cliff Alexander (POR) -- confirmed bone bruise in his left knee, out

When considering the injuries, and who will then start, I think the Jazz have some edges to exploit.

Mason Plumlee / Meyers Leonard / Al-Farouq Aminu are worse than Rudy Gobert / Derrick Favors / Gordon Hayward. Furthermore, I don't think C.J. McCollum is better than Alec Burks. While there's a revolving door at point guard for the Jazz this preseason, I really don't know if we have to fear Tim Frazier or Phil Pressey. Of course, since I mentioned it it's clear that one of them will have a career night.

Prediction: I hate Portland. They people over there are weirdos.