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NBA Preseason 2015: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz - Game Preview

Time to even the score!

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The mighty Utah Jazz continue on with their preseason 2015-16 action with a return to the courts tonight. Jazz fans, observers, and players would like to see a return to form as well! After starting things off with a pair of impressive wins against the Los Angeles Lakers the team has floundered in non-competitive games against the Phoenix Suns and Portland Trail Blazers. The 2-2 Jazz will look to go 3-1 on the road with a win tonight against those same Portland Trail Blazers who spoiled their preseason home opener.

Both teams have two wins and two losses, but this game is going to be a rather uphill one for Utah. All-star point guard Damian Lillard, who missed the previous game with a left ankle injury, has vowed to play in this one. On the flip side, the Jazz will be without Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, and Dante Exum -- four of the five starters from the previous season!

Of course, Hayward is out with his low back contusion, and Exum is out with his ACL injury rehab right now; but Favors and Gobert will be out only for rest. Which is fine. Even after making the cuts to say goodbye to forwards Jack Cooley, Grant Jerrett, and J.J. O'Brien the team still has a lot of bigmen and more decisions to make. Utah has a 17 man roster right now and needs to make a minimum of two more cuts. I had expected that the long break between games would have given General Manager Dennis Lindsey and team enough time to figure out who to let go -- but that has not been the case.

Thus the rest for these three primary players isn't unexpected. It will trickle down for more run inside for Jeff Withey, Tibor Pleiss, Trey Lyles, Trevor Booker, Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, and perhaps Treveon Graham. Withey and Graham haven't made the team yet and they are up in the next series of cuts with Chris Johnson, Elijah Millsap, and Bryce Cotton. Those five players will have to keep impressing Quin Synder and the rest of the coaching staff if they are going to stay on with the team for much longer. Millsap probably isn't at risk as he has played the 7th most minutes on this team in the preseason. Withey (34.2 total mins), Johnson (20.1), Cotton (17.4), and Graham (1.6) are all among the least used players though.

The Blazers will also be playing with some players having something to prove. Gerald Henderson and Cliff Alexander will also miss tonight's game, leaving more room for Al-Farouq Aminu, Moe Harkless, Allen Crabbe, and potential starter C.J. McCollum. In the last meeting of these two teams McCollum gave the Jazz all they could handle: 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. If our guys fail to stop him again Lillard may just as well take the night off.

Lastly, this paragraph exists to make sure that this preview is at least 500 words long.