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Utah Jazz vs. Orlando Magic Game Preview

Game #17: Magic (10-8) @ Jazz (8-8)
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)
TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz play their first game post the sad news about Rudy Gobert. He will miss his third game of this season, and before he returns, he will have missed many more. Still, Gobert has intoned that he is in good spirits and trusts that his teammates will take care of business during his absence. If that is to be the case the Jazz will have to start tonight, when they host the Orlando Magic. Orlando is big, talented, and they have more wins than the Jazz. In fact, they have one against the Jazz from earlier this season. (One of the previous two games Rudy had missed.) I guess you can say they are lucky. What you can't say is that they're always lucky, after all Trey Burke's two best games of his life (hyperbole) seemed to happen against them. Jokes aside, the Jazz and Magic split the season series last year, and if they were to do so again this year Utah will have to win.

Winning at home shouldn't be a problem, yet it seems like it has been this year. The architects of the Delta Center must be rolling over in their cement mixers at the thought. Utah is only 3-3 at home, wait, is that right? It's December and they've only played six home games? Okay, well, the point stands. Utah needs to do better than go .500 at home, and part of that means having to beat East teams when they come to visit.

Orlando is on a four game win streak (beating the Knicks, Bucks, Celtics, and Timberwolves), and are in game two of a five game trip out West. They are playing at a high level right now and are not going to be a push over. Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, and Tobias Harris comprise a great group of slashers and shooters from each of the first four positions. Nikola Vucevic is a throwback big who has hurt us before. Their bench has talent in Mario Hezonja, Shabazz napier, Jason Smith, Andrew Nicholson, C.J. Watson, and Dewayne Dedmon. But the biggest threat will be Channing Frye.

The Magic have the types of players who can really hurt us, and playing without Rudy may force Quin Snyder to go to more dynamic lineups in response. No Dante Exum, no Rudy Gobert . . . but I can imagine we'll see a steady diet of a new "Wing-T" that has Derrick Favors in the middle, and perhaps another wing player . . . Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Gordon Hayward, and Joe Ingles? Against some lineups I wouldn't mind seeing this.

This preview is short because I am bad at planning.