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Utah Jazz vs. Portland Trail Blazers Game Preview

Game #31: Trail Blazers (14-20) @ Jazz (13-17)
Location: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)
TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Utah Jazz play their last game of 2015. 2015 was not a bad year. It was not the best year in franchise history; but it was much better than 2013 and 2014 for sure. The team seemed to finally get comfortable playing Quin Snyder's Graduate level course style defense, and the wins started to pile up. Injuries also seemed to have piled up as the team started this season without Dante Exum, and will finish this season without him as well. Right now starting center Rudy Gobert is also out. And in the short term picture, or in the annular 2015 picture, almost all of it was played without offensive maestro Alec Burks. The one gleaming hope for tonight (besides starting it off with a kiss) seems to be that Derrick Favors, who has missed the last few games, may be back.

The team will need him as they face the Portland Trail Blazers tonight. Portland has 14 wins, one more than the Jazz this season, after having their team scuttled in free agency last off-season. LaMarcus Aldridge now plays for the Spurs. Wesley Matthews now plays for the Mavericks. Nicolas Batum now plays for the Hornets. Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo now play for the New York Knicks. Steve Blake now plays for the Pistons. Who's left? Well, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are both there and frankly, just those two guys were enough to put an early season beat down on the Jazz in Utah back in November. Tonight's there's a chance for payback.

It's not going to come easy. Lillard's status is up in the air. He has been out for a bit, but he could play tonight. If he does, well, that's huge. If he doesn't that means the team will still have to deal with McCollum, and Al-Farouq Aminu, Meyers Leonard, Mason Plumlee, Noah Vonleh, Ed Davis, Tim Frazier -- and this Gerald Hernderson guy (who didn't play in the first game of the season series). Portland isn't just going to bow down if Lillard isn't there. Especially not to a Jazz team that's playing without three of their top players in Rudy Gobert, Dante Exum, and Alec Burks. If Favors plays and Lillard does not it will still be a tough game. If Favors is out and Lillard plays it's going to be potentially brutal.

We should know more about their relative statuses around gametime. (Looks at watch . . . waits . . .)

Gordon Hayward better be ready to take over, even if he brings out the best in Aminu (who was taken ahead of him in the 2010 NBA Draft). I'm not going to be watching this game live. Because, well, New Years.