Earlier today I broke down how the Utah Jazz got from before- Deron Williams to what the team looks like today (full post here). While scouting the Brooklyn Nets (full report here) I couldn't help but notice that while they do have a number of legit NBA bigmen like Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee, I don't think they have a real game changer. There is irony here because we learned that the Nets, when trading for Williams, ended up saying good-bye to three bigs: two as future draft picks, and one as someone they had just picked up last June.
It's hard to fault them for trying to get an All-NBA player to help build their team up. D-Will was their guy that they built around, but as hindsight is 20/20, they just couldn't get over the hump and now this misfit roster of aged players and youthful question marks is looking at the playoffs from the outside, looking in.
Nets Player Averages:
Jazz Player Averages:
I think they have the clear advantage with the guards. D-Will, Joe Johnson, and the rest of their squad, it seems, will be ready to attack our legion of inexperience.
Gordon Hayward is possibly the best player on the floor tonight, and I understand whenever I say that I jinx him. Prove me right, Gordon. Be the best! I like their depth here better as well, though. I really miss Alec. I know you all do too. Rodney Hood has been impressive of late, and limited, but good hearted Elijah Millsap will be willing to muck things up. But I've seen this same Nets team use their wings to beat teams with greater motors before.
While we do have Rudy Gobert, and they do not, this is a lot closer than I'd like to admit. The fear is "what if either Rudy or Derrick get into foul trouble?" And that fear could be a reality tonight. Yikes. The other factor we have to look at is the Derrick Favors revenge game. This is his draft team. It's Deron's draft team too, but his revenge games against Utah have been very lukewarm. Favors can be fire tonight. And I expect he will try to ignite their frontcourt in flames.
- Alec Burks (UTA) -- out for season
- Mirza Teletovic (BKN) -- out for season
- Ian Clark (UTA) -- assigned to the NBA-DL
I'm still going on the Joe Johnson / Gordon Hayward bandwagon here. These guys are excellent players and will not give one another any quarter.
The undercard will be Thaddeus Young against Trevor Booker. These two guys have a lot of experience going up against one another, and their skill sets match-up pretty well. This would be a bad match-up for Enes Kanter. And that's part of the reason why he's not here anymore, but Booker is. Still, you just wonder how Jeremy Evans would have fared in this rotation for Quin Snyder. But that's just me . . . .
Utah's star is rising, while theirs is setting. They are still a talented team that can win on any given night. They aren't any more injured than the Jazz are (no Alec Burks, no Mirza Teletovic). They are at home, and Utah is on the last game of a long road trip.
I can't predict the final outcome, but I can predict that this should be an interesting game. If anything, a bittersweet homecoming for the #3 pick that they moved as a teenager for the chance at being an actual Championship contender. In some way it's flattering that Favors was the principle piece on a home-run attempt by their front office.
On the other hand I am sure he just wants to dunk it all over them tonight.
And I hope he does.