The Utah Jazz finish the season with four games in five nights -- all against Western Conference teams that for the most part still give a hoot. In game one the Jazz fell at home to the Memphis Grizzlies 89-88 in a defensive battle that nearly went to Overtime. In game two, the very next night, the Jazz defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in their own gym. Both teams were without some of their best players, but on that night no one was better than Trevor Booker who had a career night. Game three of this four game 'Jazz final exam' is tonight, hosting the Dallas Mavericks. (Game four will be tomorrow at the Houston Rockets).
Utah hosts Dallas on what looks to be Jazz Fan Appreciation night. (You know, the one where a player addresses the crowd and then drops the mic.) The Jazz are playing their first game in a back-to-back set, and the 3rd game in four nights. They have rested Trey Burke quite a bit (missed 3 of 4 last week), and both Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward got a night off on Saturday. The Mavs are playing their second night of a back-to-back set, and their 3rd game in four nights as well. However, a few guys got some rest for them yesterday (namely Devin Harris and Amar'e Stoudemire). Tonight they will continue being out with an actually injured Chandler Parsons, and starters Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler are scheduled for rest tonight.
That's missing four of their five normative starters in a game that doesn't mean anything for them -- they are locked in at #7 in the West and will play whomever wins the South West Division (it's still up in the air between the San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies, and Houston Rockets). Utah doesn't have much to play for either, as ping pong balls probably mean more than a win on fan night (in the big picture). In the small picture a win on fan night is awesome, especially because it will be the last game for head athletic trainer Gary Briggs' multi-decade NBA career. (18 in Cleveland, 15 in Utah) As for our injuries, Alec Burks remains out.
Trey Burke is probable, and Gordon Hayward is questionable. All three guys who missed the last game, Gordon, Derrick, Trey, will miss tonight's game as well. (This is new update from the beat writers.)
So who is left?
Dallas has a lot of size, but I don't know if Amar'e Stoudemire is going to relish playing a lot of minutes tonight against
Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Trevor Booker, Jeremy Evans, or Jack Cooley. We may see more and more of their no-name dudes like Bernard James, Dwight Powell (Go CANADA!), and Greg Smith. I don't think we have the horses at PG to make life hard for Rajon Rondo, Harris, or J.J. Barea. And if Gordon doesn't play, it's kind of a wash at the wings. There really should be no excuse for a loss tonight. You don't want to get swept by Dallas. And not on fan night!