Tonight is the last night of the NBA regular season, and my, how quickly the 2014-15 season has gone! It feels like just yesterday when we were watching the Las Vegas Summer league and ooohing and aaaahing at our potential. Rudy Gobert was just so huge, Dante Exum played defense, and . . . uh . . . Trey Burke didn't look as good as he did to finish the previous season. I guess all of those things happened during the season. We also saw Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors take big steps up, Trevor Booker 's energy made Enes Kanter and Jeremy Evans not very useful. And we ended up using 9 different rookies this season, mainly because of an injury to Alec Burks. That was our season. And it ends tonight. That's kinda sad. Our game tonight is a game that means something for our opponents, the Houston Rockets.
- H-Town can finish #2 in the West if they win tonight (kinda likely), and the Spurs lose (playing the Pelicans, who have had their number this season).
- Houston can't finish #3 because the Clippers won last night.
- They'll snatch up the #5 seed (and a first round date against the injured Trail Blazers) if Houston and San Antonio join LA as last game winners, and the Grizzlies lose.
- If Memphis wins tonight (hosting the Pacers) then Houston defaults to the #6 seed.
Houston needs to win, and will be playing for it tonight. But they will be playing without normative starters Patrick Beverley (PG), and Donatas Motiejunas (PF/C). Jazzkiller bench swarthy guy Kostas Papanikolaou (SF/PF) is questionable for tonight. For the Jazz Alec Burks (SG/PG) is out as per his usual. Gordon Hayward (SF/SG) is doubtful for tonight. Trey Burke (PG) is probable. Hayward, Burke, and Derrick Favors all missed their last game. I wouldn't be surprised to see all three be late scratches tonight as well. While Houston wants this game, Utah isn't crazy about it. Especially because they don't want to tempt fate again with another lotto coin flip, this season it would be against the Phoenix Suns.
SOOOOOOO, who is playing tonight?
It will be good to see Rudy Gobert go up against Dwight Howard, and I believe he would be looking forwards to a match-up like that. I don't know who guards Jason Terry, but I guess we'll see Bryce Cotton get a chance at it. I bet Terry hates it. The major problem when you play Houston, besides James Harden and his ability to get to the line, are threes. It seems like everyone on Houston can make this shot, and earlier this season in Houston they torched us from outside. Trevor Ariza, Corey Brewer, and Josh Smith could be more important than usual as a result.
The Jazz usually have the advantage inside and on the offensive glass. Houston is big enough to make that something we have to fight for.
The problem for Houston is that they will be forced to work for this game too. Utah's defense has been excellent and I don't know the wisdom of having to over-exert Harden before the Playoffs start. If the Jazz wanted to do some Pat Riley stuff tonight, foul hard, and make him work for it -- I don't see why we shouldn't -- he's not going to be happy about that.
Let's not make them happy tonight.