We've been tracking this match-up for a while, and tonight the Utah Jazz get a chance to take down the Phoenix Suns tonight. I still hold out hope that the Jazz can catch the Suns, but it's going to be really tough.
It will be nearly impossible if the Jazz don't win tonight. We know a few things about this match-up, though.
- We know that the Jazz don't usually win games on the Suns home court.
- We know that the Jazz have been beasts on defense, but not sweating the small stuff on offense has kept other teams in games. Utah has had trouble putting teams away.
- And in the last 10 games, it's pretty apparent that Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris are doing everything they can to get this team some wins, but they've still lost five games in a row.
Yes, the Jazz are only 24-59 in Phoenix, and this season the two teams are 1-1. Utah won the first game 118-91 back in November, as Derrick Favors beasted with 32 points, while Gordon Hayward added 24 and 10. It was a complete blowout with lots of points in the paint and in transition; and man our team looked good back when Alec Burks was playing. The second game had the Suns winning 100-93, as Marcus Morris busted out for 34 points off the bench. As a team Phoenix shot the lots out, 51.9 3PT%. Which is more unlikely, that the Jazz get transition points or the Suns don't miss?
I don't know. But tonight is the rubber match between these two groups. For me the question is going to be about how good will Utah's offense be, and how good will Phoenix's defense be. If the Jazz can get the boards and control the pace, Phoenix will have to be in the pressure cooker. If the Suns get the turn overs and offensive rebounds their pace of play can have them run past the Jazz.
Personally the Jeff Hornacek vs Quin Snyder battle is going to be fun to see. Jeff knows many of our players pretty well, and that should help him find an edge, especially since his team is built to go small and by going small he can initiate sets where the Jazz can't possibly defend the rim as effectively as they can against a team like Memphis or Indiana. One of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert is going to have to be drawn out and try to match up against someone like Markieff Morris, Marcus Morris, or Brandon Wright.
Phoenix also has a huge advantage at point guard with Eric Bledsoe (and possibly also Brandon Knight off the bench) over Dante Exum and Trey Burke. With how Rodney Hood and Joe Ingles are shooting right now I think that we can match up against their wings. P.J. Tucker is a handful, and Marcus Thornton (if he plays) and Gerald Green are Jazz killers -- but none of them are as good as Gordon Hayward is right now. Elijah Millsap also is a change up wing who can get to the line, defend, and hit open shots.
Suns last 10 games: 4-6
Will Phoenix's advantage at point guard, and with their speed be able to overcome the Jazz' inside presence? I guess that's going to determine who wins and who loses.
Injuries / Absences:
Not with team: --
Assigned to NBADL: Grant Jerrett (UTA)
Out: Danny Granger (PHX), Alec Burks (UTA), Brandon Knight (PHX), Alex Len (PHX)
Doubtful: Marcus Thornton (PHX)
Game time decision: --
Good to go: Rodney Hood (UTA) (I guess? NBA return to participation exertion protocol after a concussion)
I could write more, but It's not going to happen.