The Utah Jazz host the Sacramento Kings tonight, where both teams will be playing in the second game of a back to back set. The good guys are still without their starting point guard, starting power forward, and most dynamic bench player. Yikes. The Kings are without two guys who aren't exactly game changers. One thing that could play into the Jazz' hand right now is that they are at home, where they are 64-25 all-time against the Kings. Last season Utah was 3-1 against Sacramento, but so far this season Sactown is up 1-0 in the three game head-to-head season. Both small market fanbases want the playoffs this year, but it's likely that only one of them will make it.
Sacramento plays at the fastest pace in the league, and score a ton of points. They average 106.3 ppg (3rd), and have a Top 10 offense, 105.6 ORTG (10th). Of course, on the other side of the ball they are quite bad -- they give up the most points in the league, 108.6 ppg (30th), and have a bad defense, 107.9 DRTG (26th). They are middling on the glass, and hemorrhage the ball a lot on offense. But they work the ball around and make the shots they take. They do take a whole bunch of threes, even DeMarcus hoists up 3.9 a game. He's the straw that stirs their drink and is likely to be an All-Star again this year. However, the real x-factor as to be Rondo, who seems rejuvenated playing under.
Utah, on the other hand, is a defense first team that is very slow. That's Gobert for ya. The Jazz are 14th best in offense, 104.8 ORTG -- but score only 96.1 ppg (27th). No team is slower, but that works out defensively for them where they give up only 96.8 ppg (5th). In a clash of styles we'll see which head coach can keep their troops engaged and on plan. Quin Snyder doesn't have the resume that Karl has, but he's at least in a more stable position as the Kings front office has been failed state-like over the last few seasons.
Ultimately, it comes down to the players and injuries.
Yes, once again Favors is out. And Exum too (which we already knew). If you like stats, the Kings starters get a lot of them. DeMarcus is close to 30 a night, Rudy close to 20, and Rondo is getting a double double and stealing the ball like he is wearing Green again. The Jazz aren't getting much from two of their "starters" this season, but that's what the team did last season as well. It's not really about putting up the big numbers for the Jazz, just making sure that they win. As of right now, the Jazz are winning more than the Kings -- so that's working out despite all the injuries.
The Jazz bench doesn't score much, especially with Alec out, but hey, Jeff blocks a lot of shots! Woo! But depth is a big deal for the Jazz. They just don't have any with Eric Moreland. Omri Casspi has upper back soreness, and has missed the last four games -- though I expect he will play tonight because #reasons. missed the last game and Willie Cauley-Stein has just been activated after being injured earlier this month., , and out. The Kings are fin without and
The Kings, on paper, are a good team. They space the floor well, they have two stars, and score in bunches. They just aren't getting it done on the court. Utah should win, but you never know when it comes to the Jazz against the Kings. Rudy and Jeff vs. DeMarcus and Kosta will be fun though.