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Utah Jazz vs. Orlando Magic: Five Things to Watch

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5 things to watch closely in tonight’s game against the Magic. Plus one bonus point!

NBA: Orlando Magic at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Get Well Soon, George

This one is simple; the Utah Jazz have missed George Hill. Hill has been out for the past two games with a sprained right thumb. (Can we remove the fingers of all the Jazz players? They don’t need fingers to play basketball, right?)

His first game out was against the Sixers, in which a big game from Hayward, Hood and Favors propelled the good guys to a win. However, Wednesday’s game against the Hornets was another story. Hill has been playing his best basketball in the fourth quarter, and we definitely needed his strong fourth quarter play against a blazing hot Kemba Walker.

Over Hill’s two game absence, Shelvin Mack shot 6-for-17, with 10 assists. Dante Exum shot 6-for-10, with 5 assists. That’s not quite the production that we were getting from the reigning Western Conference Player of the Week.

Who will be “The Guy” for Orlando tonight?

This is a team who likes to spread their points around. They don’t have a true #1 scoring option, and it has shown so far in the box scores of this season. In eight games, they’ve had four different leading scorers.

Evan Fournier - 3 games

Nikola Vucevic - 2 games

Eric Gordon - 2 games

Jeff Green - 1 game

It’s only a matter of time before Elfrid Payton and Serge Ibaka take their turn as the game’s leading scorer. They don’t like to play favorites in Orlando.

Question for you SLC dunkers: What kind of role would Evan Fournier have if he was on this Jazz team?

Battle of the Bigs

The league has moving toward smaller lineups, but both the Jazz and Magic haven’t fully bought into the small ball fad.

Serge Ibaka, Nikola Vucevic & Bismack Biyombo vs. Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert & Trey Lyles.

Orlando Bigs averaging this season: 30.4 PPG / 20.8 RPG / 3.1 BPG

Utah Bigs averaging this season: 26.7 PPG / 21.9 RPG / 3.9 BPG

Live by the Three, Die by the Three

Overall, the Utah Jazz are 4th in the league in 3-point percentage. We’ve seen the Jazz thrive from behind the line, and the long ball has been a huge factor in our wins this young season. However, the Jazz have struggled staying ahead of teams when the long ball isn’t falling.

3P% during wins - 42.06%

3P% during losses - 33.97%

The Jazz have been getting open behind the arc. It’s just a matter of making shots.

(Re: The Hornets game)

Vucevic’s Reduced Role

NBA fans have come to know Nikola Vucevic as an offensive center who can score in a multitude of ways. He can score with his back to the basket, face up defenders, and play the pick and pop. He averaged over 19 PPG in the 14-15 season, and over 18 PPG last season.

Vucevic has seen his role slightly change this season. The addition of Serge Ibaka, and the offensive emergence of Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon have taken shots away from the talented big man. His attempted shots per game have dropped from 16.1 last season, to 11.8 this season.

For a player who has had success against the Jazz in the past, it will be interesting to see if he continues his trend of lower usage.

Bonus: Friendship :)

Rudy Gobert and his good buddy and french national teammate, Evan Fournier, get to face off against eachother for the first time since last December! These two never stop chirping at eachother!