The Utah Jazz (11-9) will host the Denver Nuggets (7-11) tonight. It will be the second time the Jazz are hosting the Nuggets in Utah this season, and the third of four games between the two teams this season. Yeah, that’s right, the Jazz and Nuggets have already played on November 20th and 23rd. Tonight’s December match here at home will be followed by a January finisher in Denver. Ridiculous how this is scheduled, but the schedule makers felt as thought this would be a match-up against two teams going in opposite directions.
Denver is going with the youth movement, and they have a lot of it. Jamal Murray, Juan Hernangomez, and Malik Beasley are rookies. Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic are in their second year. And Gary Harris, Jusuf Nurkic, and Jarnell Stokes (yes, that Jarnell Stokes) are in their third. For those keeping score at home, that’s an eight piece serving of young Nuggets. Of course, it’s somewhat mitigated by the ancient and over the hill Mike Miller and Jameer Nelson. But still, they are going young.
The perception is that Utah is in win now mode, but they have six players on the roster who are either rookies, second year, or third year players (Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum, Trey Lyles, Raul Neto, and Joel Bolomboy). That’s just two fewer than Denver. But hey, that’s what perception is all about. Heck, Utah even has two really old guys two in Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw.
Frankly, there are probably more similarities than not with these two teams. After all, they are 1-1 so far this season with both teams blowing the other out. It’s been a series where the home team has shown up, so Utah needs to ‘hold serve’ tonight. It’s going to be difficult to do that with all their injuries. But after a while, seriously, you gotta start winning games with the army that you have — not the army that you wish you had.
Sure, Denver will be without starting bigman Nikola Jokic, and probably also without starting guard Gary Harris. That’s two starters. It’s not a pissing contest, but it’s likely that the Jazz will be without three. Once again we’re going to be without Derrick Favors, and George Hill. Shooting guard Rodney Hood is questionable, but c’mon. You know what’s gonna be the call there. Finally, Alec Burks will continue to not be on the court either.
You know what? This is an aside, so just saddle up to the bar and let me tell you a tale. Okay, you know what? I picked up the main writing job here after the most recent NBA Lockout ended. I think our team has been mostly healthy for one season out of all the seasons I’ve been writing here. It’s frustrating for me to keep writing about injuries and excuses. I want wins too. But we can only play the hand that we’ve been dealt. And you have to play it well.
And I guess that’s where Quin Snyder comes into the fold. He’s the fourth Jazz coach in my Jazz fan history. And crazily, he’s the third Jazz head coach since I was the boss of this site. Weird.
Snyder has to find a way to get the guys to win. And really? There are a lot of good guys remaining. Starting off with Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert? Those are franchise corner stones. You can win with those guys leading a team. And tonight they should.
Marquee Match-Up: Gordon Hayward vs. Danilo Gallinari
I wrote something significant here but the internet ate it up. So to be quick, Hayward aspires to be more than just a solid NBA Starter. In a way, that means he has to prove he is head and shoulder above players from that tier. And that means he has to go out there and prove that he’s superior to Danilo. Danny is taller, has a better shot, and has been in this league for longer. He’s not going to just let G-Time splash over him. It’s going to be tough.
Really, someone’s gotta step it up.
I mean: Come on.
I’m talking to you one-way Trey Lyles.