For all our pessimism about this team, (okay, MY pessimism) the Utah Jazz are 6-1 in the last seven games. Although there were some shaky moments in last night's tilt with the LoLakers, it was a solid win. Heck, any win without George Hill is a solid win. That said, there's a guy who has taken his game up a notch, and he is none other than our very own Olive Gordon. Let’s start off our "5 things" with him:
1. Gordon Hayward
In the past seven games, Hayward is averaging 26.8 ppg. He has put his team on his back and is playing like an all-star. It doesn't take a genius to make this prediction, but if he keeps this up then the Jazz win tonight.
2. Dante Exum vs. Devin Booker
Mr. Booker is averaging 19.2/2.5/2.7 this season and is a critical part of the Phoenix offense. He has similar dimensions to Exum, so if Dante gets to play then the competition will be fierce.
3. Suns X-Factor: Jared Dudley
During the dark days of the offseason, many Dunkers hoped that this fellow would join the Jazz. He picked the Suns, obviously, and has been serviceable for them, especially considering his age. When he plays well, the Suns play well. I'm including him in this list because he's a traditional Jazz-killer.
4. Pace of Play
Phoenix is first in the league in pace of play, and the Jazz are 30th. Playing on the 2nd night of a back-to-back hasn't been a huge problem for the Jazz, but in order to win this one they're going to have to play at their pace, not the Suns'.
5. Miscellaneous Stat: The 2nd and 4th Quarters
In the 2nd quarter, the Jazz average 22.7 points and are +0.4. In the 4th, they average 27.5 points and are +2. Since they may be playing on tired legs tonight, I will be watching their 2nd quarter point total in hopes that they eclipse their average, as it may be morendifficult than usual to get buckets in the 4th.
Prediction: Jazz 98 Suns 89
The Jazz slow down the pace, Hayward continues his dominance, and the Jazz win on their home floor.