The Utah Jazz finish off their week today with their second game in a back-to-back set, third game in four nights, and fourth game of the week. It's against the Phoenix Suns on the road, and as far as schedule losses go, the injuries for both teams really skew this game in one team's favor. And that team is the Utah Jazz. Sure, the Jazz are playing somewhat tired and are missing a few guys, but it's not the end of the world. The end of the world would be the Suns, a team that has lost six straight games, lost 12 of the last 13, and lost 21 of the last 23. Phoenix has been terrible with all their injuries of late. We know how that can be, but the Jazz weathered the storm. Phoenix? They are in complete eclipse mode right now. It's a bad time for them to face a team playing on a five game win streak.
Utah is rocking the 11th best offense (105.8 ORTG) and the 12th best defense (104.4 DRTG), and sure, they play at the slowest pace in the league, but they still get results. For the season they have held teams under 96.0 ppg (3rd), and the last time a team scored 100 on them was an overtime game back on January 20th. Phoenix? Well, they play at the 5th fastest pace in the league, but have the 27th best ORTG, 26th best DRTG, and are giving up 106.5 ppg (29th). The team numbers aren't great in this match-up for the Suns. Offensive the Suns turn the ball over like crazy, 29th "best" in the NBA, (15.2% of the time), and the Jazz are eighth best at forcing turn overs (14.2%). It could be a sloppy game for them.
It's really going to be sloppy because they will be playing without Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Ronnie Price. Their best point guards for tonight are going to be Archie Goodwin and Jordan McRae. Sure, the Jazz will be without Dante Exum, and Trey Burke is out with flu like symptoms right now -- but the Jazz have the advantage here. And that's just the beginning of the Jazz player advantage. Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood, it's not going to be easy for Phoenix.
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It's not going to be easy for the Jazz either. Teams play great when their back is to the corner. Earl Watson is a soldier, and his players should respond to him in this game. They have lost the first two of his coaching career, and have the "we're not as tired" bonus in this game. It's going to be fun to see if Utah can get it together in the first half of the game. They haven't been starting things that well. Against the Suns? They'll have a great chance to do just that.