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Indiana Pacers vs Utah Jazz: 5 Things to Watch

Jazz on longest winning streak of season. Hill to battle his old team.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Indiana Pacers Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

1 - George Hill to square of against his old team.

George Hill is an Indiana man. Hill was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. He played his college ball at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Now you know why they just call it IUPUI (palindrome fun). Hill played 5 seasons as an Indiana Pacer. He has an Indiana George tattoo and social media handle for crying out loud. So how does Hill feel about his first game against the team who traded him over the off-season?

Just another game? Yeah right! Given that Hill only played 31 minutes in the overtime win against the Mavericks last night, this could be a big game for Indiana George.

2 - Both teams on the second night of a back-to-back.

While the Jazz were busy scoring a win in their first overtime game of the season, the Pacers were busy picking up an L in La La Land. Tonight’s game will be one where the 3 full days of rest the Jazz just had before the Mavericks game and their depth will come in handy. In addition to Hill only playing 31 minutes, Favors only played 26 minutes, and Exum & Mack didn’t even play. Neto has been putting in some solid minutes for the Jazz (especially defensively) but it will be interesting to see who gets the backup point guard minutes.

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

3 - Gobert to continue his dominant play?

In case you were hiding out in a bunker for Inauguration Day and you didn’t see last night’s game: Rudy Gobert had what was easily the best game of his career last night. Gobert finished with 27 points (on 8-11 shooting), 25 rebounds (including 10 offensive rebounds), and 2 blocks in the Jazz OT win. It was a statement game. It was an “I-belong-in-the-All-Star-Game” game. Gobert also continued his incredible streak of games with 10 rebounds or more. He is now at 29 in a row and owns the longest active streak in the NBA.

4 - H20 versus PG-13.

Gordon Hayward versus Paul George is must-see TV. George has widely been considered a better player than Hayward throughout their careers but the tide is turning this year. They are averaging nearly identical scoring totals at 22 points per game and their rebounding and assists numbers are very close as well. You can see their traditional side-by-side comparison here. George averages more steals per game but Hayward has a much better defensive rating. You can also see here that Hayward leads in all of NBA.COM’s advanced metrics except for rebounding percentage (they are tied in that metric). Don’t look now but Hayward might be better than George.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Indiana Pacers
Do you hear that noise, Paul? That’s the sound of the tables turning.
Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

5 - Can Utah extend their longest winning streak of the season?

The Jazz have won 5 games in a row and 10 of their last 13 games. Their 5 game winning streak is second only to the Warriors’ 6 game winning streak. This is the soft spot of the Jazz schedule. Back before the season started I predicted (here) that the Jazz would go on a 14 game winning streak during this stretch. Ok, so I had them winning against Memphis but, regardless of what I predicted, the Jazz can make up some serious ground in the playoff race.

The Jazz are only 1 game back of the Clippers for the 4th spot in the West and 4 games back from the Rockets for the 3rd spot. It’s too early to be scoreboard watching but the Rockets are about to head out on a 5 game road trip. If the Jazz continue their winning ways into All-Star Weekend, it’s not unreasonable to think that they may be very close to Houston for the 3rd spot in the West come the All-Star break. All of that being said, the Jazz need to put winning streaks out of their minds and take care of business against the Pacers tonight.

Go Jazz!