Well, here we are. We have twelve more games left in the season, and they’re not cakewalks. However, the Utah Jazz should be favored to win 4 of their next five, starting with this game against the Indiana Pacers. (The next ones are against he New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings)
These Pacers have been one of the most consistently inconsistent teams in the NBA this season, showing flashes of good basketball and turrible basketball, often within a single game. They sport a 24-10 record when playing in the friendly confines of the Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and an 11-24 road record. (35-34 overall) So, with that said, here are five things to watch for in tonight’s tilt.
1. Paul George: 4-Time All-Star
In wins, the Indiana all-star shoots 40% from 3pt land. In losses, he shoots around 36%. As far as overall FG%, it’s 48% and 42%, respectively, which makes the difference between 24 points ant 20 points. In his one game against the Utah Jazz this year (a loss) he exceeded these averages. So, PG13 is a workhorse. He’ll get his with relative efficiency every night, and whether it’s a win or a loss doesn’t seem to make much difference. However, that leads me into point number two . . .
2. Gordon Hayward vs. Paul George
Remember when everybody was all hot under the collar about the Jazz taking the Butler kid over the Fresno State kid? I know I wasn’t too thrilled. Look at where we are now. These guys are pretty evenly matched, for the most part, and there’s a legitimate argument for Hayward being the better player this season. Hayward has had a rather dismal couple of games, but I’m hoping that playing against a rival in his home state will jumpstart him. What would really be interesting if the two of them matched up at the PF spot, but that’s not likely to happen.
3. How does the Indiana crowd react to the other Indiana guys?
Look, I know this isn’t exactly a huge key to the game or anything, but it is a fun thing to watch for. Here’s a great article by Utah’s very own Jody Genessy exploring this storyline in-depth:
Here’s my input, as a former Hoosier wannabe:
- Gordon Hayward is from Brownsburg, and played at Butler University with Shelvin Mack. I’ve been to the Buffalo Wild Wings in Brownsburg a couple times, and they have Hayward memorabilia on the walls from Brownsburg high. He’s still very well-liked there, of course.
- Trey Lyles won the state championship with Arsenal Tech High school on Indy’s east side. I used to go work out there.
- George Hill attended Broad Ripple High up in the north-centralish area of Indianapolis and went on to play for IUPUI. The closest Broad Ripple comparison I can think of in Salt Lake City is Sugar House.
- Jeff Teague is also from Indianapolis, hailing from the 56th and Georgetown area and an alum of Pike High School. When I was in Indianapolis, I used to run into people all the time who would claim to be Teague’s cousin or former teammate or something.
4. Indiana Jazz–Pacers Edition
We’ve got two former Jazzmen on this year’s Indiana Pacers team, being Al Jefferson and @masfresco (C.J. Miles, for those of you who aren’t sprechen ze Twitter). C.J. is actually having himself a pretty good season, averaging 10.8 points, 3 rebounds and . . . well, he averages less than an assist per game, so there’s that. He’s shooting over 41% from beyond the arc, and over 43% from the field overall.
AL THE CONQUEROR!!1! (YuccaMan, where you at?) is having a quiet but respectable season off the bench, averaging 8.1/4.2/0.9. I wasn’t a fan of how Tyrone Corbin utilized Big Al when he was here, but I still root for him. Great guy.
I root for almost all ex-Jazzmen. I even have a spot for Derek Fisher, though I booed him heartily along with most of the rest of Jazzland whenever he returned to the ESA. I will never like Mark Jackson.
5. Season Trends–Losing Streaks
This season, the Jazz have 4 two-game losing steaks, 2 three-game losing streaks and 1 four-gamer. So, although this is rather simplistic, history says that the Jazz have a 57% chance of winning this one. There are, of course, other variables, such as the fact that Indiana played last night, getting beaten down by the Raptors Jurassic Park-style in Toronto. The Jazz should have little trouble beating these Pacers, but that’s what we thought about the Bulls. Still, I feel okay about this one.
Here’s the injury report for tonight.
Rodney Hood is questionable for Jazz v. Pacers. Derrick Favors and Shelvin Mack are out. Tip off at 5pm. Join me and Ron on your drive— David Locke (@Lockedonsports) March 20, 2017