After a crushing loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Utah Jazz (37-24) face another non playoff team in the Brooklyn Nets (10-49). If the Jazz want any chance at home court advantage in the playoffs, they can’t lose games like these to below .500 teams.
Luckily for the Jazz, they’ve had a day off and didn’t spend it traveling. The loss to the Wolves was the worst of the season, but it wasn’t surprising. Playing the third game in four nights is tough and when you consider the red-eye travel involved, it has to be grueling. For the Jazz to have a night in their own beds, instead of walking through airports, should get them ready to face a scrappy Nets team.
This is a big opportunity for Utah. Games like these, against one of the worst teams in the league, can be a palate cleanser. A big win can wash away the bad taste left by a two game losing streak and remind the team of what they can do.
Unfortunately, the Jazz will be without Rodney Hood again with knee soreness.
.@UofUHealthCare // Injury Update:— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) March 3, 2017
Rodney Hood (right knee soreness) - OUT#BKNatUTA
To me, this is one of the under told stories of the season, Rodney Hood’s impact. We’ve all heard the stats about how good the Jazz are with their preferred starting five, something like 9-1. But it seems like we always think of it in terms of when George Hill plays. I’d argue that Rodney is a big part of that too.
The part of Rodney’s game that the Jazz will miss isn’t just the spacing he provides, but also his ability to get buckets at the end of the shot clock. It seems like we get at least one Rodney Hood three at the end of the shot clock every time he plays. Or he gets something out of nothing in various isolations. Here’s to hoping Rodney can get better soon.
George Hill vs Jeremy Lin
Joe Ingles vs Randy Foye
Gordon Hayward vs Caris Levert
Derrick Favors vs Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Rudy Gobert vs Brook Lopez
Marquee Matchup: Rudy Gobert vs Brook Lopez
The biggest key for the Jazz defense is to keep Rudy as close to the rim as possible and free to roam and block shots. In his last game against Sacramento Lopez took five threes but only made one of them. He’s also a load down low with his ability to score in the post. You can bet the Nets are going to do whatever they can to keep Gobert away from the rim and that means Lopez taking at least five more threes this game. The Jazz have to find a way to guard Lopez while also getting Rudy as near to the rim as possible.
If the Stifle Tower can keep Lopez in check and find ways to alter shots, the Jazz defense should do well against the Nets. If Lopez has a big game and neutralizes Rudy, the Nets have a chance.
X-Factor: Joe Ingles scoring
With Rodney out, Jingles has to be a weapon for the Jazz. The scouting report is out on Joe. Teams know that he’s in the top five in three point shooting (43.2 %). If Ingles can provide scoring for the Jazz, it can take some of the pressure off of Gordon and Hill.
It’s one of the bigger issues with the Jazz. When they have a player go down, they need someone to step up. We saw what happened against the Timberwolves on of either Hill or Hayward have a bad game, things can get bad fast. Ten points from Ingles will go a long way in helping the Jazz get a win.