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Utah Jazz vs. Portland Trailblazers: Game Preview

Can the Jazz beat them for a second time this week?

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not quite a home-and-away stint, but it hasn’t been too long ago that we’ve seen them, and it hasn’t been too long ago that we beat them. For tonight’s show the play will be performed in Portland though, away from the comforting embrace of the Aunt Viv. And this time, the Jazz are the ones who played the T-Wolves the day before, so tired legs for us, not so much Damian Lillard.

The Jazz are in a winning mood however! Not only did they beat this familiar foe a couple of days ago, they also beat the Timberwolves in a game where Hood and Favors saw a return to action. As a matter of fact, the only one on the injury report is George Hill, who is questionable. Besides that, the Jazz are good to go, and if that burst by Favors for the pick-and-roll dunk was anything to go by, we might be in for a nice end to the season.

Especially since the Trailblazers have no big men whatsoever. Still, they won against the Timberwolves (The Blazers, Jazz, and Timberwolves seem to have a mini-league of their own going on this month), and they would love nothing better than to show the Jazz what they’re really made of.

Assumed Starters:

PG: Dante Exum vs. Damian Lillard
SG: Rodney Hood vs. C.J. McCollum
SF: Gordon Hayward vs. Allen Crabbe (or Harkless)
PF: Boris Diaw vs. Al-Farouq Aminu
C: Rudy Gobert vs. Noah Vonleh

Key Match-Up: Exum vs. Lillard

Lillard had what only can be described as an extremely poor game last time against Utah. He shot 5-for-20 and had 3 assists. With that performance still fresh on his mind, he no doubt would love to show the Jazz what he’s really capable of. Hill might return, but otherwise he has young Dante in front of him, in which case Lillard would love to make it a big-vs-little-brother-on-the-driveway kind of thing. Exum has been playing well as of late though, and with his long arms he might hinder some of those shots Lillard wants to be taking.

X-Factor: Derrick Favors

Favors played well in his return game, shooting 6-for-9 and being another big body to try and slow down Towns. This time, no such foe, as the Jazz bigs will be facing off against Vonleh, Meyers, and, sometimes, Aminu. Meyers is an outside kind of big, and Aminu is just the tallest guy they have when Vonley and Meyers are in foul trouble or just not playing well.

Gobert was feasting on them a couple of nights ago, scoring 20 points to go with his 11 rebounds, and Favors has a more advanced offensive game (and some extra muscles to boot). If Favors can show that the resting period has done him some good he might be in for a confidence booster tonight.

Prediction: Jazz win

On their way to home court!