The Utah Jazz kick off a tough stretch of games between now and the All-Star break when they host the Indiana Pacers, who have been a tough matchup for them, on Monday.
The Utah Jazz got back to their winning ways on Saturday night when they dominated the visiting Sacramento Kings. As nice as it was to see the Jazz notch another game in the win column after a disappointing loss in New Orleans, the contest also marked the final game of what’s been a relatively easy stretch for the Jazz. Beginning on Monday night, things are about to get a whole lot tougher.
That’s because the Jazz will be welcoming in the Indiana Pacers, who as of this writing are sitting in fifth place in the East with a 27-15 record. Much like seeds 2-6 in the West, the East is heavily contested in those spots as well, pitting the Pacers at just two games out of the 2-spot. What they’ve been able to accomplish without Victor Oladipo this season has been nothing less than incredible.
This upcoming game will be even tougher for an additional reason that’s very specific to the Jazz, though. Namely, the Indiana Pacers have presented a brutally difficult matchup in each of their last three meetings. The Jazz haven’t just lost three straight to Indy, they’ve been blown out three times in a row. Last season, Utah lost by 27 points in the two teams’ first meeting, then by a whopping 33 one week later.
Earlier this year, the Jazz were walloped yet again as the Pacers came away with a 121-102 victory. Odd side note – the Pacers have scored exactly 121 points in each of the past three meetings, so hopefully the Jazz can avoid them hitting that mark a fourth straight time against them.
It’s a bit confusing to see the Jazz struggle so much with Indiana. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a very good team, but certainly not head and shoulders above the Jazz as they’ve looked in the latest head-to-head meetings. Maybe it’s the big man tandem of Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis or the physical, gritty defensive mindset instilled by head coach Nate McMillan, or perhaps the well-rounded bench.
Whatever the case, the Jazz have had major issues against Indiana, and they’ll need to find another gear on Monday if they are to break the curse, re-initiate a brand new win streak, and get their challenging stretch between now and the All-Star break started off on the right foot.
Tip-off: 7:00 PM MT on January 20, 2020 from Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: The Zone Sports Network (97.5 FM & 1280 AM Salt Lake City)
Projected Starting Lineups
|Utah Jazz||Position||Indiana Pacers|
|Rudy Gobert||C||Myles Turner|
|Royce O’Neale||PF||Domantas Sabonis|
|Bojan Bogdanovic||SF||T.J. Warren|
|Joe Ingles||SG||Jeremy Lamb|
|Donovan Mitchell||PG||Malcolm Brogdon|
The Utah Jazz fortunately find themselves with a clean injury report ahead of Monday’s game. Mike Conley came off the bench against Sacramento and is on a minutes restriction, so it’s likely that the Jazz will stick to the same strategy against Indiana as they aim to remain cautious.
Meanwhile, the Pacers have dealt with several injuries all season including to their All-Star hopefuls Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis who are both having surprisingly incredible seasons. Fortunately for them, though, they should be at near full strength for their matchup against the Jazz on Monday.
Jeremy Lamb, who was in question to play against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday with a hip injury, was upgraded to available ahead of the bout. Indiana, of course, is without Victor Oladipo still, though he should be returning to action on January 29th. His addition could make an already staunch Pacers team even scarier, so the Jazz are catching a break to face them ahead of that moment. Lastly, Indiana is without two-way player and former Jazzman Naz Mitrou-Long who is dealing with an ankle injury.
No matter how you look at it, this is bound to be a tough game for the Jazz. Not only are the Pacers one of the top teams in the East, but they’ve had Utah’s number the past three matchups. Fortunately for the Jazz, though, Indiana will be coming into Salt Lake on the second night of a back-to-back after playing in Denver on Sunday, and is in the midst of a five-game road trip.
Those unfavorable circumstances may very well be enough to give the Jazz a marked advantage over the Pacers. The Action Network seems to think so as the Jazz are listed as 7-point favorites in the bout. I think it will be a little closer, but I agree that the Jazz should be able to top a likely tired Pacers team that is still without its best player in Oladipo. I’m going Jazz 114, Pacers 110.
#INDatUTA is the Twitter hashtag for the game and our live comment thread below will be up and rolling throughout the game as well. Go Jazz!