The Utah Jazz will play their final game of the week in Rip City. Utah is staring down the barrel of a winless four game road trip.
The Utah Jazz are reeling on a three game losing streak at the moment. They’ve lost their past three games on the road despite having the luxury of opponents’ best players sitting out.
The Houston Rockets exposed a weakness of the Jazz, playing a true five-out and small ball lineup that switches on every screen. The San Antonio Spurs took the mid-range shots the Jazz try to give other teams, but this time made Utah pay for it.
And finally, the Denver Nuggets overwhelmed the Jazz with a third quarter surge that should have been mitigated by Donovan Mitchell. Instead, Mitchell went 1/12 from the field on the very night he earned his first All-Star selection.
Meanwhile, the Portland Trail-Blazers are coming in hot off a win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Damian Lillard scored 48 points, and is averaging 48.4 points per in his last five games. This season it feels like their lack of depth is finally catching up to them.
Damian Lillard is one of the greatest in the game today, but he can’t do it all alone. If the Jazz are able to mitigate Lillard then they will have a good shot at winning. That’s easier said than done though.
Generally the Jazz struggle to contain electric guards. Case in point: they let Eric Gordon go off for 50 points earlier this week.
Utah will also have some improvising to do, since Mike Conley is set to go back in the starting lineup tonight. My guess is that things won’t be running as smoothly with Conley making that adjustment; Utah will need huge night’s from Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic in order to bury the Blazers.
Given that the Jazz are in a funk and are toying around with lineups, and the Blazers are on the second end of a back-to-back, this should be a fun game to watch that might even end in a buzzer beater.
Tip-off: 8:30 PM on February 1 from Moda Center in Portland, OR
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: The Zone Sports Network (97.5 FM and 1280 AM Salt Lake City)
Projected Starting Lineups
Utah Jazz Position Portland Trail-Blazers
Bojan Bogdanovic SF Trevor Ariza
Donovan Mitchell SG CJ McCollum
Mike Conley PG Damian Lilllard
Tony Bradley is OUT for tonight’s game. He missed Thursday night’s game with a right knee sprain. As mentioned previously, Mike Conley will not only play tonight but play as a member of the starting five once again.
Jusuf Nurkic is still out, which is no surprise since he is rehabbing the leg he fractured in last year’s playoffs. He was on track to return this month after the All-Star break, but suffered a relapse in practice with a lower calf strain.
Rodney Hood suffered a season ending Achilles injury in December, and Zach Collins had surgery on his dislocated shoulder that will keep him out until March. Skal Labissiere (knee) is set to be reevaluated in about a week.
Carmelo Anthony (personal reasons) sat out last night’s game, most likely due to the emotional shock of Kobe Bryant‘s death while playing in his old stomping grounds. Anthony will play tonight though.
I’m predicting this will be a hard fought game for both sides. Utah is looking to end their losing streak and get back on track for the chase of a top two playoff seed. Portland is fighting every day for their chances of making the playoffs this spring, and have rattled off three straight.
It’s about time for a win and a bounce back game from several Jazz players, especially Donovan Mitchell. I’m picking the Jazz to win 124 to 123.
#UTAatPOR is the hashtag on Twitter, and as always the comment thread will be available for some live game chatter. Go Jazz!