Who: Utah Jazz vs Charlotte Bobcats
What: NBA Basketball – Jazz Home Game
When: 9:00 PM ET
Where: Live at EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
|Utah||9-24||97.8 (27)||108.2 (30)||93.9 (27)|
|Charlotte||14-17||96.6 (28)||98.3 (3)||95.0 (24)|
Charlotte: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (OUT), Jeffery Taylor (OUT)
|PG||Trey Burke||Kemba Walker|
|SG||Gordon Hayward||Gerald Henderson|
|SF||Richard Jefferson||Anthony Tolliver|
|PF||Marvin Williams||Josh McRoberts|
|C||Derrick Favors||Al Jefferson|
|6th Man||Enes Kanter||Ramon Sessions|
1- REVENGE? Utah spoiled the party last Saturday night when the team unveiled the new Hornets logo, as they won in Charlotte. Now Al Jefferson makes his first appearance back in Utah since signing with Charlotte this summer. Predict Big Al’s night.
Spencer: Favors and Kanter are a load around the basket. Jefferson definitely had a difficult time getting close to the rim against the two last Saturday night and I could see that being an issue again tonight. Best way to negate that – get to the foul line and get one of these mammoths on the bench with foul trouble. All that being said, I just get a feeling that Big Al is going off tonight — 25 points + 13 rebounds.
Greg: Jefferson’s been on a hot streak over the last few weeks; he’s averaging 22.2 points and 13.2 rebounds on 49.2 percent shooting in the last six games. The Jazz are actually a good matchup for him, too, as they allow the second-most shots in the restricted area despite playing at one of the slowest paces in the league. He should be able to take advantage inside.
Andy Larsen (SaltCityHoops.com): Big Al’s game is one of the most consistent, from night to night, of any player in the NBA: he generally demands the same approximate number of shots, and the shots he takes aren’t usually ones the defense alters anyway. So while this is boring, I’m predicting the same 8-18 game for 19 points and 11 rebounds that he’s averaged this season and essentially his entire career on a per 36 basis. The matchup with his former team last weekend shows that Utah’s defense doesn’t present anything unusual for Al: he shot 9-19 with 19 points and 11 rebounds. I doubt this game varies wildly.
2- IMPROVEMENT. After a disastrous start to the season, the Jazz have been respectable as of late going 5-5 in their past 10 games. What’s been the biggest difference for this team seemingly turning a small corner?
Spencer: Improved shooting from deep + taking care of the basketball. The Jazz have been averaging 8 3-pointers/game over the past 10 games opposed to 6.3 for the entire season. Also, Utah is valuing the ball more – they’ve only turned it over 13.2 times/game in the past 10, but 15.5/game over the entire season.
Greg: Trey Burke. Burke’s been playing for 21 games now, so he’s not the only reason, but the team seems to go as he goes. He’s averaging 17.5 points on 57.1 percent true shooting in wins, and 10.9 points on 43.6 percent true shooting in losses.
Andy: Getting healthy. The entire Jazz roster is healthy (incredibly unusal for an NBA team this late in the year!), which has allowed Ty Corbin to stop giving huge minutes to very fringe NBA players as they were at the beginning of the season. Trey Burke has been the main upgrade, and has surpassed early expectations after a very poor summer league and preseason performance. Before Burke’s return from a broken finger, the likes of Jamaal Tinsley, John Lucas III, and Diante Garrett were getting starters minutes at PG. The return of Marvin Williams has been big as well, he’s a considerable improvement over Mike Harris and is providing spacing as a starting stretch 4. The result is a Jazz team with a capable (league average) offense and still horrendous defense.
Spencer: Unlike Charlotte teams of recent memory, this one has a purpose. They believe they can win any given night and have a coach who will accept nothing less than maximum effort. This locker knows that they’ve been extremely close all season long to turning a serious corner as far as contending is concerned. Utah ruined the last Saturday night for Charlotte and their energized fan-base, and then add Jefferson’s first trip back to Utah on top of that – I think the Bobcats win.
Greg: Utah’s a tough place to play even when the Jazz are bad. They’re a pedestrian 3-5 there so far, but the losses have come against good teams, including Indianapolis, Portland, San Antonio and Phoenix. With the Bobcats banged up and seemingly slumping, I think the Jazz take tonight’s game.
Andy: The Bobcats. Ultimately, I suspect Steve Clifford’s defense will again hold the Jazz to low scoring totals (88 last game on just 38% shooting). This game, I’m predicting Charlotte scores more than 85.