This week’s games:
- Friday, February 20 – Portland Trail Blazers. Energy Solutions Arena.7:00 PM MT.
Game of the Week: Utah Jazz vs Portland Trail Blazers
It was incredibly difficult to decide on a game of the week for this edition of the Morning Shootaround, but after much debate, I settled on the game against the Blazers. I know, I know… not sure how I came to the decision either. In all seriousness, any time a successful division opponent comes to town, it’s worth watching. When that opponent has one of the most exciting players to ever enter the NBA out of a Utah-based college, it’s worth making it the game of the week. Damian Lillard and company will roll into town to start off the second half of the season for the Jazz. This should be a great way to jump back into basketball, especially after the close game that these two teams had in Portland less than three weeks ago.
Player Focus: Enes Kanter
By the time Friday’s game rolls around, it’s entirely possible that Enes Kanter could no longer be a member of the Utah Jazz. While I don’t think that it’s likely he is traded before Thursday’s deadline, there’s no arguing that Kanter is the focus of the Utah Jazz this week. Perhaps more interesting than having Kanter be traded is how his reception will be on Friday, should he remain with the team. While I was less than thrilled with his comments expressing a desire to be traded before the deadline, I will say that I don’t feel the fans should turn their backs on Kanter. I’ve always liked Kanter, but despite that, I haven’t been entirely convinced that he would play an important role in the Utah Jazz moving forward, especially with the emergence of Rudy Gobert as a future NBA star. Still, I would like to see him have a successful NBA career. If he can go somewhere and do that, and the Jazz can get something in return, I see it as a win-win situation. Come Friday, my hope is that is Enes is at Energy Solutions Arena, that he is not greeted with boos. I’m not saying that fans have to cheer for him when his name is announced, but if they’re going to do something, hold a moment of silence for the days when Kanter was the most liked guy on the team.
Blazers: Portland won four of their last five going into the All-Star break. Or they won five of their last ten, depending on how you want to look at it. The three-headed monster of LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, and Wesley Matthews will certainly cause problems for the Jazz on both sides of the ball, but the home-court advantage should help motivate the Jazz after more than a week off. While Portland will have the advantage of a healthier roster than Utah, I feel like this game is within reach for the Jazz. If this game is anything like their last match-up, the fans will be real winners, but a Jazz victory would sure be nice, too. – Jazz win, 103-100.
Jazz History:February 18, 1995
John Stockton became the first guard in NBA history to collect 10,000 career assists after dishing out 15 in Utah’s 108-98 home win over Boston