The Morning Shootaround – Utah Jazz: Week 18

This week’s games:

  • Monday, February 23 – San Antonio Spurs. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT
  • Wednesday, February 25 – Los Angeles Lakers. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT
  • Friday, February 27 – Denver Nuggets. Pepsi Center. 7:00 PM MT.
  • Saturday, February 28 – Milwaukee Bucks. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM.

Game of the Week: Utah Jazz vs Milwaukee Bucks

The Utah Jazz have an intriguing week of games.  They’re biggest challenge should be Monday’s game against the Spurs, but they’re best match-up should be Saturday’s home game against the Bucks.  Milwaukee made a few moves at the trade deadline, but then again, so did the Jazz.  Despite the changes, the Bucks are still the most evenly matched team the Jazz will face this week,  and after the Jazz were able to pull off a two-point victory in Milwaukee on January 22, you can be sure that the Bucks will be looking for payback on Saturday.

Player Focus: Rudy Gobert

Well, they did it; The Jazz actually did it.  As most know, Enes Kanter was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder just minutes before the NBA trade deadline last Thursday, so the Rudy Gobert era in Utah has officially begun.  Sure, technically it may have begun when the Utah Jazz made the draft night move to get Gobert back in the summer of 2013, but this marks an investment in Gobert.  Not too long ago, the Jazz let Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap walk away from the team because they saw Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter as the future front-court of team, but clearly only half of that ended up being the case.  If the cheers at Friday night’s game against Portland were any indication as to how Jazz fans are feeling about the trade, let’s just say they don’t seem too tore up.  Gobert has quickly become a fan favorite on the team, and for good reason.  We’ll all be watching to see how he settles into his new permanent starting role with the team this week – I’m expecting that he’ll have some of his best games yet.

Game Predictions:

Spurs: The Spurs may have lost their games on Thursday and Friday, but a Gregg Popovich coached team is something to worry about post-All-Star break. The Spurs are known for being a balanced team when it comes to scoring, but keep an eye on Tim “Father Time” Duncan – he dropped 30 points against the Clippers Thursday night. While the Jazz could win this game, the Spurs are hungry for a win, so I’m giving them the edge. – Jazz lose, 100-97.

Lakers: The Kobe-less Lakers roll into town on Wednesday riding a one-game win streak.  That’s right… One game. And the Jazz will put their one-game win streak on the line.  Let’s be honest, the Lakers have only won four games since 2015 began, and none of those victories have come on the road.  Safe to say, the Jazz should win this game, but stranger things have happened.  – Jazz win, 106-95.

Nuggets: Denver made a few moves at the trade deadline – none of which made them any better right now.  They shipped off Aaron Afflalo and Alonzo Gee to Portland, and JaVale McGee to Philadelphia.  After cutting most of the active NBA players that they acquired, I’m completely confident saying that the tank is on in Denver.  Expect the Jazz to take full advantage of the situation. – Jazz win, 96-83.

Bucks: Milwaukee had a busy trade deadline.  They moved Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall to Phoenix for Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee, and also acquired Michael Carter-Williams from the Sixers.  Since then, they’ve also waived Larry Sanders.  With all the changes, I expect the Bucks to still be figuring everything out when they come to Salt Lake City.  While I expect that the Bucks will keep the game interesting, the Jazz will have home court advantage, and with both teams flying into SLC on the second night of back-to-back games, that could very well make the difference. – Jazz win, 99-95.

 

Jazz History:February 25, 1977
“Pistol” Pete Maravich scored a career-high 68 points as the New Orleans Jazz defeated New York 124-107. Only five NBA players have ever scored more than 68 points in a game.

About the author

Devin Masters

Devin has been a lifelong Utah Jazz fan, enduring the heartbreak of Michael Jordan’s push-off and the tragic end of the Sloan era. A lover of college athletics, he supports Notre Dame and the University of Utah. A fan of the world’s game, he can be found cheering for Real Salt Lake, and the American and Spanish national teams. Also a fan of the Denver Broncos, and a casual follower of the Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners. He is a Dub State graduate and widely considered the pride of Ogden.