This week’s games:
- Tuesday, March 3 – Memphis Grizzlies. FedExForum. 6:00 PM MT
- Wednesday, March 4 – Boston Celtics. TD Garden. 5:30 PM MT
- Friday, March 6 – Philadelphia 76ers. Wells Fargo Center. 5:00 PM MT.
- Sunday, March 8 – Brooklyn Nets. Barclays Center. 4:00 PM.
Game of the Week: Utah Jazz vs Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis is by far the best team that the Jazz will face this week. The last time these two teams met, Memphis defeated Utah by ten points in Salt Lake City; however, the last time they played in Tennessee, the Jazz were able to pull off the upset as an early Christmas present to Jazz fans. With the Utah Jazz finally seeming to be clicking as a team, this will be a great test to see if they can take the momentum of recent quality wins, against the likes of Portland and San Antonio, on the road.
Player Focus: Dante Exum
I’ve been a huge fan of Dante Exum since draft night, and have not been shy about calling him the point guard that this franchise needs to be successful over the next several years, but if you look at his stats, especially recently, they leave much to be desired. Over the last ten games, he’s averaging 3.4 points, 3.1 assists, 0.7 steals, and 0.1 blocks per game. In the last five games, Exum has only had more than one field goal once. During that same time span, he’s had eight turnovers compared to eight assists. Now I know that he’s young, learning, and as a starter, not expected to provide the offense or even be the primary facilitator on the court, but I’m in desperate need of seeing him have a decent game or two on the offensive end of the court. Match-ups against Mike Conley, Isaiah Thomas, and Deron Williams will create challenges for Exum, but I hope this pushes him to rise to the occasion. Watch for Dante to have his best game on Friday night against the 76ers, who don’t have a star point guard, especially since trading away Michael Carter-Williams.
Grizzlies: The Grizzles went 7-4 during the month of February. Sure, they lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers, but they also dropped games at Minnesota and Sacramento. I guess the thing to really consider is that their last home loss came on January 19 against the Dallas Mavericks; That loss being their only home loss of 2015. The Jazz have been defensively fantastic of late, and the Grizzlies allow the fewest points per game in the league, so plan on watching a good defensive battle. With as well as the Jazz have been playing, I think they make this game very interesting, but I’m not sure that they can win at the FedExForum twice in one season. – Jazz lose, 94-89.
Celtics: Boston’s on the outside looking in on the Eastern Conference playoff race. Their record is almost identical to Utah’s, and they’ve been decent of late, winning six of their last ten. Keep an eye on Isaiah Thomas. Although recently acquired, he’s consistently dropping twenty points on opposing teams. Consider him Boston’s Trey Burke, an offensive threat off the bench. I don’t see this game being easy for the Jazz, but it’s definitely winnable. Both teams will be on the tail-end of a back-to-back, as the Celtics play in Cleveland the night before. – Jazz win, 92-90.
76ers: The Sixers had a decent January – winning six games – but they only won three during the month of February. Sure, there was the All-Star break, but they lost eight games last month. To make matters worse for fans in Philly, the team traded Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels at the trade deadline. Sure, they acquired JaVale McGee, but as I write this, rumor is they are looking at a potential buyout with him. To be blunt, the 76ers are the dumpster fire of the NBA, and if the Jazz drop this game like they did against the Lakers last week, I’ll probably spend the weekend with the paper bag over my head. – Jazz win, 103-87.
Nets: The game on the road against the Nets is always one that I look forward to. I see it as a great opportunity to showcase what a stud Derrick Favors is and to go “neener neener neener” from my couch. While Brooklyn has been playing .500 ball recently, I have a hard time believing that they have it together. Like Boston, they are on the outside of the race for a playoff spot, but it’s the Eastern Conference we’re talking about. Between the road success that the Jazz have had this season and the recent surge since trading Enes Kanter, I’m going to FAVOR Utah…. Get it? – Jazz win, 95-90.
Jazz History: March 7, 1974
The New Orleans Jazz became the NBA’s 18th franchise. The franchise moved to Utah in 1979. Thanks, New Orleans!