The Morning Shootaround – Utah Jazz: Week 21

This week’s games:

  • Monday, March 16 – Charlotte Hornets. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT
  • Wednesday, March 18 –  Washington Wizards. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT
  • Thursday, March 19 – Los Angeles Lakers. STAPLES Center. 8:30 PM MT
  • Saturday, March 14 – Golden State Warriors. ORACLE Arena. 8:300 PM MT.

Game of the Week: Utah Jazz vs Golden State Warriors

While it may be tempting to award game of the week to the homecoming of many former Jazz players now with the Hornets, or even to a revenge game on the road against the Lakers, the game of the week has to be the challenge of playing at Golden State.  The Warriors have the best record in the league and have only dropped two games at home this season.  That’s right – TWO.  This is by far the greatest challenge that the Jazz will face, probably for the remainder of the season, but the Jazz have been red-hot since the all-star break and played the role of spoiler against teams like Portland, San Antonio, and Houston since then, so who’s to say they can’t pull off what many would consider the near impossible?  It’ll definitely be worth tuning in to find out.

Player Focus: Dante Exum

Exum is still holding onto that starting spot, and has been getting true starter minutes as of late.  He’s played over 32 minutes per game in has last three appearances, and during the month of March, his production has gone up.  This month, he’s above his season averages in points, assists, rebounds, and blocks per game, not to mention shooting a better percentage from the field.  This week will be a real challenge for Dante as he goes up against the likes of Mo Williams, Kemba Walker, John Wall, and some guy named Stephen Curry.  I’ve been saying that I’d like to see more from Exum on the offensive side of the ball, and while his stats are up, this week I’m much more concerned about his defense.  Dante isn’t shutting down Curry, but if he can make life a little harder on him, I’ll consider that a win for the young rook.

Game Predictions:

Hornets: Charlotte has won six of their eight games in the month of March, so they are on a bit of a hot streak recently, and for good reason.  The Hornets are currently in eighth place in the East and playing for their postseason lives right now.  Monday could be very interesting for the Hornets, as both Al Jefferson and Cody Zeller are questionable for their game against the Jazz.  If the aren’t able to go, watch for the Jazz to force the issue in the paint, and plan on Charlotte taking most of their shots outside – Mo Williams and Kemba Walker lead the team in scoring with 21.0 and 18.3 points per game respectively.  Playoff team or not, this is a game the Jazz should win fairly easily. – Jazz win, 92-82.

Wizards: As of Monday morning the Wizards have won three games in a row.  That’s all fine and dandy, but if you look back a little further, you’ll find that they’ve only won five of their last thirteen.  Don’t get me wrong,  I think Washington has a great team and the potential do to real damage in the Eastern conference, but with the way the Jazz have been playing lately, I’m not overly concerned.  Once again, Utah’s guards will be challenged to contain the Wizards’ top two scorers – John Wall and Bradley Beal.  As long as the Jazz stay focused and don’t start eyeing their revenge game in Los Angeles, I think they’ll be just fine. – Jazz win, 87-84.

Lakers: The Lakers went on a short three-game win streak that the Jazz happened to land in the middle of, but since then, they’ve dropped six of their last seven games.  This is a game that the Jazz should dominate, and since they have the recent memory of losing to these guys at home, I think they’ll do just that.  There’s always the possibility that the Jazz get a little too confident in themselves and  end up playing down to the level of their competition, but I just don’t see that happening.  Please guys, don’t let that happen…  – Jazz win, 88-81.

Warriors: Since the Jazz last saw the Golden State Warriors in the 110-100 victory at Energy Solutions Arena, the Warriors have won sixteen of the twenty-one games that they’ve played.  I don’t have to tell you how great the Warriors are offensively or how MVP-candidate Steph Curry is an incredible talent having an even more incredible season.  The nice thing for the Jazz is that the catch Golden State on the second night of a back-to-back and right before a four-game road trip.  Maybe things will go Utah’s way and they’ll pull of the upset, but I wouldn’t put money on it.  This is where I see the win streak ending. – Jazz lose, 98-91

Jazz History: 

March 19, 1997
John Stockton recorded one steal in a 113-100 win over the Celtics, becoming the first player in NBA history to reach 2,5000 career steals.

 

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.