The Morning Shootaround – Utah Jazz: Week 22

Rudy

This week’s games:

  • Monday, March 23 – Minnesota Timberwolves. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT
  • Wednesday, March 25 – Portland Trail Blazers. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT
  • Friday, March 27 – Denver Nuggets. Pepsi Center. 7:00 PM MT
  • Saturday, March 28 – Oklahoma City Thunder. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT.

Game of the Week: Utah Jazz vs Portland Trail Blazers

Sure, we could give the game of the week to the return of Enes Kanter, but, to be honest, I don’t think Jazz fans have missed him all that much.  Meanwhile, it seems like it was just last week when the Jazz dominated a home game against the Blazers, but it’s actually been over a month.  So, I have to give the game of the week to Portland’s shot at revenge, and an always enjoyed visit from Weber State alum, Damian Lillard.  In a week full of division match-ups, can the Jazz once again knock off the top team in the Northwest?

Player Focus: Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert

Since the trade of Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert have been spectacular in different ways – and together, it’s been that much better.  Favors’ offensive production has gone up, including averaging over 18 points per game on 51% shooting this month. Meanwhile, Gobert has been putting up great defensive numbers and crashing the boards at an insane rate of  15.5 rebounds per game during the month of March.  Watch for them to have an excellent week, especially with extra motivation coming on Saturday when the Jazz face-off against Kanter and the Oklahoma City Thunder.  It’s unlikely that there will be a game this season where these two have more motivation to show what they can do than that one.

Game Predictions:

Timberwolves: Let’s put this kindly – the Timberwolves have been terrible lately.  During the month of March, they’ve only won two games, one being an overtime game on the road against the Knicks.  The Wolves were without Ricky Rubio, Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Garnett, Gary Neal, and Justin Hamilton for Sunday’s home game against the Charlotte Hornets, and I have a hard time believing that many will be back for the one-game road-trip to Utah.  As long as the Jazz don’t get too comfortable, this should be an easy way for them to get back to their winning ways. – Jazz win, 94-86.

Trail Blazers: While Portland has the best record of all the teams that Utah will face this week, the face is that the Jazz have only dropped four games since their last meeting.  The Blazers have lost five games since that night in February, but those losses have included the likes of Orlando and Minnesota.  The Blazers will be leaving Portland following a late-night, nationally televised match-up with the Golden State Warriors.  Utah’s recent surge and the benefit of having a home game with a day of rest makes me feel pretty good about this game. – Jazz win, 89-85

Nuggets: The Jazz went into Denver at the end of February and dominated the Nuggets on their home court.  Since then, the Nuggets have had a very respectable March.  They’ve won seven of their thirteen games, and will likely win a home game against the 76ers on Wednesday.  Still, the Jazz have been one of the NBA’s hottest teams during that same time.  If the Jazz can contain Ty Lawson, who’s the Nuggets leading scorer this season, and Kenneth Faried, who’s averaged over 17 points per game over the last ten games.  Sure, it’s a road game, but have those really been a problem for the Jazz this season?  – Jazz win, 91-88.

Thunder: Enes Kanter plays for the Thunder now. Kevin Durant is out indefinitely.  Russell Westbrook puts up video game stats.  The Thunder are fighting for a shot at the playoffs.  That’s really all that you need to know about this game.  Keep an eye on the match-up between Kanter and the Jazz bigs.  Sure, Kanter has been averaging a double-double and scoring nearly 17 points per game over this last ten, but will he be able to get those number against the likes of Favors and Gobert? And will he be able to defend the guys he used to play beside?  While this game has me nervous, I’m going to take a chance and say that the Jazz finish the week perfect. – Jazz win, 95-93

Jazz History: 

March 24, 2001
Karl Malone sank free throw #8,532 in a 119-93 win over the Washington Wizards at the Delta Center, becoming the NBA’s all-time leader in free throws made.  The Mailman finished his career making 9,787 of his 13,188 free throw attempts.  That’s a lot of time at the stripe.

 

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.