This week’s games:
- Monday, March 30 – Minnesota Timberwolves. Target Center. 6:00 PM MT
- Wednesday, April 1 – Denver Nuggets. Energy Solutions Arena. 7:00 PM MT
- Saturday, April 4 – Phoenix Suns. Talking Stick Resort Arena. 8:00 PM MT
- Sunday, April 5 – Sacramento Kings. Sleep Train Arena. 7:00 PM MT.
Game of the Week: Utah Jazz vs Phoenix Suns
The Jazz have played the Timberwolves and the Nuggets within the past week, and while a revenge game is always enjoyable, I’m looking forward to seeing Utah take on a less familiar challenge. A short trip to face the Phoenix Suns and Coach Jeff Hornacek is my game to watch this week. Besides, who doesn’t like listening to some fans complain about how much the Jazz missed out when they didn’t hire Hornacek as their head coach?
Player Focus: Gordon Hayward
Last week we had the opportunity to see how this young Utah Jazz team performs without Gordon Hayward in the line-up. The result was less than positive. The Jazz clearly missed Hayward’s talents on the offensive-side of the ball. Not only were they missing his scoring, but his ability to create a shot for himself or for his teammates. Hayward’s absence also allowed for the defense to stay to true to guarding other players. With Gordon back in the line-up, the Jazz will get another chance at teams they lost to last week. We don’t need to go over the stats or details about what Hayward will bring to the table, I’m just looking forward to watching Gordon help lead this young team to a view more victories as the season winds down.
Timberwolves: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on the Jazz. While the Wolves were able to come into Energy Solutions Arena and knock off the Jazz early last week, I have a hard time believing that it’ll happen twice in a row, even if the Jazz are on the road this week. Keep an eye on Zach LaVine – he dropped 27 points in Minnesota’s win at Utah. – Jazz win, 88-85.
Nuggets: This game is much the same as the Timberwolves game, only the Jazz will have the benefit of the home crowd this time. The Nuggets will be well-rested for this game, but I don’t think that will have much impact on this game. This young Utah team does not seem to accept losing very well, especially as of late, so watch for them to bounce back and have a decent game. The key to a Jazz victory will be containing Denver’s scoring back-court combination of Jameer Nelson and Ty Lawson. – Jazz win, 97-93
Suns: The Suns have dropped their last three games, and have to face Portland, Golden State, Atlanta, Dallas, and New Orleans in the next two weeks. With Utah being perhaps their easiest game, and having made the mistake of predicting a perfect week for the Jazz last week, this is the game I expect the Jazz to drop. Phoenix needs this victory, and if the Jazz don’t match that intensity, it’ll be very difficult to leave Arizona with a win. – Jazz lose, 95-89.
Sacramento: The Kings have been streaky of late. They lost their last game, but won the four before that, and lost eight of the nine games preceding that. So which team shows up? Well, you can almost count on a high scoring game, as the Kings average just over 101 points per game. Keep an eye on the match-up of Gordon Hayward versus Rudy Gay, but don’t let that take away from the real story of the night – Rudy Gobert and DeMarcus Cousins. My prediction for this game: At least one of the starting centers is going to get a technical, if not tossed from the game entirely. This won’t be an easy game for Utah, but if they lose in Phoenix, I fully expect this will be a game where they are determined to get back to winning. – Jazz win, 99-97.
Utah’s Karl Malone became the first NBA player to reach the 2,000-point plateau in 10 consecutive seasons in the Jazz’s 106-79 victory against the Grizzlies.