Team Records: Portland (33-40) at Utah (38-36)
Game Info: 6 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Utah -9
Refs: Bennett Salvatore, Dick Bavetta, David Guthrie
The Skinny: After getting blown out by a superior Warriors team in Oakland Saturday night, the Blazers conclude their two game mini-road trip in Utah Monday. Portland will look to secure a season-series split against a Jazz team needing wins to maintain a lead over the Lakers for the West’s final playoff spot. Utah has now won four straight after having lost four straight prior to their current streak.
Last Time They Met: Portland played well through in the first half but Aldridge’s absence cost them dearly as Utah simply wore down the Blazers and pulled away late to secure a win in Portland.
Projected Jazz Lineup:
PF-Paul Millsap (Louisiana Tech-7th Season) 14.9 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.6 APG.
SF-Gordon Hayward (Butler-3rd Season)-14.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.9 APG.
C-Al Jefferson (Prentiss (HS)-9th Season)-17.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2.1 APG
SG-Randy Foye (Villanova-7th Season)-10.8 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 2 APG.
PG-Mo Williams (Alabama-10th Season)-12.6 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 6.3 APG.
Player to Watch: Randy Foye (pictured at right) – It is perhaps only an accident that this one time Blazers draft pick (traded immediately on draft day) has a name that rhymes with the player he was traded for, Brandon Roy. Beyond that, there is little to compare the two players, even when Roy was playing and playing extremely well. At his best, Foye is basically a solid spot up shooter who doesn’t turn the ball over very much. Beyond that, however, his abilities are limited as Foye is a poor defender, can’t rebound well and even though he shoots well from the line doesn’t do a good job drawing fouls. If Utah wants to improve, Foye is probably not the answer for them as starting SG.
Did You Know?: The Jazz won last year’s season series over Portland and have not won consecutive season series over the Blazers since the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.
Song of the Day: “Salt Lake City” by the Beach Boys-Not exactly one of their best known songs but the Beach Boys did release this song back in 1965. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-SG Elliott Williams (Achilles), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Ankle).
Utah: Out-C Enes Kanter (Shoulder).
Re-Evaluating Utah: Playoff Chances
Utah made the playoffs last year after a furious late season charge but their stay was short-lived, as they were swept by the Jazz in a series where frankly the outcome of no individual game, let alone the series as a whole, was ever truly in doubt. With a likely rematch this year versus the Spurs or possibly against the Thunder should they make the playoffs, will Utah fare much better? Probably not, as the most the Jazz will probably win is one game, the Thunder and Spurs are simply that much better than they are and it is hard to see the Jazz as being little more than a proverbial speed bump for OKC or SA as those teams race towards a possible NBA title.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They get something resembling balance on offense. No one player on Portland can beat a quality opponent like Utah alone especially without Aldridge playing.
Utah wins if: They score 100 points. Utah is very hard to beat when they top the century mark and if they do it Monday, they probably win.