Team Records: Utah (19-34) at Portland (36-18)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM.
Vegas Line: Portland -9
Refs: Monty McCutchen, Matt Boland, Pat Fraher
The Skinny: If there is a cure for what ails the Blazers as of late its coming to today Friday as the Jazz come into town. Utah, although playing better as of late, has exactly one road win over a team over .500 this season and that was against the Suns early in the year. Utah has won three of their last four but outside of a fluky win over Miami none of them are exactly high-quality opponents.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers controlled the game most of the way and led by 14 in the fourth, before Utah made a late and ultimately futile run to try and steal a win in Salt Lake City as the Blazers got the win 105-94.
Projected Jazz Lineup:
PF-Marvin Williams (North Carolina-9th Season)-10.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.2 APG.
SF-Richard Jefferson (Arizona-13th Season) 9.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.8 APG.
C-Enes Kanter (Kentucky-3rd Season)-11.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, .8 APG
SG-Gordon Hayward (Butler-4th Season)-16.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5 APG.
PG-Trey Burke (Michigan-Rookie)-12.3 PPG, 3 RPG, 5.6 APG.
Player to Watch-Enes Kanter (pictured at right)-Enes is someone from whom much was expected but has not exactly delivered. Forced to sit out his only college season at Kentucky after eligibility issues derailed it, Kanter was nonetheless drafted 3rd overall in the 2011 draft by Utah. Going into this season, Kanter had looked to be progressing well, with an above average PER of 17.65 and significant improvement on offense. However this year Kanter has taken a fairly large step back, seeing his already low rebounding numbers dwindle further and his shooting both from the floor and the line regress a fair bit. If Utah is going to be relevant anytime soon, Kanter will have to get it together and play much better than he has this season.
Did You Know?: The Utah Jazz are almost certain to miss the playoffs for the second straight year. Coming into this year, Utah had only missed the playoffs four times since the 1983-84 season.
Song of the Day: “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha. Yes its tough for the Blazers to win right now with their injuries but its far from impossible. This is one of my favorite songs from my favorite musical of all time. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Knee), PF LaMarcus Aldridge (Groin), C Meyers Leonard (Ankle), Questionable-SF Nicolas Batum (Illness)
Utah: Out-C Derrick Favors (Hip)
Re-Evaluating Utah: Unfamiliar with Losing
As noted above, Utah has been perhaps the NBA’s most consistent franchise for much of the past few decades, making the playoffs virtually every season, yet never winning a title and only making the NBA Finals twice (both times losing to Jordan’s Bulls). Yet, with Coach Jerry Sloan retired and the franchise in full rebuilding mode, it is unfamiliar territory for virtually the entire Jazz fanbase. They can only hope that they will be back in the playoffs sooner rather than later, and perhaps even making a legit run for their first title in the not too distant future.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: Land the knockout punch early. Never let a bad team believe they have a chance to beat you. If Portland plays as they should, even short-handed, or even close to how they did, they should win easily.
Utah wins if: They play from ahead. Utah is not going to win this game coming from behind, they aren’t built that way. If they can play with a lead for much of the game, however, they could pull off the win.