Team Records: Utah (17-30) at Portland (32-16)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM.
Vegas Line: Portland -8.5
Refs: James Capers, Tre Maddox, Gary Zielinski
The Skinny: Rolo makes his return as the Blazers take on the out of tune Utah Jazz. Utah is a better team this year, its just a bit hard to see. They are 3-2 in their last five games, including a win over the Warriors.
Last Season: The Blazers swept the Jazz 4-0. It as the first time Portland had ever swept the Jazz. Previously, Utah had been the only opponent the Blazers had never swept.
Projected Jazz Lineup:
PF-Enes Kanter (Kentucky-4th Season)-14 PPG, 7.6 RPG, .6 APG.
SF-Gordon Hayward (Butler-5th Season)-19.2 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.2 APG.
C-Derek Favors (Georgia Tech-5th Season)-15.7 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.4 APG
SG-Joe Ingles (Australia-Rookie)-4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 2.5 APG.
PG-Dante Exum (Australia-Rookie)-4.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 2.1 APG.
Player to Watch-Gordon Hayward (pictured at right)-Gordon Hayward is earning that big payday the Jazz gave him. After a few years of basically being an average to slightly above average player, Hayward has broken out this year and become a leader. Hayward is a multifaceted perimeter player who served more as a creator than a scorer in the past but has taken on much more of a scoring role this year. His biggest problem had been inconsistency and while he’s not as consistent as he would probably like, he’s pretty darn consistently good at this point. He’s no all-star but he’s something for Utah to build around, and is certainly playing up to his big contract.
Did You Know?: Rudy Gobert is second in the NBA with 3.1 blocks per game.
Song of the Day: “Batman and Robin” by Snoop Dogg-In honor of Rolo’s return. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Shoulder)
Utah: Out-SG Alec Burks (Shoulder), SG Rodney Hood (Foot)
Utah, they still stink but not nearly as much as they have the past several years. They are 27th in defense but even there they have Gobert blocking shots and doing a few things, even if almost no one else is. On offense the Jazz are very much middle of the road, ranked 15th. They are capable of putting up big numbers, especially if Hayward gets going. If Hayward struggles, its usually hard for the Jazz to pull out the win. This team isn’t as good as Portland but they ain’t pushovers either.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They keep their focus. This is a bad Utah team and Portland can’t let the Jazz believe they have a shot. If the Blazers are focused, they should roll.
Utah wins if: Hayward goes nuclear. Hayward has five 30+ point performances so far this year. He’ll need to make it six for Utah to have a legitimate shot at winning.