Team Records: Portland (51-28) at Utah (24-54)
Game Info: 6 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 620 AM.
Vegas Line: Portland -7.5
Refs: Ron Garretson, Pat Fraher, Violet Palmer
Playoff Picture: Portland has secured their spot in the 2014 playoffs. The Blazers currently sit in fifth place and would play Houston if the playoffs started today.
The Skinny: Portland travels to Utah for their final road game of the regulars season as they look to sweep the Jazz for the first time in series history. The Jazz have been doing a great job tanking as of late, going 5-20 since the teams last met a few months ago. Utah comes into tonight having lost seven of their last eight games and has not beaten a team with a winning record since a shocking win over Miami on February 8.
Last Time They Met: The Blazers woke up just in time to put Utah away, winning by eight in a game that it never really got a firm hold on until late. Lillard had 28 points and 7 assists and Lopez had a season-high 18 rebounds to lead Portland to victory.
Projected Jazz Lineup:
PF-Marvin Williams (North Carolina-9th Season)-9.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.2 APG.
SF-Richard Jefferson (Arizona-13th Season)-10.3 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.6 APG.
C-Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech-4th Season)-13.1 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.2 APG
SG-Gordon Hayward (Butler-4th Season)-16 PPG, 5 RPG, 5.2 APG.
PG-Trey Burke (Michigan-Rookie)-12.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.5 APG.
Player to Watch-Derrick Favors (pictured at right)-It took him a while but Favors seems to have finally found his groove. After a sub-par rookie season Favors has steadily improved year over year, becoming the inside presence it was hoped he would become. Favors is a good finisher at the rim, shooting over 51% from the floor, although not a great FT shooter (67%) and a good rebounder as well. Favors is the sort of player you may not be able to build around but if Utah is to make a playoff run anytime soon he is the sort of player you need. Maybe not a #1 option but certainly a solid #2 or 3.
Did You Know?: Alec Burks is 4th in the NBA in bench points, scoring 919, ranking behind only Markieff Morris, Vince Cater and Nick Young.
Song of the Day: “Turn it Off” from the Book of Mormon. Yes I picked this song because it mentions the Utah Jazz, hope you enjoy this irreverent tune. Enjoy:
Portland: Out-PF/C Joel Freeland (Knee)
Utah: Questionable-PF Marcus Williams (Knee)
Re-Evaluating Utah: Poised to Rebuild Quickly
Yes the Jazz are terrible this year but unlike many other bad teams, they seem well-poised to make substantial improvements in short order. The Jazz have a decent young core, a lot of cap space (although much of it will go to resigning that young core) and Golden State’s first round pick this year. The biggest question may be whether they need a new coach as Tyrone Corbin has yet to prove he can win games (not that he’s been given much to work with). Still, the Jazz and their fans should feel good about where they are and they might well come close to a playoff bid next year if everything goes right.
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, this should not be close.
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.