Team Records: Utah (27-26) at Portland (25-28)
Game Info: 7 p.m., TV on CSNNW, radio on 750 AM the Game
Vegas Line: Portland -3.5
The Skinny: Fresh off one of their more comprehensive wins of the year Sunday vs. the Wolves, the Blazers look to win back to back games for the first time in over two months vs. a suddenly struggling Utah team. After going on a tear for much of March, a 4-OT loss in Atlanta has led to a stretch where the Jazz have dropped 4 of 5, including three straight. If they want to maintain hopes of a playoff berth, they need a win tonight.
Last Time They Met: In a back and forth affair, Utah got the last laugh as they survived due to Batum going down with a knee injury when he appeared to have a clear path on a shot that would have sent the game to OT. Millsap led the way for Utah with 19 points and 15 boards.
Projected Jazz Lineup:
PF: Paul Millsap (Louisiana Tech, 6th season) – 16.2 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 2.3 APG
SF: Gordon Hayward (Butler, 2nd season) – 10.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.1 APG
C: Al Jefferson (Prentiss (HS), 8th season) – 19.6 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 2.2 APG
SG: CJ Miles (Skyline (HS), 7th season) – 9.1 PPG, 2 RPG, 1.2 APG
PG: Devin Harris (Wisconsin, 8th season) – 10.1 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 4.9 APG
Did You Know?: The Jazz played in and lost the first 4 OT game in the NBA since the Blazers lost to Phoenix in 1997.
Song of the Day: “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” from the Musical “Book of Mormon”-A song from the hilarious musical “Book of Mormon”, this song talks about the mythical Salt Lake City in the eyes of a young Ugandan girl. Enjoy:
Portland: Out – SG Elliot Williams (Shoulder), PF Shawne Williams (Foot), Questionable-C Joel Przybilla (knee).
Utah: Out- SG Raja Bell, SF Josh Howard (Knee).
Re-Evaluating Utah: Why the Struggles?
It wasn’t too long ago that the Jazz were flying high, they won six in a row last month, including back to back impressive wins over the Lakers and OKC. Suddenly in the last week they have hit the skids. Why? The answer might well lie in the bench. With Hayward and Miles starting, the Jazz don’t have a lot of scoring punch left on their bench. They are forced to rely on talented if raw players such as Burks and Kanter, who are inconsistent at best, not surprising given that both are rookies. Still, if the Jazz are to make a playoff push, they need to find that rhythm in the second unit or they will be condemned to a second straight year out of the postseason, something they have not seen for nearly 30 years.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They make Utah rely on isos on offense. The key to Utah’s offense, especially Millsap’s, is passing. If Portland can force Utah to beat them one-on-one, they will probably be able to walk out with a win.
Utah wins if: They do well from deep. Utah has a bench full of good three-point shooters. If they can take and make a good number of three-pointers, they should be able to win Monday.