Team Records: Utah (26-21) at Portland (23-23)
Game Info: 7 PM-TV on CSNNW, Radio on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
Vegas Line: Portland -4.5
Refs: Bill Spooner, Kevin Cutler, Violet Palmer
The Skinny: After losing in typical Blazers fashion Friday night, Portland looks to bounce back as they face the Jazz in the second half of a home and home. Portland will likely be without Wesley Matthews, who sprained his ankle during the third quarter of Friday’s loss. This is Portland’s last home game before they head out for a six game road swing that will run until the all star break.
Last Time They Met: Utah took a big lead and Portland closed but never really threatened as the Jazz won.
Projected Jazz Lineup:
PF-Paul Millsap (Louisiana Tech-7th Season) 14.8 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.5 APG.
SF-Marvin Williams (North Carolina-8th Season)-8.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1 APG.
C-Al Jefferson (Prentiss (HS)-9th Season)-17.2 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 2 APG
SG-Randy Foye (Villanova-7th Season)-11.4 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 2 APG.
PG-Jamaal Tinsley (Iowa State-10th Season)-4.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 5.1 APG.
Player to Watch: Paul Millsap (pictured at right) – A few years ago Portland signed Paul Millsap to an offer sheet and although Utah matched the offer, it is easy to see why the Blazers wanted him. Millsap is one of the top mid-range shooters in the NBA and can also finish around the rim. Although he can’t create his own shot (nearly all of his attempts are assisted), he still has the ability to get in the right place to catch a pass in perfect scoring position. He is an excellent rebounder and does a good job staying in front of the opposition on defense. Where he struggles, however, is that he does not possess particularly long arms, so he does not block shots and struggles on defense against players with length. Still, Millsap may not be a star but he’s a solid player on a good team.
Did You Know?: The Jazz are one of only three teams to have never lost 60 games in a season. (The other two are the NY Knicks and the LA Lakers.)
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 Elliott Williams (Achilles), Questionable-PF Joel Freeland (Gastroenteritis), SG Wesley Matthews (Ankle).
Utah: Out-PG Mo Williams (Thumb), Doubtful-SG Gordon Hayward (Shoulder).
Re-Evaluating Utah: Home is Where the Wins Are
As with Portland, Utah has almost always been a much tougher home team than road team. Thus far this year they are 17-5 at home and 9-16 on the road. While the Jazz defense allows exactly the same number of points on the home as on the road (99.3), they are six points worse on offense on the road. Whether it is the youth of the team, the power of the crowd pushing them to perform or something else, they are a different, and far, better, team at home.
The Bottom Line:
Portland wins if: They get something resembling balance on offense. Lillard can’t do it alone, the rest of the team has to step up if the Blazers are to win it, especially without Wesley.
Utah wins if: They score 100 points. Without Wesley, Portland isn’t likely to be able to score a lot of points. If Utah can hit 100, they will almost certainly win.