The Portland Trail Blazers face the Utah Jazz tonight in a battle of the Western Conference’s prime two groups (and with that, the Conference’s two greatest surprises). It’s the ultimate matchup of a three-game dwelling stand for the Blazers earlier than they fly away once more for a four-game street journey.
After a 4-2 report on their final street journey that had folks shouting and dancing from the rooftops, the Blazers have cooled off slightly since returning to PDX. The Blazers barely received by the inexperienced San Antonio Spurs, then ran out of gasoline Thursday night time in opposition to the dying-in-dysfunction Brooklyn Nets, shedding 109-107 within the last second. Still, Portland holds the No. 1 spot within the Western Conference and has an incredible probability to rebound tonight in opposition to high quality competitors.
The No. 2 seed within the West, The Jazz have additionally cooled off currently. After beginning the season 10-3, The Jazz are losers of their final 4 video games, however that one win did come final night time in a 134-133 barnburner over the Phoenix Suns. On the second night time of a back-to-back, The Jazz will look to gather one other W in opposition to a stout convention opponent.
Trail Blazers vs. Jazz – Saturday, November 19 – 7:00 pm PT
How to observe on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass, NBA TV
Blazers accidents: Gary Payton II (out), Keon Johnson (out), Nassir Little (questionable)
Jazz accidents: Rudy Gay (out)
SBN Affiliate: SLC Dunk
Moving that rock! I hear you Blazer’s Edge, I learn what many are saying within the feedback. The Blazers offense wasn’t lovely Thursday night time and Portland’s two high-octane guards resorted to an excessive amount of dribble-pounding, iso-heavy basketball. Damian Lillard (8-24 on the night time) shot 1-6 within the third quarter and 2-8 within the fourth, driving questionable shot choice. Anfernee Simons (8-20), after catching fireplace within the third, rode the recent hand too lengthy and took the offense out of rhythm with a number of unsuccessful isolation performs. It helped spur an 11-0 run from the Nets to get them again within the recreation. While a few of these points have been exacerbated by Portland’s Big Three capturing a mixed 18-57 — and whereas I believe we owe Simons some grace as he takes on a star function for the primary time — the 2 guards should be higher navigating that faucet dance between searching photographs and giving the offense stream. They understand it and Chauncey Billups is aware of it. Let’s see how the system works tonight.
Scoring. As rugged as Portland’s offense checked out occasions final recreation, imagine it or not, the Blazers have been almost on tempo for his or her season scoring common of 109.7. That’s ok for twenty fifth greatest within the Association. The Jazz alternatively, rating in bunches and transfer that rock! Utah is scoring 117.6 factors per recreation (third-best within the NBA) and doling out 28.1 assists per recreation (fifth-best). They’ve received a plethora of various weapons to beat you with. Forward Lauri Markkanen is having a profession 12 months, averaging 22.2 factors per recreation. Jordan Clarkson, now inserted into the beginning lineup, is at all times a tricky cowl. High-scoring guard Collin Sexton has taken over the function of torching bench items, scoring 13.3 factors in slightly over 20 minutes per recreation. The Blazers protection has vastly improved this 12 months. Tonight can be an incredible take a look at.
Jerami Grant and Shaedon Sharpe. One of those gamers got here again all the way down to earth Thursday night time, whereas the opposite skyrocketed to a profession excessive. After averaging 31 factors over a three-game stretch, Jerami Grant shot 2-13 for simply 5 factors in opposition to the Nets. On the opposite hand, Shaedon Sharpe had his greatest recreation as a professional, scoring 20 factors on 7-8 capturing and 4-5 from lengthy distance. He did all of it in 21 minutes off the bench. Against The Jazz, we’ll see if Grant can get it going and if Sharpe can hold it going
What Others Are Saying
Sven Karabegovic of SLC Dunk talks about how Utah was capable of get again to its successful methods final night time with blazing-hot offense.
After back-to-back video games highlighting low ranges of vitality, focus, and execution, the Jazz got here out with no holds barred in opposition to the Suns. In the primary quarter alone, Utah scored a whopping 42 factors on the backs of scorching capturing from each Lauri Markkanen and Malik Beasley. For the night time, the Jazz shot a blistering 51.6% from three and 56.0% from the sphere.
For essentially the most half, Utah truly received a plethora of open appears to be like. While I believe it is truthful to say that the Jazz have gotten an honest quantity of constructive random variance (ie, their nice 3pt capturing, poor opponent 3pt capturing, fortunate free balls, different wacky basketball moments), additionally they do a improbable job of producing good photographs for themselves.
Zach Kram of The Ringer argues there’s one motive why Utah’s scorching begin could also be for actual and Portland’s could also be much less so: level differential.
Along with rating fourth within the Western Conference standings, Utah is third within the West—and sixth in the whole NBA—in internet ranking. Compared to groups just like the Trail Blazers, who lead the West standings regardless of a middling level differential, or the Wizards, who’re 8-7 regardless of being outscored, the underlying numbers counsel the Jazz have extra endurance.
Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune writes how rookie coach Will Hardy helped The Jazz overcome Phoenix final night time by deploying a small-ball lineup. The resolution stored Malik Beasley within the recreation, who scored a season-high 27 factors and hit seven triples.
For an extended stretch of the fourth, Hardy stored beginning large man Kelly Olynyk on the bench, opting to roll with the opposite 4 starters (Lauri Markkanen, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jordan Clarkson, and Mike Conley) plus the 6-foot-4 Malik Beasley. . Only when Vanderbilt fouled out with 1 minute, 1 second to go did the coach put Olynyk again in.
At no level throughout that pivotal stretch did 7-footer and bonafide middle Walker Kessler contact the court docket, whilst Deandre Ayton stored the Suns alive by working the boards.