Following their 33-point thrashing of the New Jersey Nets, the Utah Jazz will be hosting the run n’ gun Phoenix Suns tonight at EnergySolutions Arena. This is the first of four season matchups between the two teams who are currently battling for playoff positions in the Western Conference.
The Suns, who lead the league in points per game, will look to get a quality performance out of recently-announced All-Star Steve Nash. Nash should have his hands full, as he will be going up against Deron Williams, who is a premiere point guard in the NBA in his own right. In my opinion, the duel between the two great point guards will be one of two key matchups to watch in this game. The point guard who is able to control the flow of this game and remain calm when things start to go south will probably lead his team to a victory.
However, the point guards on their own will not be the only important factor in this game. Each team possesses top-flight power forwards who can score the basketball and clean the glass with ease. Of course, I am referring to Amare Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer. The last time these two teams met, Stoudemire did not play and Boozer played slightly more than half the game. This time around, though, these guys will be playing major minutes, and they will each have a huge impact on the outcome of this game. So far this season, Stoudemire is averaging a shade under 21 points per game, while also adding 8.6 rebounds per game. Boozer is averaging a double-double, as he scores over 19 a game and grabs over 10 rebounds a game.
In their last meeting with the Suns on March 28, 2009, the Jazz came away with a 104-99 victory in overtime. The leading scorer for Utah was Mehmet Okur, who dropped 26 on the Suns. The leading scorer for Phoenix was Steve Nash, who scored 20 points on 7-21 shooting. If Deron Williams can hold Nash to 33% shooting once again, I think the Jazz have a great chance of coming out of this game with a W.