Feb. 15, 2011; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Grant Hill (33) and Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) react on the court at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Jazz 102-101. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Utah Jazz @ Phoenix Suns Game Preview

Well, here we are officially two days before the trade deadline … and no word on the horizon as to a Jazz trade, although Kevin O’Connor insists that he is “actively looking” at any and all trades. I’m not quite sure what that means – in fact, when you think about it, that answer really is a no answer. Of course he’s looking at trades! That’s his job. In fact, that’s what he says: “In the job that I have, one of the responsibilities is to improve the team.” OK. Thanks for the heads up.

In the meantime, the Jazz will have at least two more games with their current roster – Wednesday’s match-up with the Phoenix Suns (I almost bought tickets to that one, but ended up weeping in a corner after my current job wouldn’t allow the needed “away” time) and Thursday’s (hopefully) revenge game against those “pesky Timberwolves.”

The bout against Phoenix marks the first of three games the Jazz will have to play against their Western Conference rivals. Last season, Utah played the Suns a whopping five times (pre-season included), and ended up losing all three regular season games, including Tyrone Corbin’s coaching debut on February 11.

Of course, the last time both teams played, Phoenix walked away with a 102-101 victory, so it’s fair to say the Jazz are due for a win on Wednesday, amirite?
The Suns are more or less in the same boat as the Jazz this year, featuring a roster that includes a bizarre mix of young and old talent. Currently they’re sitting on a paltry 19-22 record, just a game behind Utah in the log-jammed bottom-tier Western Conference teams.

That doesn’t mean Phoenix isn’t capable of pulling off some upset victories. They still have Steve Nash, Grant Hill, Michael Redd, Shannon Brown, and former Jazzman Ronnie Price (who will probably come out and net 50 points because, you know, that’s what former Jazzman do to their old team).

Last night, while the Jazz were dishing out the pain against Detroit, Phoenix was lighting up the scoreboard at home against the T-Wolves. Dudley and Nash combined to score 53 of their team’s 124 total points, but ended up losing by three thanks to Kevin Love’s outstanding 30 point performance.

I don’t like to make predictions with this Jazz team, as they continue to look like a schizophrenic girlfriend who I both love and hate all at once; even so, the Suns run an energetic, fast paced offense, but they don’t play defense and, save for 7’0 center Robin Lopez and 6’11 forward Marcin Gortat, lack a legitimate inside threat. In short, Big Al and co. should have a field day in the paint.

The problem, however, is that Phoenix carries a nice collection of outside shooters, namely Dudley, Channing Frye and even Steve Nash. And since the Jazz are playing on the road, their ability to make an outside shot decreases by about 99-percent (or, in CJ’s case, about 152-percent, especially since he just played a really good game against the Pistons).

Victory is not unreachable (the Suns are stuck at the bottom for a reason), but Gordon Hayward must have a solid game, and Devin Harris cannot allow Nash to find his outside shooters (easier said than done). As long as Al, Favors, Kanter, and Milsap play BIG, Utah should be fine.

Then again, I wonder if the trade deadline will impact the Jazz’s overall team chemistry …

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Tags: Al Jefferson Channing Frye Devin Harris Dudley Gordon Hayward Paul Milsap Phoenix Suns Robin Lopez Steve Nash Tyrone Corbin Utah Jazz

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