Utah Jazz (0-7) vs Denver Nuggets (1-4)
Tip Off @ 7:00 p.m. MST
TV : Root Sports, NBATV
Projected Starting Lineups
PG- Jamaal Tinsley
SG- Gordon Hayward
SF- Richard Jefferson
PF- Derrick Favors
C- Enes Kanter
PG- Ty Lawson
SG- Randy Foye
SF- Jordan Hamilton
PF- Kenneth Faried
C- JJ Hickson
Both teams come into tonight’s match up struggling to start the season. The Nuggets also enter tonight without their starting center, Javelle McGee. Denver has tinkered with it’s starting lineup in the majority of their games so far this season, but McGee had started every game at center for the Nuggets. Hickson played center last season in Portland, so he could be asked to play their now with McGee out.
This is also a reunion game for the Jazz, as they are going head-to-head with ex-Jazzman, Randy Foye. Foye has started all 5 games this season for the Nuggets, averaging 10.6 points per game. Foye was known for his 3 point shooting while with the Jazz. So far this season, Foye is shooting 37.5% from downtown.
The Jazz come into this game needing a win badly. Coming off a road trip where the team went 0-4, the Jazz are trying to stay positive, but are recognizably frustrated with the way things have started off for them. Gordon Hayward has put up solid numbers to start the season for the Jazz. Hayward is averaging 19.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Hayward has shot the ball terrible from 3 point range so far this season, but so has the rest of the team. The Jazz, as a team, are shooting 23.6% from downtown. The Nuggets come into tonight shooting 42.4% from downtown as a team.
Key Matchup : Derrick Favors vs Kenneth Faried
Favors needs to have a game where he breaks out. On the road trip, Favors looked frustrated because it looked like he wasn’t getting his shot to fall. We all know that Favors is a beast, but he needs to come out and play like one tonight to give the Jazz a chance at their first victory. Tonight he will be matched up with the Nuggets “beast” in Kenneth Faried. We have seen Faried in the past really cause some havoc.
Statistically, Favors has had a better start to the season. Favors is averaging 12 points, 9.6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.4 blocks per game. Faried enters tonight averaging 7.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 0.4 blocks per game. Both players are shooting the ball about the same as Favors is shooting 42% from the field and Faried is shooting 40% from the field.
This is a game, like I said, that Favors needs to step up. I expect Hayward to have another solid game and Kanter to also play well. Favors needs to have that breakout game that we all know he is capable of. If he wins this matchup against Faried, the Jazz will have a good chance of winning.
So far this season, the Jazz bench play has been anything but good. The most obvious thing about the Jazz has been the poor point guard play. Tonight, John Lucas III will be matched up against Nate Robinson who is a good offensive player. So far, Nate is averaging just under 10 points per game in just under 19 minutes per game. Alec Burks should be matched up against Andre Miller who likes to try and back down his defenders. Miller shouldn’t be left open at all. He has not missed a 3 point shot this season, and is shooting 55% from the field.
Brandon Rush didn’t play again at Toronto because of soreness in his leg. Marvin Williams did play, however, for the second night in a row after rehabbing from an achilles injury. Like I have said before, the Jazz really need these 2 guys to get back healthy because if the Jazz want to have any type of success this season, the bench will need to be a big part of it. These 2 guys are a huge part of that bench, along with Alec Burks.
One bright spot for this bench unit has been Rudy Gobert. In games that Gobert plays at least 16 minutes, he is averaging 9.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. He is not going to give you much offensively, but he comes in and plays hard and gives you rebounds and alters a lot of shots. Who knows what might happen with Gobert’s minutes once Andris Biedrins comes back from injury, but hopefully Gobert continues to see the floor.
The Jazz are running into a team that looks almost as confused on the court as they do. Denver has not played very well to start the season. The Jazz have given up 102.5 points per game at home this year, while only averaging 95.5 at home. The Nuggets have given up 102 points per game on the road, while averaging 95.5 points on the road. Almost identical numbers.
The 3 point shooting is better for the Nuggets than it is for the Jazz, but on the road the Nuggets 3 point shooting percentage drops to 34.9%. While the Jazz 3 point shooting hasn’t changed much, whether home or away. At home, the Jazz are shooting 22.8% from 3 point land. Before the Raptors game Saturday night, the Jazz were giving up the least amount of 3 point shots in the NBA.
If the Jazz don’t let the Nuggets get looks from downtown, this game will come down to the wire. If they let them start shooting from the outside, the game could get a little ugly. I’m looking for a win tonight, because if it doesn’t come tonight, the Jazz might not get one for a little while with games coming up against the Pelicans, Spurs, and Warriors this week. I think the Jazz play well at home and finally get the first win of the season.
Jazz 99, Nuggets 94