Utah Jazz (12-26) vs Denver Nuggets (19-17)
Tip Off @ 7:00 p.m. MST
Season Series (Tied 1-1)
The Denver Nuggets come into tonight’s game as a dangerous team. Riding a 5 game winning streak, the Nuggets are averaging 119.6 points per game during that streak. During that streak, former Jazzman, Randy Foye, has been on fire. Foye is averaging a team best 18.7 points per game during the streak, and is shooting 55.2% from downtown in the last 3 games. However, in the 2 games this season against his former team, Foye has combined to score 7 points on 3 of 13 shooting from the field.
The Jazz are coming off a 113-102 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night at home. The Jazz were without their leading scorer, Gordon Hayward, who sat out due to a muscle strain in his left hip flexor. Hayward was sorely missed, as in the previous 3 games, Hayward was averaging 27.0 points per game, including a career high 37 points in a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Hayward is a game-time decision tonight for the Jazz. The Jazz will be missing him terribly once again if he can’t go tonight. In the 2 games against the Nuggets this season, Hayward is averaging 26 points, including 30 points and 13 rebounds in their win on the road in Denver.
Key Matchup : Marvin Williams vs Kenneth Faried
The matchups in this game are going to be pretty even for the most part. This particular matchup however, has some advantages and disadvantages for both teams.
Marvin has played in the starting lineup at home for 13 games. In that time, the Jazz have a 7-6 record. In the 2 games against the Nuggets, Marvin has averaged 8.5 points per game, but has been shooting 50% from the field. Faried against the Jazz this season is putting up 11.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.
The interesting thing about this matchup is how each player looks to have some kind of an advantage on the offensive end. Faried is a beast and on offense, he can take Marvin down low. On top of that, Faried can rebound better than Marvin can and will have that advantage over him. However, on the other end, Faried wants to be able to play post up defense on the other team’s power forward. With Marvin playing a stretch 4 type of role, it will force Faried to come away from the basket on defense. Marvin is shooting 40% from 3 point range this season and if Faried doesn’t come out on him, Marvin will make him pay from deep.
The other thing that bringing Faried away from the basket does, is it opens it up down low for Favors. If Faried is out guarding Marvin on a wing or up at the top of the key, it gives Favors that opportunity to make a move one on one with his defender. This matchup will be interesting to watch and see what comes of it. Hopefully Marvin can hold his ground.
The Nuggets are going to be without former Utah Ute, Andre Miller, who is away from the team due to a disagreement with head coach Brian Shaw. His name has been brought up in trade rumors the past couple of weeks and looks to be on his way out in Denver. Also, Denver was without Wilson Chandler (groin), Anthony Randolph (ankle), Danillo Gallinari (knee), and JaVale McGee (fractured left leg) during their game on Saturday night. Darrell Arthur also left during the 3rd quarter Saturday night due to a left groin injury.
As of Sunday, Hayward went through team stretching at the beginning of practice according to Deseret News Jazz Beat Writer Jody Gennessey. He also noted that after the stretching, Hayward left and did not participate in the teams contact drills. With Hayward being a game time decision, this game is really hard to judge. If Hayward plays, the Jazz have a good chance to win. In my opinion, if Hayward can’t go, the Jazz chances of winning are pretty slim.
Because Gordon did not participate in practice on Sunday, I am going to assume that he doesn’t play tonight. I’m sure we will find out more after the Jazz’s morning shootaround on Monday morning. With the way the Nuggets have been scoring during their 5 game win streak, and to see how badly the Jazz need Hayward to help them win, I am going to predict that the Jazz will have a struggle on their hands tonight.
Nuggets 112, Jazz 92