Utah Jazz (13-26) @ San Antonio Spurs (30-8)
Tip Off @ 6:00 p.m. MST
TV : Root Sports / ESPN
Season Series (SAS leads 2-0)
The Spurs are the best in the west, again. As of right now, the Spurs hold the best record in the Western Conference and are coming into tonight’s matchup with the Jazz riding a 5 game winning streak and have won 8 out of their last 10. Surprisingly though, out of the 8 losses that the Spurs have on the season, 5 of them have come at home. They haven’t had much to worry about when it has come to playing the Jazz though. The Spurs are looking for their 4th straight victory over the Jazz and have won 10 of the last 12 in this matchup. Dating back to May of 1999, the Spurs hold a 25-2 record at home vs the Jazz, including 5 in a row, and during those 5 in a row the Spurs have averaged 108.6 points per game.
The Jazz know a little something about going into a game against a team on a 5 game win streak. They are coming off a big win at home over the Denver Nuggets, 118-103. The Nuggets entered the night on a 5 game win streak and were averaging 119.7 points per game. The Jazz were missing their leading scorer in Gordon Hayward, and could possibly be without him again tonight to start their 3 game road trip. However, the Jazz got a big outing from Alec Burks who put up a career high 34 points in his 5th career start. The Jazz will need another big outing from him if they want to have a chance to keep up with a very good Spurs team.
Key Matchup: Derrick Favors vs Tim Duncan
Derrick Favors is going to need to put out the same kind of effort as he did against the Nuggets to give the Jazz a chance tonight. Favors was a beast on both ends of the floor and finished the game with 19 points and 15 rebounds. He also shot a 7 of 12 from the floor for 58%. Favors has shot better than 56% in 11 games this season. In those 11 games the Jazz are 9-2. So far through 5 games in the month of January, Favors is averaging right at 56% shooting from the floor. However, in 2 games against the Spurs this season, he is shooting just below his season average at 48% from the field.
Tim Duncan is starting to get up there in age a little bit, and it has showed in his stats. Duncan is averaging about 6 minutes per game less this season than he has for his career. He has also seen a hit in the scoring and rebounding categories. He is averaging 14.7 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game this season. However, Duncan has had 2 great games against the Jazz this season. He has played above his season averages vs Utah this season, averaging 18.0 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. If Favors can replicate the game that he played Monday night, the Jazz will be in the game in the 2nd half.
Tonight is the first game this season that the Jazz will play on ESPN. The fact that they could again be without their leading scorer, and the fact that they are playing the the best team in the Western Conference, that doesn’t bode well for their first ESPN televised game. The Jazz don’t have a good record against the Spurs period, but it’s even worse in San Antonio.
Trey Burke will have his hands full against Tony Parker. Parker is averaging 22.3 points per game in his last 7 games against the Jazz. The Spurs also have a 14-2 record against the Jazz when Parker scores more than 18 points.
If the Jazz are without Gordon Hayward, the Spurs are going to match that with Danny Green being out tonight. Green suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left hand and is expected to be out a month.
If the Jazz can play the same style of game that they played on Monday night, they will have a good chance to win this game. However, the Spurs are not the Nuggets and the Spurs have one of the best defenses in the NBA. This is going to be a tough, tough game for the Jazz. Last game, the Jazz didn’t look like they missed Hayward all that bad. Tonight, however, I think they are going to be missing him a lot.
Spurs 107, Jazz 93