Utah Jazz (18-33, 11-14 home) vs Philadelphia 76ers (15-38, 7-20 road)
Tip Off @ 7:00 p.m. MST
Regular Season Series 1 of 2 (series tied 0-0)
Tonight’s game between the Utah Jazz and the Philadelphia 76ers is going to be interesting to see how it plays out. Both teams were projected at the start of the season to be lottery bound, and so far it still looks that way, but the Jazz have looked to be trying to play their way out of that lottery at this point.
They two teams come into tonight’s game on two completely different streaks. The Jazz come into tonight having won games over the defending champion Miami Heat, and then last night a 18 point win over the Los Angeles Lakers. The 76ers on the other hand, come into tonight having lost their last two games by a combined total of 88 points!
Philadelphia is looking to avoid the league record of 109 point margin of defeat in a three game span. It will be tough to do that tonight though, as the Jazz have beaten the 76ers eight straight times in Utah, along with 22 of the last 24 in Utah.
Key Matchup: Trey Burke vs Michael Carter-Williams
The Rookie of the Year race goes head to head tonight as the two front runners meet. Michael Carter-Williams is ranked first in nearly every statistical category among Rookies. Trey Burke is ranked in most categories as second or third. However, leading your team to a 45 point loss and a 43 point loss in two straight games might effect Carter-Williams a bit.
Trey has said that he wants to win the Rookie of the Year award, and this game will be a big hurdle that he will have to go through if he wants to win. This will be the first meeting between the two guards since they met last year in college during their Final Four meeting, a game in which Trey came away with a 61-56 win. Both players, however, struggled in that game as Trey went for seven points on 1-of-8 shooting from the floor, while Carter-Williams only scored two points on 1-of-6 shooting.
Don’t expect a poor output like that tonight from either of them. I think both players know how important it is to shine tonight.
Last night in their win over the Lakers, the Jazz bench was the key. The bench came out and scored 51 points. The bench needs to step up again and do those type of things on a consistent basis. Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans, and Enes Kanter have accepted their roles on this team and are producing well for the Jazz.
Gordon Hayward had a near triple-double last night. He didn’t shoot particularly well, but he did all the other little things to help his team win. When Gordon plays like he did last night, distributing the ball and crashing the boards, the Jazz play better. The Jazz also play better when Gordon feels more comfortable, and he feels that way when the ball is in his hands playing more of a point forward role, like he did last night. Look for more of the same from him tonight.
The Jazz’s confidence is riding high after these last two games, while the 76ers might be thinking they just want to get to All-Star break as quick as they possibly can. I know some Jazz fans might not like this due to “tanking” reasons, but look for the Jazz to head into All-Star break riding a three game winning streak.
Jazz 109, 76ers 91