Utah Jazz (19-34, 7-19 road) @ Portland Trailblazers (36-18, 19-7 home)
Tip Off @ 8:00 p.m. MST
Regular Season Series Game 3 of 4 (Portland 2-0)
The Utah Jazz are in Portland tonight to take on the Trailblazers, and both teams will be missing big part of their team. Portland will continue to miss All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who is out for at least a week with a left groin strain. The Jazz are missing forward Derrick Favors, who didn’t even make the trip to Portland with a right hip sprain.
Portland is currently on a three game losing streak, there longest of the season, and have lost seven of their last ten. However, those three games in a row were against top-tier Western Conference teams. Portland lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers right before the All-Star break. After coming back from break, they got off on the wrong foot and lost to the San Antonio Spurs, who were missing Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. They will look to change things against a Jazz team who is coming off a loss as well.
The Jazz came back from All-Star break and hosted the Brooklyn Nets. For most the game, the Jazz beat the Nets in every aspect of the game. A cold shooting and low scoring third quarter for the Jazz ended up being the killer for them, as Brooklyn fought their way back to take the lead and eventually pull away in the fourth. The Jazz’s loss Wednesday night was their first loss after heading into the break on a three game winning streak. Tonight’s game is another tough matchup for the Jazz who are in the second game of a tough three game stretch.
Key Matchup: Trey Burke vs Damian Lillard
Portland is missing a few big guys for tonight’s game, and Nicolas Batum is listed as day-to-day. Damian Lillard will be relied upon heavily to carry the team tonight, as he is most every night anyways. Last game out for Lillard against the Spurs, he came out and dropped 31 points in the loss. Lillard may be missing Aldridge, but the Weber State product has played well against the Jazz in the first two contests this season. Lillard is averaging 22.7 points on 54.8% shooting against the Jazz.
Trey Burke had been in a little bit of a shooting slump heading into the break, but last game out against the Nets, he looked to have gotten his shot back a little bit. Trey ended up with 14 points and 10 assists on 6-12 shooting from the floor. A much better outing than he had headed to break. Trey also said after his All-Star experience, that being selected to participate in the weekend has made him focused more and it showed the other night. Tonight, however, will be no easy task as he goes head to head against his Taco Bell Skills Challenge teammate.
With Favors out, the Jazz will have to turn to Enes Kanter to step up in his place. A stat that everyone will be looking at is that when Favors doesn’t play, the Jazz are 0-7. Another stat that everyone will be looking at is that when Kanter starts, the Jazz are 1-23. However, in Kanter’s defense, when he has had to start, the Jazz have not had a full healthy lineup.
Alec Burks should continue the roll that he is on. In the last three games, Burks is averaging 24.3 points per game on 21-35 shooting from the floor. His ability to get to the free throw line has been a big reason why his points per game average has gone up in the last three games. According to a stat ran by David Locke, in the last 10 games, Burks was getting to the free throw line on 18% of his possessions. James Harden was at 16% and Kevin Durant were at 15% for the season! Unbelievable stat and great work by Alec.
Even with Aldridge out for Portland, the Jazz are going to have a tough time winning tonight. Favors is missed tremendously when he is not on the court. Tonight, I see him being out being the key factor to why Utah doesn’t win this game. Without him protecting the paint, the Jazz are giving up way too many easy points in the paint. Portland should be able to get inside, but the shooting from the outside will be the dagger that puts the Jazz away tonight.
Trailblazers 105, Jazz 93