Utah Jazz (23-52, 15-22 home) vs New Orleans Pelicans (32-43, 12-25 road)
Tip Off @ 7:00 p.m. MST
Regular Season Series Game 4 of 4 (Pelicans lead 2-1)
The Utah Jazz are back in action tonight as they welcome in the New Orleans Pelicans, who could quite possibly be without their best player. Anthony Davis is listed as day-to-day with back spasms, which occurred during the teams most recent game, a contest against the Denver Nuggets.
If Davis doesn’t play tonight for New Orleans, the Pelicans know that they can still bit this Jazz team. Last week the two teams met up in New Orleans and Davis left the game in the first quarter with an ankle problem. The Pelicans however, built a lead over the Jazz without Davis and never looked back on their way to a seven point win.
The Jazz play better at home, as most teams do, and could take advantage tonight with Davis possibly being out. Guys like Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, and Trey Burke all step up in front of the home crowd, so tonight could be an exciting match up.
Key Match up: Trey Burke vs Tyreke Evans
Last game against the Pelicans, Trey Burke had the task of matching up with Tyreke Evans, who normally plays a small forward position. Due to the injuries that had impacted the team, Evans was inserted into the point guard position for the Pelicans, and the size advantage was evident. The first play of the game, Evans took Trey to the basket and muscled his way over Trey for the basket. Trey is 6’1″ and 190 pounds. Tyreke goes 6’6″ and 220 pounds.
On top of the size advantage, Evans has enjoyed playing the Jazz this season, putting up fantastic numbers. In three games, Evans has averaged 18.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game on 47.8% shooting from the floor. To add to those stats, Evans is averaging 2.3 steals per game against the Jazz. Trey on the other hand hasn’t put up nearly as good of numbers against the Pelicans. Trey is averaging 11.5 points and 3.5 assists per game. However, Trey is shooting 50% from field in those three games.
If the Pelicans decide to go the same way with Evans starting at point guard, Trey could have some struggles tonight going against a bigger defender. Trey usually plays a little better at home, so we will see how he handles things tonight.
The Jazz have dropped 16 of their last 18 games, and five in a row. Only eight of those games have came against teams with an above .500 record. The Jazz have had four days of rest, and their last game was in Utah, so there should be no excuses of tired legs. The Pelicans are currently in the middle of a three game road trip, however, they lost the first game of the trip in blowout fashion.
The same key to the game is pretty much said before every game, by me, by media, by Jazz coaching staff. The Jazz need to get out on the Pelicans early and take advantage of the Pelicans not having as much rest as the Jazz have had this week. As easy as that is to say, it hasn’t happened a lot this season. Typically when the Jazz are playing a team that has played recently and the Jazz have been off for awhile, they usually come out slow and not with a lot of energy. I expect the same kind of thing tonight, and with all the other teams in lottery contention playing tonight, there will be big lottery implications happening around the league.
Pelicans 97, Jazz 91