Utah Jazz (24-54, 16-23 home) vs Portland Trail Blazers (51-28, 22-18 road)
Tip Off @ 7:00 p.m. MST
Regular Season Series Game 4 of 4 (Blazers lead 3-0)
The Utah Jazz are currently on a two game losing streak, and with only four games left in the regular season, the question becomes, is there really anything left to play for? If you ask the Jazz players, there answer is yes. They want to finish out the season strong. It is not about wins and losses at this point for the Jazz, but about playing hard and getting better. They can start trying to do that tonight when they welcome in a tough Portland team that has already beaten them three times this season.
The Blazers are fighting to keep their playoff positioning. Currently sitting fifth in the tough Western Conference, they are only a game and a half behind the Houston Rockets to try and secure home court in the first round of the playoffs. On top of that, they are going for their first season series sweep of the Jazz. There is a lot for the Blazers to still play for, and you can bet they will come out tonight looking like they are getting into playoff form.
More than likely, Enes Kanter should get the start tonight, matching up against Robin Lopez. Since Kanter should start, Favors will have the task of trying to slow down All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge is a very, very good post player. He can back you down and take the ball to the basket, or he can pull up for a nice jump shot. There is not a lot of things that Aldridge does wrong.
If the Jazz players are saying they want to finish the season out strong and work on getting better, this is a perfect game for Favors to do just that. Going up against one of the best big men in the game will be a real test. Favors needs to work on his offensive post moves against Aldridge, and at the same time, try and disrupt Aldridge with big time defensive stops.
It will be a great test for Favors, and if he can play big on defense, the Jazz are a much better team. However, Favors has only played in one game this season against the Blazers, and it didn’t go real well. Favors only played 21 minutes and finished with only nine points and three rebounds. He will need to play much better than that tonight.
The Jazz players and coaches have really said all the right things as the season winds down. They want to finish out strong. They want to get better. They want to go out and play hard every night. That is what they are supposed to say. Doing those things is a completely different thing. The Jazz will definitely have their hands full tonight.
The Jazz are at their best when they run the floor and get easy fastbreak points. However, if they get into a track meet with Portland, they will get blown away. Another key area for the Jazz to watch, they need to stop the Blazers three point shooting. You can remember earlier this season when the Blazers scored 130 points against the Jazz, most of those points coming from beyond the arc.
Trey Burke has only a few games left to make his case for Rookie of the Year. However, at this point in the season, a great game against Portland probably is not going to make that happen. He will have a tough time going against the reigning Rookie of the Year, Damian Lillard.
With Portland looking to improve their playoff odds, I see them coming out wanting to bury the Jazz early. If they come out bombing three’s, it could get ugly really quick.
Blazers 112, Jazz 89