Utah Jazz (24-54, 8-31 road) @ Denver Nuggets (35-44, 21-18 home)
Tip Off @ 7:00 p.m. MST
Regular Season Series Game 4 of 4 (Jazz lead 2-1)
The Utah Jazz come into tonight after another loss last night. The Jazz failed to put points on the board, and are now 1-24 against the Western Conference when they fail to put over 100 points on the board. The Jazz decided to go with the “Core Five” as the starting lineup with Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter. For the most part in the first half, the lineup worked. They will look to try and rebound tonight when they visit the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets are coming into tonight having won two straight games, and are an above .500 team in the month of April. The Nuggets last game was on Thursday night when they visited the Golden State Warriors in a game where Denver hit a game winning shot with 0.5 seconds left on the clock to seal it. The Nuggets are hoping to keep up their strong play, but the Jazz have other plans. In three meetings this season, the Jazz have won two of them.
Key Matchup: Derrick Favors vs Kenneth Faried
Faried is coming off a huge 18 points and 17 rebound performance against the Warriors. Faried also hit the game winner with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. However, in three games this season against the Jazz, Faried has not been able to get going. Averaging 11.0 points and 9.7 rebounds against the Jazz, he hasn’t had much success.
However, in the month of April, the Nuggets have played in five games, and the Manimal is on a tear. This month he is averaging 21.6 points and 12.8 rebounds per game, and because of it, the Nuggets have a winning record this month. The wins haven’t come against easy teams either. They have wins over the Warriors and the Houston Rockets this month.
With Marvin Williams battling some injuries, there is a very good possibility that Favors could get moved to the power forward position, while Enes Kanter gets the start alongside him. Favors could be in store for a big night if things go the way they have in the previous three games against Denver. He is averaging 19.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game against the Nuggets.
As far as the defensive end is concerned, Favors could have the upper hand. Favors has a size advantage over Faried, and if Faried wants to try and back down Favors to take the ball to the rim, Favors is fantastic defensively around the rim. If the Nuggets get going on some fastbreak opportunities, Faried is terrific on running with the break and getting easy baskets. Both guys have a lot of different aspects of their game that can beat you, it’s just a matter of who does it better tonight.
When you look at the rosters, the Nuggets have injuries everywhere. Ty Lawson has been out with a sprained left ankle, Nate Robinson has been out with a sprained ACL, J.J. Hickson is out with a torn ACL, Danilo Gallinari has been out all season after ACL surgery, and Wilson Chandler has been out with a strained groin. Denver used an eight man rotation in their win over the Warriors. On the Jazz side of things, they may be only short Marvin Williams.
The Jazz have been able to take two out of three games so far from the Nuggets, one of which was in Denver. In both the Jazz wins this season, they have had a player score over 30 points. In a win in Denver, Gordon Hayward finished with 30 points on 61% shooting. In the Jazz’s other win at home, Alec Burks set a new career high, finishing with 34 points on 68% shooting. However, in the Jazz’s loss to Denver, the high point man for the Jazz finished with 21 points.
Trey Burke has averaged 14.0 points and 9.0 assists in two games against the Nuggets this year. In both contests, he was matched up against Lawson. Tonight, it will be interesting to see how he does matching up against Aaron Brooks, who will start for Lawson.
With the Nuggets having won two in a row, being on their home court, and having momentum after beating a good Warriors team on the road, they should have a lot of confidence going into tonight. The Jazz, on paper, have a better team right now. With as injured as the Nuggets are, the Jazz should be able to go into Denver looking for a win. However, that isn’t something I am planning on, rather than hoping for.
Nuggets 114, Jazz 93