Utah Jazz vs. Phoenix Suns Preview

Utah Jazz vs. Phoenix Suns Preview

NBA

Utah Jazz vs. Phoenix Suns Preview

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Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

The Valley will play host to a matchup between two top-four Western Conference opponents. Interestingly this is the first game between the Jazz and Suns of the season. They will play three more games against each other after tonight.

The Phoenix Suns are still playing as well as they ever have in recent memory. They’re on a casual six-game win streak and the only reason we aren’t talking about them more is that this is their new expectation. The last three have been without the play of their third-best player, Deandre Ayton. He’s been out with an ankle injury and will remain out of the lineup tonight. In addition to Ayton, Jae Crowder and Cameron Payne will also be out for this game. For the Jazz, injuries have become all too familiar in this recent stretch.

They’ve lost three of their last four games and will be without several key cogs in their attack. Donovan Mitchell will be out for a third straight game with a concussion. Rudy Gobert is day-to-day but the signs suggest he’ll be out tonight as well. Additionally, Bogdanovic and Whiteside could miss tonight’s action. Even with all the injury news, this matchup still has plenty of exciting elements to it. 

How Utah Can Win: 

Assuming Gobert in addition to Mitchell are out, the Jazz have a steep hill to overcome. It’s conceivable to think Utah could rest all the starters but I’d only expect that if all the names listed above are indeed out for this contest. It could be the Mike Conley pick and roll show all game long for the Jazz. They run the most ball screen actions in the NBA. One way the Jazz can attack the Suns is through a five-out small-ball lineup.

Without Ayton, Phoenix will lean on JaVale McGee as their primary big man. This means the Jazz should run the likes of Rudy Gay or Eric Paschall as their pseudo center. This combined with a flurry of pick and rolls or pops will stretch McGee out of the paint. If the Jazz role players like Ingles and Clarkson can make timely cuts to the rim they can capitalize off the natural advantage they’ll get from Conley/Gay screen and rolls. Watch out for Jared Butler, the rookie from Baylor. He’s a well-rounded combo guard and his flashes in limited time have looked fantastic. 

How Phoenix Can Win: 

The game plan is simple for the Phoenix Suns. If they run their style of ball, then they’ll more than likely win this game. Phoenix boasts the fifth-best offense in the NBA with a 112.1 ORTG. They also have the second-ranked defense with a 104.2 DRTG. Their All-Stars Devin Booker and Chris Paul are healthy so there’s really no excuse.

No Crowder and Ayton will most likely thrust McGee and Cam Johnson into the starting lineup. This will leave the Suns’ depth for this matchup a bit depleted but they still have more able bodies than that of their opponent. Phoenix has a very good chance of scoring a lot in this contest. Without Gobert, the Jazz defense is one of the worst in basketball. He single-handedly carries them to relevancy on that end.

Since the Jazz doesn’t have capable point-of-attack defenders on the perimeter, Paul and Booker will be able to get whatever they want all game long. The key will be making sure the Jazz don’t match their high-scoring offense by playing lockdown defense. 

The Spread Via FanDuel: 

Jazz +9.5 

Suns -9.5 

O/U: 222.5 Total Points

 

Final PredictionPhoenix Suns 119, Utah Jazz 105

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