Utah Jazz (49-30) at Portland Trail Blazers (39-40)
April 8, 2017, 7:00 PST
Watch: KGW; Listen: Rip City Radio 620 AM
Blazers injuries: Jusuf Nurkic (out), Ed Davis (out), Festus Ezeli (out)
Jazz injuries: George Hill (doubtful), Raul Neto (day-to-day)
SBN Affiliate: SLC Dunk
In a surprise announcement this afternoon, Allen Crabbe’s status for tonight’s game changed to doubtful. Later, sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam stated that he has been ruled out.
A late addition to the Blazers' injury report for tonight's game vs. Utah: Allen Crabbe is doubtful with a sore left foot.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) April 8, 2017
The Trail Blazers will continue their march to the postseason when they host the surging Jazz on Saturday. Portland is looking to simply qualify for the playoffs, while Utah is looking to secure home court advantage in the first round. With the Nuggets victory over the Pelicans on Friday, the Blazers will be facing a considerable amount of pressure on Saturday night.
If the Blazers hope to squeak out a victory, they will have to find a way to stymie Rudy Gobert in the paint. The French center had a dominating performance against Portland earlier this week, racking up 20 points and 11 rebounds in Utah’s 19-point win. Noah Vonleh must find a way to stay on the court, as coach Terry Stotts has very few options to throw at Gobert on defense.
Portland’s struggles against the Jazz also extended to the perimeter, which led to a 30-point outburst from Gordon Hayward. Outside of Hayward, Joe Johnson helped put the game out of reach with his veteran presence off the bench. Utah will be receiving even more reinforcements in Saturday’s contest, as Rodney Hood will be active after missing Tuesday with a sore right knee.
The Blazers will have to rely on their 3-point shooting to overcome the talent gap in this contest, which is something that failed them earlier in the week. Portland was ice-cold from beyond the arc on Tuesday, but Allen Crabbe’s revival against Minnesota could be contagious amongst his fellow guards.
Along with outside shooting, Portland must continue finding a way to make small lineups work against bigger competition. Al-Farouq Aminu and Vonleh create an athletic frontcourt, but the sacrifice in size has led to some serious rebounding deficits. If Portland can’t secure the glass, they will have to force turnovers to create extra possessions, which is something that Aminu and Vonleh are capable of doing.
Portland does have a major advantage in this matchup compared to the last meeting, as it will be Utah that is playing on the second night of a back-to-back in this one. The Blazers will need to harness all the energy of the home crowd tonight to maintain their slight lead over the Nuggets for the eighth seed.