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Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz Preview

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It’s a road divisional match up as the Blazers try to find their footing in Salt Lake City against the Jazz.

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NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Trail Blazers (28-19) at Utah Jazz (26-21)

Monday, January 21, 2019 - 6:00 p.m. PT
Blazers injuries: None
Jazz injuries: Ricky Rubio (questionable), Dante Exum (out), Raul Neto (out), Thabo Sefolosha (out), Tony Bradley (out)
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
How to stream: YouTube Live TV, Playstation Vue, Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, NBA League Pass (outside of Portland)
Radio: 620 AM
SBN Affiliate: SLC Dunk

The road has not been kind to the Portland Trail Blazers, who seek to right the ship in a pivotal inter-divisional matchup against the Utah Jazz.

Last time out, coach Terry Stotts netted his 300th win as Blazers coach in a 128-112 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans at home. Jake Layman became a citywide celebrity with a 20-point second quarter, and the Blazers got an overall strong team performance to overcome the Pelicans.

The Jazz come into this as hot as anyone in basketball, winners of their last six and eight of their last nine. Donovan Mitchell’s 24 points led the way in their last game, a 115-99 win over the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers.

What to watch for

  • Hit the Open Shot. The Jazz are a defense-first squad, ranking third in the NBA in points allowed at 104.9 per contest. Solid scoring opportunities will be few and far between, so the Blazers need to make the most of them.
  • Controlling the Paint. The lead defensive presence for the Jazz is the consummate Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Rudy Gobert. Last time against the Blazers on December 25th, Gobert had seven blocks in a Jazz win. Portland needs to be more creative in forcing Gobert out of his comfort position on the low block. On the other side of the floor, preventing Gobert from asserting control of the basket will be key for Jusuf Nurkic and Al-Farouq Aminu.
  • The Three is the Key. In their last two losses to the Jazz, the Blazers shot just 31.4% from three total (19-of-55). CJ McCollum was just 1-of-6 in the two games and couldn’t find space to operate behind the arc. If Portland wants to get above the 100-point mark against Utah for the first time this season, the long shot will be how it gets done.

What they’re saying

hansenjames of SLC Dunk gives his reasons why the Jazz should stay out of the upcoming trade flurry:

The upcoming free agency market is filled with a lot of options for the Jazz. Making a trade ensures a prospect now, but you have to give up assets for it. If you can sign the right player this offseason, you don’t give up anything while being better established for the future.

Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune had some fun at the expense of the Cleveland Cavaliers:

So that the Jazz were able to score against Cleveland is not a surprise, and honestly, you can get really technical and point out that the Jazz didn’t play that well offensively. But it’s hard to say how much that matters, given that the Jazz had a lead of 38 points before the end of the third quarter.