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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz Preview

Portland takes on the top of the west Jazz with three games to go.

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Portland Trail Blazers v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers (40-29) vs Utah Jazz (50-19)

The Portland Trail Blazers leave Oregon off the back of a 3-0 homestand. The final three games of the season will be the season’s biggest challenge facing three of the west’s top four teams, two of which have extra incentive to see the Blazers in the play-in tournament and the Los Angeles Lakers in sixth. The undermanned Jazz lost a close one to their potential first round opponent the Golden State Warriors on Monday night and will again be without starting backcourt Mike Conley Jr. and Donovan Mitchell against the Blazers.

Wednesday, May 12 - 6:30 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: NBCSNW, NBA League Pass or see games all season on fuboTV
Blazers injuries: Zach Collins (out), Nassir Little (out)
Jazz injuries: Donovan Mitchell (out), Mike Conley Jr. (out), Juwan Morgan (out)
SBN Affiliate: SLC Dunk

What To Watch For

  • Shooting. 50 points in a quarter is pretty impressive. You can only hope that the Blazers are able to take that sweet shooting to Salt Lake City because they’re going to need it. Regardless of Utah’s injury list, the Blazers will need to be able to replicate Monday night’s first half if they’re going to secure the win.
  • Rotation. Derrick Jones Jr. returned to the court against the Rockets. Perhaps Coach Terry Stotts saw the lowly Houston squad on the other side of the floor and was willing to give DJ another chance. If Nassir Little can’t go, we might be seeing more of Jones Jr. and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
  • Defense. While the Blazers scored 140 points against Houston, they also allowed 129 at the other end. That kind of defense isn’t going to stand up against the Jazz who have the firepower and the versatility on the offensive side of the ball. May has seen the Blazers lift their defensive prowess, they’re going to need it against the top of the west Jazz — even without Conley Jr. and Mitchell.

What Others Are Saying

Adam Bushman at SLC Dunk pays tribute to the Jazz role players who have maintained a high level of play while stars like Donovan Mitchell recover from injury.

While many other Jazzmen, particularly Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles, were essential to the team’s success, much of what they do is done every night. Utah specifically needed supporting cast members to shoulder an additional load to supplement the incredible play of Gobert, Ingles, and others.

Forrest, Niang, and Bogdanovic were those players. They stepped out of their comfort zone, assumed greater responsibility, and did the work needed doing.

The Jazz look to be sitting pretty for a while, according to Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News who discussed a recent future power rankings discussion between ESPN’s Bobby Marks and Kevin Pelton.

Noting that Utah moved up two spots from last year’s rankings, Marks observed how Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell are primed to be with the Jazz for the next few years and that most of the team’s rotation is under contract for next season.

That said, Marks concluded, “One positive is that new owner Ryan Smith proved this year that the team is willing to spend and go into the tax in order to assemble a championship roster. The Jazz rank No. 1 in management and have a Coach of the Year candidate in Quin Snyder.”

As the regular season winds down, the Jazz appear to be focused on finishing a stellar 72 games on a high note, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Coach Quin Snyder noted that it’s all but inevitable that players will be feeling worn down right now, especially this year — “it’s the nature of this season.” He said the team is doing what it can to “manage” the fatigue, whether it be practice and shootaround schedules and workloads, or adjusting rotations and minutes within games.

“We’ll do as good a job as we can trying to get rest and take opportunities when we can,” Snyder added.