The Portland Trail Blazers are preparing for a contest with the surprising Utah Jazz. Like the Blazers, the Jazz is struggling after a hot start to the season.
To get more information about the current state of affairs with the Jazz, we spoke to SLC Dunk site manager James Hansen.
1. The Jazz, like the Blazers, have been on a losing streak as of late. What’s the biggest reason for the recent struggles?
Hansen: Mike Conley being out has been the biggest reason. Utah is still scoring at a high level but they miss Conley’s veteran presence. The other reason is defense. Utah is currently the 25th ranked defense in the league.
2. Lauri Markkanen has been playing the best basketball of his career. How come he has improved so much with the Jazz?
Hansen: Markkanen has appeared to improve ever since leaving Chicago but especially since joining the Jazz. He appeared to take a leap in EuroBasket and that confidence has carried over in his time with Utah. It might be just a matter of him believing in himself and the Jazz’s equal opportunity offense where he’s shown an ability to score at all three levels.
3. What’s one thing people should know about the Jazz that they cannot find in a box score?
Hansen: Utah gives up a lot of bad turnovers since Conley went down, they’re also giving up a lot of offensive rebounds. Those two things are major reasons they’ve lost so many games recently.
4. If the Jazz win Saturday, what’s the reason why?
Hansen: The Jazz will win Saturday if they can get defensive rebounds. Offensively the Jazz are fine with the #4 offense in the league. It’s the defensive end they’re struggling and especially on the boards.
5. What’s your prediction for Saturday’s game?
Hansen: My prediction is likely a Blazers victory with the Jazz playing in a back to back with Mike Conley out. If Conley were playing, it would be a different story.