Portland Trail Blazers (11-11) vs Utah Jazz (14-11)
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City in the second game of a very brief two-game road trip. The Blazers enter this game hoping to not come up empty on the road following a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Blazers have been in a free fall recently, as losers of eight of their last ten contests. They hope to turn around their luck against a Jazz team that has came back down to Earth following a scorching 10-3 start.
The Jazz come into this contest as winners of two straight, but that win streak comes right off the tail end of a five-game skid. This marks the fourth game of a six game home stand for the Jazz where they look to pick up their third win of the stretch.
Trail Blazers vs. Jazz - Saturday, December 3 - 6:00 p.m. PT
How to watch on TV: Root Sports Plus, NBA League Pass
Blazers injuries: Damian Lillard (out), Gary Payton II (out), Keon Johnson (Out), Nassir Little (out), Josh Hart (doubtful), Drew Eubanks (questionable)
Jazz injuries: Mike Conley (out), Rudy Gay (out), Johnny Juzang (out)
SBN Affiliate: SLC Dunk
What To Watch For
No Mike Conley. The veteran point guard for the Jazz has not played since getting injured early in the last matchup between these two teams. Conley has averaged 7.9 assists so far this season, and was a big part of the Jazz’s shocking start to the season. Since Conley’s injury the Jazz have averaged 25.9 assists per game, which would rank them 11th in the league currently. That is still a good number, but it is a tick down from their 27.6 assists per game with Conley, which would rank them 6th. The Jazz are a team without a definitive number one option, and as such rely on moving the ball to get the best possible shots. If the Blazers can key in on stopping the ball popping around the court, they can exploit the lack of a true point guard getting heavy minutes on the Jazz roster.
Anfernee Simons. Simons has picked up his scoring when Damian Lillard misses time. However in his last few games he has struggled with some inefficiency. With Simons shooting 6-18, 4-14, and 9-22 in his last five games, all coming in losses, it’s clear that Simons is an incredibly important part of what makes this Blazers offense click. If he can have another game like the 37 or 38 point scoring outbursts that mark the other two games in his last five, the Jazz will have a tough time scoring down the humming Blazers offense.
Crashing the glass. The Jazz rebound the ball at a high level, ranking 11th in the league in total rebounds and 8th in offensive boards. The Blazers have players who contribute heavily on the glass, Nurkic specifically ranks 11th in the league. However, with Josh Hart and Drew Eubanks both listed on the injury report, rebounding from other sources becomes that much more important. If Nurkic can have a massive rebounding game and the rest of the team can help out the Blazers can hope to make up the difference and stop the Jazz from creating extra opportunities on the offensive boards.
What Others Are Saying
SLC Dunk’s Calvin Chappell highlights Walker Kessler’s efforts in the last win for the Jazz.
Walker Kessler had the best game of his young career, scoring 20 points on 7-7 shooting and contributing 11 rebounds and two blocks. Kessler is full of endless effort; tonight, he was rewarded for that.
Markkanen’s stock continues to rise at an insanely high clip. If his play remains consistent, he will have a legitimate claim for the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award and a possible invitation to the NBA All-Star game, which will be held in Salt Lake City.
The Pacers had no answer for Markkanen and company, and looked outmanned as the Jazz imposed their will all night. As the contest progressed, the Pacers’ body language looked defeated, which prompted rapid boarding on the team plane out of Utah.
Our Game Day discussion thread opens an hour before tip-off.