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Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz Game Preview: Big Trouble

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Will the Suns be able to get a much needed win against a lesser opponent at home?

Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (28-23) vs. Utah Jazz (17-32)

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix, AZ

When: Friday, February 6th. 7:00 p.m. Locally (9:00 p.m. EST)

Watch: Fox Sports AZ (Locally) / NBA League Pass

After a very disappointing road game against the Portland Trail Blazers last night, the Suns will take on the Utah Jazz at home tonight in a back-to-back in Phoenix.

Speaking of back-to-backs, the Suns are currently only 3-7 this season on the second games...with one of those losses against, you guessed it, the Utah Jazz.  Of course, the first time the Suns played the Jazz, it was only the third game of the season and it was at their place.  This time, at least, the Suns will face them in front of their home crowd, and with a team that has developed much more chemistry together.

But still, despite Utah's underwhelming record of 17-32, the Jazz are another one of those teams that Phoenix doesn't match up well against.  They are big, and can gobble up rebounds and score in the low post...two things that the Suns have shown that they have a lot of trouble combating against.

While the Suns have a max-ish player in Eric Bledsoe who is averaging around 17 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds per game, The Jazz are led by their own max player in Gordon Hayward, whose per game average of 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists is proving to be everything Utah had hoped for and more.

But perhaps the real story for the Jazz this season has been the emergence of second-year center Rudy Gobert, who has become a human eraser in the low post, averaging over 2 blocks per game, to go along with his 7 points and 7 rebounds in just 21 minutes, on average...and he isn't even their starting center.

Make no mistake, the Suns will have their work cut out for them tonight in what is sure to be a much tougher game than most fans would probably imagine...Especially with the likely absence of Alex Len who sprained his right ankle pretty severely last night.  Let's just hope that Phoenix comes out on top when the final buzzer sounds.

Tale of the Tape


Probable Starting Lineups

Team
Suns
Jazz
PG
Eric Bledsoe
Dante Exum
SG
Goran Dragic
Joe Ingles
SF
P.J. Tucker
Gordon Hayward
PF
Markieff Morris
Derrick Favors
C
Brandan Wright
Enes Kanter


What To Watch For

  • Big Trouble - The Jazz have a scary trio of big men who play physical, score, rebound, and block shots...depending on who happens to be playing at the time.  Starting center Enes Kanter is 6' 11"  250 lbs, and uses his big, strong frame as a potent inside scorer and a good rebounder.  He is backed up by the 7' 2" Rudy Gobert who sports a 7' 9" wingspan and can block shots better than anyone (more on that below).  In addition, the Jazz have the uniquely talented Derrick Favors - a big, strong, long, and athletic power forward who is 6' 10" with a 7' 4" wingspan.  The Suns are going to have to keep Utah's big men out of the paint, and off the glass in order to get a win tonight.
  • Block Party - Speaking of big men, tonight's game will feature some of the best shot blockers in the NBA. Rudy Gobert is currently 5th in the league in blocked shots per game at 2.1, but he's 1st on a per 36 basis, blocking an incredible 3.5 shots. By the way, our own Brandan Wright and Alex Len are no slouches in that department either...Both are currently averaging 2.7 blocks per 36 minutes...tied for the 6th best in the league. Although Len won't be playing, you can still expect more denials and rejections than a homecoming dance tonight.
  • Fast and Furious - The Suns are the 4th highest scoring team in the league, and the second in pace only to the Golden State Warriors.  The Jazz, on the other hand, are not a fast or high scoring team whatsoever.  They are third from the bottom in pace, and score the sixth lowest points per game.  The Suns need to counter Utah's big, physical game with their lightning-fast scoring ability and run the Jazz out of the gym.  What Utah has in big men, the Suns have in guards.  Phoenix needs to dominate the back-court match-ups and push the ball consistently to use their strength to their advantage.

Prediction

The Suns really need to win this game tonight against a lesser opponent on their home court.  Unfortunately, with Alex Len out due to an ankle injury, and the Suns playing the second game of a back-to-back, I don't think it happens.

Remember, the Suns lost to the Jazz the last time they played them on a back-to-back, earlier this season, and they were beaten by 27 points!  All things considered, I'm scared.

I hope they prove me wrong...I really do.

Suns 95, Jazz 103