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Preview: The Really Bad Phoenix Suns take on the Pretty Good Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz are missing two starters and they’re still probably going to beat up on the Phoenix Suns.

NBA: Preseason-Phoenix Suns at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns (6-14) at Utah Jazz (13-9)

When: 7:00 PM AZ Time

Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT

Watch: FoxSports Arizona

Listen: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM

The good news for the Phoenix Suns is that they get to catch the Utah Jazz on the second night of a back-to-back. The bad news is that the Jazz have won six of their last seven, including a $$-$$ defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers last night. The worst news is that they are still the Phoenix Suns.

This is a team that is just not playing basketball well. If the eye test hasn’t told you that (get your eyes checked first), the following rankings ought to make it crystal clear. The Suns are:

  • 24th in O-Rating (scoring 102.9 points per 100 possessions)
  • 28th in D-Rating (allowing 109.6 points per 100 possessions)
  • 20th in Field Goal Percentage (44.2%)
  • 24th in Three Point Percentage (33.1%)
  • 26th in Opponent Field Goal Percentage (46.3%)
  • 29th in Opponent Three Point Percentage (39.2%)
  • 29th in Assists per game (18.6)
  • 25th in Turnover Percentage (13.8%)

There are two things this team does well: rebound and run. The Suns are near the top of the league in rebounds per game and defensive rebound percentage and they leade the league in pace. The problem is that rebounds and running by themselves don’t win games.

Phoenix’s strongest play of the year has come in fits and starts. We have yet to see anything like sustainable mediocrity — never mind excellence — in the 20 games they have played so far this year. I haven’t given up hope on the Suns showing signs of improvement over the course of the next 62 games, but I won’t be holding my breath either.

All of this is to say, I’m not terribly bullish on Phoenix winning this game on the road against the Jazz, or really any of the remaining games on their schedule. The Jazz themselves are a youngish team, but about 3 years ahead of Phoenix in terms of player development and light years ahead of them in terms of sophistication. They’re coming off a pair of .500ish seasons and looking to take a leap into the upper reaches of the Western Conference. They might not hang with the Warriors, Clippers or Spurs, but they could contend for a 4th or 5th seed in the playoffs.

The Jazz will likely be without starting point guard George Hill (toe injury) and definitely be missing power forward Derrick Favors (knee contusion). Utah will be fine though. The Suns will be without small forward TJ Warren (head injury) and any semblance of an offensive scheme (poor coaching and execution).

I haven’t given up hope on seeing some improvement between now and when the kids take their summer vacation. There is still a lot of youth and promise on this squad. But if you’re expecting this Suns team to win any of their games right now, you haven’t been paying attention.

Jazz win - 108-96.

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