When: 7:00 p.m. AZ time
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena
TV: Fox Sports Arizona
Radio: 98.7 FM/1400 AM (Spanish)
It will be hard to imagine the Suns being favored in any game the rest of the season with the injuries mounting. Phoenix’s competitiveness and energy was inconsistent before bad health struck and they are down four of their seven best players now. On the road against the Jazz, it could get ugly, but we will get to see Deandre Ayton get another chance against Rudy Gobert.
105.1 ORtg (28th) - 114.5 DRtg (28th) = minus-9.4 netRtg (28th)
Raise your hand if you expected to see Elie Okobo again this year. This is how ugly it’s gotten for the Suns on the health front — the rookie we never expected would be back on an NBA court this year played 20 minutes in a winnable game over the weekend because he was the best option available.
Besides Okobo, the Suns are also relying on Ray Spalding, De’Anthony Melton, Mikal Bridges and Ayton — that’s five rookies. It’s also time once again for the annual Troy Daniels show, only this time I’m rooting for Daniels because he deserves to get long-term security with a competitive team after two years in NBA purgatory, AKA Phoenix.
Specifically looking at the Jazz matchup, it will be interesting to see how Melton and Bridges handle Donovan Mitchell. Neither saw much time on him in the first game between these two teams, as Tyler Johnson and Devin Booker took the assignment. If the Suns can slow down Mitchell and be more competitive on the boards, perhaps they close the gap.
110.6 ORtg (15th) - 104.7 DRtg (1st) = plus-5.8 netRtg (3rd)
Wow. The Jazz are the third-most efficient team in the league per 100 possessions as well as the unluckiest based on expected win total. Somehow, they are only tied for sixth in the West. Expect them to come out ready to dominate to pad their playoff positioning.
After Utah’s win in Phoenix on March 13, Mitchell came off the court and yelled “that’s what I’m f****** talking about!” It was a cool display of raw emotion from the even-keeled Mitchell and indication of how badly the Jazz need every win.
They should have no problem. Utah out-rebounded the Suns 52-35 in that game and Gobert had Ayton’s number big time. The problem is, that’s not a lucky draw on Utah’s part. They are built to limit possessions, scare you into bad shots and close games with an egalitarian offense. The Suns can’t compete with teams that execute so well.
Unless Ayton pulls of a career night, there aren’t very many paths to a Suns win. Booker has shown that even his very best is not enough by itself. No one else really has enough experience or individual talent to change a game against Utah’s stingy D.
Prediction: Jazz 120, Suns 95