What: Phoenix Suns (9-5) @ Utah Jazz (10-6)
When: 7:00 p.m. AZ Time
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Watch: Bally Sports AZ
Listen: 98.7 FM
DraftKings Betting Lines: Suns -2, O/U 228.5, Suns Moneyline -130
The Suns are feeling good after some home cooking and a resounding win against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. While they honored the 22 tribal nations of Arizona, the effort they put forth on the court was caused for celebration. The team looked crisp, the ball was popping, and the offense was engaged.
Utah has been a surprising team thus far this season. They traded away Rudy Gobert. They traded away Donovan Mitchell. And they got better?! Moving Jordan Clarkson to the starting lineup, and adding Lauri Markkanen, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Kelly Olynyk to the starting five has made an impact on this team.
This will be the first of three matchups against Utah — they play them two days after Thanksgiving and again in March — and features two teams in the top ten relative to overall net rating. The Suns are +6.9 (giggity) which is 2nd in the NBA, and the Jazz are +3.4, good for 6th.
- Chris Paul (right heel soreness) is QUESTIONABLE
- Josh Okogie (right hamstring soreness) is QUESTIONABLE
- Landry Shamet (concussion-like symptoms) is OUT
- Cameron Johnson (knee) is OUT
- Jae Crowder (mentioned in trade rumors, still on the team) is NOT WITH TEAM
- Rudy Gay (finger) is OUT
Plenty of blue in Salt Lake on Friday. Classic Edition versus City Edition.
What to Watch For
First off, watch those 90’s Jazz unis! They’re fly.
It’ll be interesting to see this new look Utah lineup. The last time we saw a Jazz team without Rudy Gobert was the 2012-13 season. Their core has changed and they are still figuring what they have. They have a ton of draft assets after dealing both of their all stars, but they are scrappy and they love to shoot the three-ball. Utah is third in the NBA with 40 3PT attempts-per-game and 10th with a 37.7 3PT%.
A team that many believed was going to be in “tank mode” appears not to be. But the tide might be turning in Utah, as they have lost three consecutive games. Through their first 13 games, they had a net rating of +6.3. In their last three, that has plummeted to -7.3.
Utah will be looking to snap their first losing streak of the season. “It’s a grind,” Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk said. “We were worn out at the end of that trip in Philly and then coming back, and you get back at 6:00am East Coast time.”
Phoenix can empathize, having struggled through an East Coast trip themselves.
The Jazz will be ready. That crowd will be ready. Phoenix needs to be ready.
Keys to a Suns Win
The fourth quarter.
This game could be close; whoever can win the fourth should win the game. Jazz will rely on their shooting from beyond the arc to benefit the team.The Suns are currently ranked 20th in the NBA scoring 26.0 points in the fourth while Utah scores 26.6 and is 17th.
Deandre Ayton is always my primary area of focus and he’ll have his hands full with veteran Kelly Olynyk. He won’t dominate him with size, but he’ll surely have his motor running, forcing Ayton to be as active as possible. Will DA use it as an opportunity to match KO’s energy? Will the former #1 overall pick use his physicality and superior athletic ability to dominate the former 13th overall pick?
How about the Suns get the ball to DA in the 4th? He is currently averaging 2.4 points in the final period (5.8 in the 1st, 3.6 in the 2nd, and 3.5 in the 3rd). The Suns need Ayton to be a closer. And they need to focus on making that happen.
Thus far this season it has been a tale of two teams with Phoenix. On the road this season, the Phoenix Suns are 2-4, shooting 45.6% from the field, 36.8% from beyond the arc, and attempt 14.7 free throws a game. At home they are 7-1, shoot 48.5% from the field, 38.7% from deep, and attempt 25.3 free throws.
That’s right. The Suns attempt 10.6 more free throws at home. On Friday, they’re on the road.
This is my fourth game covering the Suns for Bright Side this season. Phoenix is 0-3 in my previous coverage (vs. 9-2 in all other games). I’m using reverse psychology here.
Jazz 114, Suns 112
When the game is over, join the Suns JAM Session Podcast as we discuss the game live on YouTube:
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