What: Phoenix Suns (63-17) vs. Utah Jazz (48-32)
When: 6:30 p.m. AZ Time
Where: Vivint Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Watch: Bally Sports Arizona, NBA TV
Listen: 98.7 FM
DraftKings Betting Lines: Suns are slight underdogs on the road
For the Phoenix Suns, this is their last chance to play a playoff-caliber team without any real risk as their final game of the season will be against the lowly Sacramento Kings.
For the Utah Jazz, this game has a lot more stakes. Utah has their seed still up in the air so they want to get every win they can from here on out unless they want to face the Warriors in round one.
The Utah Jazz have been disappointing even by their own modest expectations and it has resulted in the Suns winning the season series through their first three matchups.
The only time Utah has defeated Phoenix this year was in late February when Chris Paul was unavailable. Tonight, however, the Suns have their full rotation (minus Saric obviously) at their disposal to throw at Salt Lake City’s finest.
Unless there are any surprise last-minute injuries the ten players who will take the floor for the tip off will be
Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder and Deandre Ayton for the Suns
While Utah will roll out a similar style lineup with Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale, Bojan Bogdanovic and DPOY favorite Rudy Gobert.
Jazz Suns games are always some of the best matchups around. Each of their first three games this season were relatively close and I expect tonight should be no different. The teams are truly very similar. Both are lead by their star backcourt with their star point guard being an elite facilitator and their shooting guard being one of the best scorers in the league. Both teams also rely on their forwards mostly for three-point shooting and defense while their center is a lob-threat rim-protector archetype.
While this is a simplistic view of both teams it does show that on a basic level, they are not very different.
However their performance this season has been far different considering how much healthier Utah has been and they are still 15 games behind them in the win column.
But the past is the past so the Suns should not take this matchup lightly as it could be their second round opponent if things go right for the Jazz.
The obvious key matchup here should be Devin Booker vs Donovan Mitchell. They are going to be the two best players on the court and will probably have the flashiest box scores when the game is all said and done. However, I believe the matchup to watch is the centers.
Deandre Ayton vs Rudy Gobert
These two have only played against each other one time this season due to injury and Ayton smacked Gobert in that game. Scoring 23 points on just 15 shots. Gobert will have to do his job and slow Ayton down for Utah to have a chance in this one.
I think the Jazz’ desperation and home-court advantage wins out today. The Suns do not have that much to play for and Utah has some momentum having won their past two games. Despite their disappointments, the Jazz have been a stellar 29-11 at home. It is on the road where their issues are glaring.
Final score: Jazz 112- Phoenix 106