Jazz And Suns Face-Off As Top Two Seeds In The West
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The top two seeds in the Western Conference face-off as the Utah Jazz travel to Phoenix to play the Suns.
The Jazz own the best record in the NBA at 38-12 but snapped their league-best nine-game win streak on Monday in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Suns meanwhile sit just 2.5 games back of the Jazz and own the league’s current longest win streak at six games after narrowly defeating the Houston Rockets on Monday.
Jazz Look To Hold Onto Top Seed In West
Wednesday’s game will go a long way towards deciding the top seed in the Western Conference. The Jazz lost their first matchup of the season against Phoenix and would lose the tiebreaker should they lose to the Suns on Wednesday night.
Though the Jazz would still own a 1.5 game lead over the Suns with little more than 20 games to play, a loss would significantly lower the team’s odds of entering the playoffs with homecourt advantage throughout the postseason.
“They’re a great team — coached really well” Jazz forward Royce O’Neale said of the Suns. “They play physically and aggressively, they play fast, so I think we’ve just got to match their intensity.”
The Jazz will have to shoot better against Phoenix than they did against the Mavericks should they hope to return to Utah with a victory. The Jazz converted just 27 percent of their 44 three-point attempts on Monday night en route to a 111-103 loss.
The team’s 12 made threes were tied for the fourth-fewest of the season while their 27 percent shooting was their second-worst outing of the year.
Suns Look To Continue Streak
As the Jazz look to get back to their winning ways, the Suns are hoping to continue their push towards the best record in the league.
As it stands, both teams are running away with the top two seeds in the Western Conference, with the Suns leading the third-place Los Angeles Clippers by a full three games.
Though the Suns’ current win streak is the longest in the league, it may be deceptive. Only two of the wins came against playoff opponents, and outside of a 37 point blowout against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the average margin of victory has been just 4.6 points.
However, the Suns do own the best record in the NBA over the last two months at 23-5.
The Suns, like the Jazz, are just one of four teams in the NBA that rank top in both offensive and defensive efficiency alongside the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.
The Jazz own the league’s second-best offense and third-best defense while Phoenix ranks seventh in offensive efficiency and fifth defensively.
The key matchup between the Jazz and Suns will pit veteran point guards Mike Conley and Chris Paul against one another. Conley is 33-years-old while Paul is 35 and both were selected to the Western Conference All-Star team this season.
Conley is averaging 16.6 points, 5.5 assists, and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 45 percent from the floor and 42 percent for the league-leading Jazz.
Paul is averaging 16 points, 8.8 assists, and 4.7 rebounds in his 16th season in the NBA while helping lead the Suns to improve on last season’s 10th place finish.
Paul scored 11 points and handed out eight assists in the Suns’ win in Utah while Conley added 16 points and four assist in the Jazz last loss in Salt Lake City on December 31.
The Jazz and Suns will tip-off at 8 pm MT. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.