Jazz Get Little Rest Before Matchup With Portland Trail Blazers
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz face a quick turnaround when they host the Portland Trail Blazers tonight in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz suffered a 117-113 overtime loss Wednesday night in Phoenix before returning home well after midnight to prepare for Portland.
The Trail Blazers meanwhile had Wednesday off after falling to the Los Angeles Clippers 133-116 on Tuesday night.
Jazz Open Five-Game Home Stand Vs. Blazers
The Trail Blazers represent the toughest opponent during a five-game homestand for the Jazz. After back-to-back losses on the road, Utah will look to get back to their winning ways at Vivint Arena.
The Jazz are riding a franchise-record 22 game home win streak, but face a tough challenge hosting the Trail Blazers on less than 24 hours rest. The team hasn’t lost in Utah since New Year’s Eve when they fell to the Suns 106-95.
Portland is the only playoff team the Jazz will play during their homestand, setting up a prime opportunity to rebuild their stranglehold atop the Western Conference standings. After facing the Trail Blazers, the Jazz will host the Sacramento Kings, Washington Wizards, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Indiana Pacers before returning to the road.
With Wednesday’s loss, the Jazz lead on the second-seeded Suns fell to just 1.5 games but could rebuild the gap quickly over the final weeks of the season. According to the popular statistical projection website FiveThirtyEight, the Jazz are predicted to win the West by four games and own home-court advantage throughout the postseason.
Guard Jordan Clarkson is listed as doubtful with a sprained ankle, however starter Mike Conley was absent from the injury report.
Conley has missed either side of back-to-back games for the Jazz since injury his hamstring in early February. The guard scored 11 points in 35 minutes last night for the Jazz.
Trail Blazers Look To Improve Record Against League’s Best
Though Portland sits 10 games above .500 ahead of their matchup with the Jazz, they have struggled with the league’s best teams, especially on the road.
The Trail Blazers are 9-12 this season against projected playoff teams and just 4-7 when facing playoff teams away from home.
While Portland is 4-1 in their last five road games, they’re just 1-4 in their most recent contests against playoff teams away from home, making tonight’s game with a rest advantage an important opportunity to improve their record before the end of the season.
The Trail Blazers acquired guard Normal Powell from the Toronto Raptors at the trade deadline in exchange for Gary Trent Jr. and former Jazz forward Rodney Hood. Powell is averaging 18 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 assists while shooting 45 percent from the floor and 42 percent from the three-point line, while the team has won four of six since the deal.
Powell is listed as probably ahead of the game with a toe injury while center Jusuf Nurkic is questionable with knee inflammation.
The key matchup will pit All-Star reserves Donovan Mitchell and Damian Lillard against one another in Salt Lake City.
Lillard has established himself as a legitimate MVP candidate for the Trail Blazers averaging 29.2 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 38 percent from the free-throw line.
Mitchell meanwhile is averaging 25.8 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 43 percent from the floor and 39 percent from the three-point line.
The All-Star scored a game-high 41 points in Wednesday night’s loss but missed a crucial free-throw that could have allowed the Jazz to extend the game in overtime.
Lillard is coming off his second-lowest scoring night of the season after contributing just 11 points in Portland’s loss to the Clippers on Tuesday. Lillard’s season-low came against the Jazz to open when the season when he scored just nine points in a 120-100 blowout victory for Utah.
The Jazz and Blazers will tip-off at 8 pm MT, the game will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.