The Jazz are hosting the Memphis Grizzlies tonight at the Energy Solutions Arena. If you were being honest with yourself at the onset of this season, you probably feel the Jazz are about one game ahead of where they should be. They’ve done exactly what they needed to do in this young season, win at home. Let’s face it, they weren’t going to win on the road against the Lakers, Nuggets, or the Spurs, though, one could argue that the Lakers would have been possible, but not really likely for this young team.
So far in this young season, the Jazz are ranked in the bottom half of points scored, rebounds and assists per game and points allowed per game. And other than rebounding, the Grizzlies fare about the same (they are 7th in the league in rebounds/game.) However, their big star, Zach Randolph is on the shelf for 6-8 weeks with a minor ACL tear and they just completed a trade for the offensive-minded but seldom-used Marreese Speights from Philadelphia.
This is a game the Jazz need to win. It will get them above .500 for the first time since March 2011 right before the wheels fell off this proud franchise. If there is a soft spot in this early schedule, this is it. They’ve won two in a row (at home) of a three-game home stand and including tonight, 4 of the next 5 games are winnable with only the Lakers coming to town.
Raja Bell continues to struggle in every aspect of the game. The veteran just doesn’t seem to have it anymore. Meanwhile, Alec Burks is fighting for and earning those diminishing minutes. Coach Corbin has shown an early ability to adapt on the fly and come up with new rotations and combinations that work when something else isn’t working. The long-standing tradition of tenure over desire is fading into something of the past. When he’s seen lack of hustle or effort, he’s not been afraid to go to his bench. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are proving to be very good players with Favors showing his improved defense and Kanter grabbing boards at every opportunity as well as staying in front of his man on defense.
Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol will be the engine that drives the Memphis team. Keeping them in check while insisting the Grizzlies play Jazz ball will be the key to victory tonight. Watch for Favors and Burks to continue improving. The game will be on Root Sports at 7:00 PM Utah time. And don’t forget to Buckle Up Jazz fans.