Utah Jazz Weekly Preview

There are some times in life you are happy to be wrong.  Last week, the Jazz almost did that to me twice.  They did do it once.  The Lakers barely held on.  The Nuggets were outplayed from beginning to end.  I’m proud of this Jazz team thus far.  Coach Corbin really has them playing well.  He’s found a nice balance for the distribution of the minutes on this roster and players are really falling into their roles nicely.

LA Clippers

Location: Energy Solutions Arena – Salt Lake City, Utah

Date: Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Time: 7:00 PM   TV: Root Sports

With Chris Paul questionable for tonight’s game with a sore hamstring, it seems like Chauncey Billups will make the slide over to starter at the point guard position for the Clippers again.  He played very well Monday night at home against New Jersey and will be a handful for Devin Harris and the Jazz team.  The Clippers come to Utah in the middle leg of a back-to-back-to-back of a home-away-home set against the Nets, Jazz, and Mavericks.

What to watch for:

The highlight reel that is Blake Griffin.  Can Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors keep up with his 23 points and 11.4 rebounds per game?  Paul Millsap has been on a tear lately scoring and rebounding.  Can he continue?  Griffin isn’t going to get blocks or steals so it will boil down to the willingness of the Jazz players to be aggressive and keep playing as they have been.

Prediction:

This will be a fun one to watch.  Some of the nicknames for the new season for teams in the NBA include “Swat Lake City” and “Lob City.”  The Jazz are second in the NBA this season in blocked shots and Matt Harpring will be ready to welcome Blake Griffin to Swat Lake City early.  The Clippers are still the early season fan favorites and it will be close throughout.  Emotion and toughness will rule the night and it will take a few key stops at the end of the game for one of these two teams to win.  I feel it will be the Jazz making those plays against LA this week.

Jazz win.

Dallas Mavericks

Location: Energy Solutions Arena – Salt Lake City, Utah

Date: Thursday, January 19, 2012

Time: 8:30 PM   TV: TNT

The Mavericks started this season on a three-game losing streak.  As the defending World Champs.  They lost at home to Miami and Denver, then on the road to Oklahoma City.  Since then, they have won 8 of 11 games against Oklahoma City and Boston, but dropped games on the road to Minnesota, San Antonio, and the Lakers.  Dirk Nowitzki is averaging lows not seen in almost 8 seasons, but this is a veteran team that will right the ship soon enough.

What to watch for:

The Mavs could be playing tired after they arrive in the early morning hours after a late night ESPN tilt with the Clippers the night before in Los Angeles.  This will be a good test for the Jazz to see where they fit among the leaders of the West.  Nowitzki and Jason Terry still account for about one-third of the Mavs scoring so defending them will be key as the responsibility again will fall to the shorter Paul Millsap against Nowitzki and Raja Bell matching up against Terry.

Prediction:

This game will also be another fun one to watch, but I think they Jazz will be rested enough and since they’ve had a nice stretch of home games will be in their element.  The Mavs will be on their third of a four-game road trip against the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, and Hornets and will likely be tired from the lag of the previous night’s game.  If the Jazz can play tough and not be intimidated, they should win this game.  Then again, the Mavs have Lamar Odom, the Jazz killer.

Jazz win.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Location: Energy Solutions Arena – Salt Lake City, Utah

Date: Saturday, January 21, 2012

Time: 7:00 PM   TV: Root Sports

The Wolves will be in Los Angeles playing the Clippers the night before the come to SLC.  They are led by the nightly double-double man, Kevin Love, who is averaging 25.6 points and 14.3 rebounds per game.

What to watch for:

The Wolves have given the Jazz fits at home and on the road over the past few seasons.  It’s inexplicable, but they do.  This will be the third game in a row led by a power forward so Paul Millsap will once again have his hands full.  The new exciting element to this team is Spanish point guard Ricky Rubio who is averaging 8.3 assists per game and adds 2 steals to that line. It will be fun to see how he makes those passes as they all seem to be entertaining.

Predicion:

This will be game 3 in a 6 of 7 at home stretch for the Jazz while the not so good Wolves will be on the back end of a back-to-back on the road.  The Jazz should wrest control of this game early and control it though out.  I’m optimistic that Coach Ty Corbin will have the starters sitting most of the 4th again as he did last week against the Nets.

Jazz win.

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