BY SAM LACHOW
|5-5||Last 10 Games||5-5 td>|
|102.9||Points scored per 100 possessions||99.8|
|104.5||Points allowed per 100 possessions||105.7|
|93.9||Possessions per game||93.6|
|45.0%||Field goal percentage||43.9%|
|Joe Johnson (15.0)||Top Scorer||Gordon Hayward (16.3)|
Projected starting lineup: Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors
New Commissioner Adam Silver might sue if I said that the Utah Jazz were “tanking,” but whatever language you want to use, the Jazz are focused on the future. While their 19-33 record is not as bad as some expected and they’ve won three straight games, the Jazz have an average offense coupled with one of the worst defenses in the NBA. Still, they should be somewhat content with their season given the improvements of Alec Burks and the skilled play of rookie Trey Burke since coming back from injury.
Despite their record, the Jazz has a lot of fun offensive weapons, and can surprise. This was evident recently when the Jazz upset LeBron James and the Miami Heat. They’ve moved center Enes Kanter to the bench and start a small-ball lineup similar to Brooklyn’s, with Marvin Williams and former Nets forward Richard Jefferson next to other former Nets forward Derrick Favors inside. The Nets, you might remember, traded Favors, the pick that became Kanter, Devin Harris, and a later pick to the Jazz for one Deron Williams.
The Nets and Jazz last played on November 6th, and the Nets won a 104-88 laugher in Brooklyn. But the leading scorer from that game was Brook Lopez, who dropped 27 points on 10-13 shooting in the win. They won’t have him tonight.
For Utah, Gordon Hayward is a player to watch. While Hayward has proven that he is a capable scorer and overall offensive threat, he’s averaged just 13.5 points per game and shot 34% from the field in his last ten games. Hayward’s matched up with a slumping Joe Johnson.
A win on the road against a bad team would be a good start to this six-game west coast trip. The NBA season is a series of momentum shifts, and one of the most important is how a team starts off the second half. It wouldn’t surprise if Deron Williams came out firing against his former team, and particularly his rookie assignment Trey Burke.