by Harrison Porter | Unfortunately, I was spot on with the Jazz falling to the OKC Thunder this past Saturday. Maybe it was OKC’s revenge game after the NBA suspended the 2019-2020 season right before the tip-off against the Jazz on March 11th. Either way, we can all agree to move past this game and look ahead to the Jazz’s third seeding game against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are one of the strongest teams in the West and the Jazz will need their starters to carry the team for its second win in three games. Below are my Jazz Notes for Utah to get the W tonight.
Jazz Note #1: Increased Production from the Starters
The starters combined for 52 points, but no individual performance stood out amongst the five. Donovan Mitchell struggled all game and shot 33% while missing all of his threes. While 52 points would normally be a solid contribution from the starters, the Jazz are missing Bogey and are getting inconsistent scoring from their second unit. The Lakers are coming off a similarly disappointing blowout loss to the Raptors and its starting five combined for a meager 42 points. LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 50 points alone in their first game against the Clippers so they will certainly look to bounce back against the Jazz.
Jazz Note #2: It can’t be the Jordan Clarkson Show for the Second Unit
Coaches often talk about needing offensive players with multi-dimension skillsets because “teams cannot live or die by the three-point ball.” I think it’s appropriate to apply that idea to the Jazz’s bench– they cannot live or die by Jordan Clarkson having a good game. He put up 23 points and three assists on 47.1% shooting in the Jazz’s first seeding game, but only managed 11 points on a horrendous 23.5% shooting in the second game. The worst part about Clarkson’s poor shooting night is that he put up 17 shots, which accounted for almost 40% of the total shots from the second unit. While Clarkson is a great volume scorer, the Jazz need to find more scoring balance from the bench. The team needs to be able to count on other players like Georges Niang and Emmanual Mudiay to contribute if they are going to stand a chance against the Lakers.
Jazz Note #3: Raise the Roof on Defense
LeBron does not like losing. I can guarantee the Lakers will come out with more intensity and firepower than they did in Saturday’s game. The Lakers only shot 35.4% as a team against the Raptors, which was their worst shooting performance of the season. Their shooting will most likely improve against the Jazz and Donovan and company will have their work cut out for them on the defensive end. The Jazz need to emulate the Raptors’ effort and intensity on the defensive end of the floor if they hope to slow down the deadly LeBron and AD duo.
Overall, I think the Jazz will bounce back and make this a competitive game until the end. I ultimately see the Lakers having a solid shooting night and beating the Jazz 117-103 behind strong performances from LeBron, AD and Kyle Kuzma. Look for Spidey to bounce back with a strong scoring performance.
The game will be broadcast tonight on ESPN at 7:00 pm MST.
Featured image courtesy ESPN.