by Harry Porter | The Jazz will hopefully field a healthier team as four players sat out against the San Antonio Spurs. Taking on the Denver Nuggets will not be an easy task as the Nuggets currently sit in third place in the Western Conference. The Jazz are only one half game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder for sixth place and could potentially see Denver as a first round playoff opponent. Keeping that in mind, here are my three key Jazz notes for a win against the Nuggets.
Jazz Note #1: Keep a tall Nuggets team off the glass
It’s no secret that the Nuggets have a tall team. Their latest starting lineup against the Blazers featured only Monte Morris (6’2”) as the only player under 6’7. Mike Malone even played Jokic as a 7’0” point guard in the Nuggets’ first scrimmage against the Wizards. The Jazz are averaging 41.5 rebounds and slightly over 10 offensive boards for each seeding game. The Nuggets are averaging over 43 rebounds and almost 12 offensive boards per game, which gives them a slight edge over Utah. Hopefully the return of Rudy Gobert will firm up the Jazz’s attack on the boards for Saturday.
Jazz Note #2: Slow down Michael Porter Jr.’s scoring streak
To say that Michael Porter Jr. is on a hot streak would be a tremendous
understatement. Over the past three games, MPJ has averaged 31.3 points and 13 rebounds per game on a ridiculous 59.1% from three-point land. Porter put up 27 points against a box-and-one defense from the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers’ best perimeter defender, Gary Trent Jr., shadowed MPJ for every moment that he was on the floor. The Jazz will need a healthy Royce O’Neale limiting open three point opportunities for Michael Porter Jr. and forcing other Nuggets players to step up their scoring efforts.
Jazz Note #3: Donovan Mitchell needs to establish an offensive rhythm
Donovan Mitchell has taken on a heavy workload during his four seeding games since the NBA resumed action. He’s averaging over 35 minutes per game and putting up at least 17 shots per contest. Donovan is only shooting 39.1% from the field and the Jazz will need its talisman to raise his performance once the playoffs begin. The Jazz need Donovan connecting on at least 45% of his shots and establishing an offensive rhythm if they hope to stand a chance against the Nuggets. Aside from his shooting struggles, Donovan is averaging almost five assists per game and Utah will need him to continue to distribute the rock effectively to his teammates.
My prediction: the Jazz will end up beating the Nuggets 119-105 behind a strong defensive team effort and scoring from Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson.
The game will be broadcast Saturday at 1:30pm MST on TNT.
Featured image via Lineups.com.