by Alma Bean
Feature Image: Photo by Rick Scuteri of AP Photo.
The Utah Jazz (35-39) takes on the Phoenix Suns (39-35) in hopes of winning the season series in their push for the play-in tournament.
What to Look For
Phoenix is a team that is looking to attack at all times and will find the open man on the perimeter. With their ability to pass the ball, Phoenix has shot 37.7 percent from the perimeter this season, which is seventh in the league. Utah lives and dies at the perimeter but has found its calling in the paint with Walker Kessler. For the month of March, Kessler is averaging 13.2 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.3 APG along with 3.0 BPG.
With just four games separating Phoenix, who is currently fourth in the West, and Utah, who is twelfth in the West, any win Utah can find to climb up the rankings must be capitalized on. With Utah’s remaining schedule, including tonight, all but one game is against teams who are in playoff contention. Phoenix also only has one game that isn’t against a playoff contender. Going down the stretch, each win will not only have playoff implications but will have draft implications as well.
With both teams currently on bad streaks, Phoenix currently 1-4 over their last five games, and Utah currently on a three-game losing streak, both teams are looking to leave with a win. The game is leaning in Utah’s favor as they are 22-15 at home while Phoenix is 15-23 on the road. In this year’s season series between Phoenix and Utah, the home team has been the victor each time.
Key of the Game
Stop Phoenix’s ball movement. Phoenix is third in the league in team assists per game (27.3 APG) while having Chris Paul, who is fifth in the league in assists per game with 9.1 APG. Utah will need to rely on 3&D rookie Ochai Agbaji and the defensive resurgence of Kris Dunn to apply pressure and stop the flow of the passing lanes.
Phoenix- Deandre Ayton: Out (hip), Kevin Durant: Out (ankle)
Utah- Jordan Clarkson: Out (hand), Simone Fontecchio: Out (foot), Rudy Gay: Out (back), Lauri Markkanen: Questionable (wrist), Collin Sexton: Out (hamstring)
Where to Watch
Tip-off between Phoenix and Utah will be at 7:00 p.m. MT on AT&T SportsNet.