Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Lakers Preview

Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Lakers Preview

by Alma Bean

Feature Image: Photo by Scott G Winterton of Deseret News.

The Utah Jazz (37-44) takes on the Los Angeles Lakers (42-39) on the second day of a back-to-back for their final game of the season.

What to Look For

This doesn’t have big implications for Utah but for Los Angeles, this game could potentially decide if they’re locked into the playoffs or having to fight for their lives to be in the play-in. Los Angeles is currently seventh in the Western Conference and with a loss, they could potentially drop as low as the ninth seed. With a win, Los Angeles could move up to the sixth seed but would need a loss from the Golden State Warriors today. Realistically Los Angeles will be anywhere from the sixth to the eighth seed.

For this final game of the season, Utah will be focusing on one of two things, draft position and player development. If they focus on draft position, Utah will do what they can to gain the ninth best odds for the draft with a hard-fought loss. Their other two picks are out of their control, but they will hope for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers to lose to give Utah the 13th best odds and lock the 27th pick. Player development will come with the territory no matter the mindset, but Utah should put their focus on Kris Dunn and Luka Samanic. Both Dunn and Samanic recently signed deals to return to Utah for the 2023-24 season, Utah’s front office will want to see these guys excel going into the offseason.

Today also may be the last time a majority of these players are in a Utah uniform. Udoka Azubuike had his team option declined earlier this season, Johnny Juzang will be a restricted free agent, while Juan Toscano-Anderson will be an unrestricted free agent. These players will be playing to prove they deserve a roster spot, whether it’s in Utah or elsewhere.

Key of the Game

Finishing strong. The Jazz were able to finish at the rim at will in their previous win over the Denver Nuggets, shooting 32/58 (55.2%) within the paint. Ochai Agbaji displayed the ability to drive to the bucket as he shot 7/10 (70%) within the paint. He is so young in his career and should keep Los Angeles on their toes.

Injury Report

Los Angeles- Anthony Davis: Questionable (foot), LeBron James: Questionable (foot), D’Angelo Russell: Probable (foot), Dennis Schroder: Questionable (neck)

Utah- Jordan Clarkson: Out (hand), Rudy Gay: Out (back), Talen Horton-Tucker: Out (ankle), Walker Kessler: Out (concussion), Lauri Markkanen: Out (hand), Collin Sexton: Out (hamstring)

Where to Watch

Tip-off between Los Angeles and Utah will be at 1:30 p.m. MT on ESPN.

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