The Utah Jazz (25-28) are far and away the hottest team in the NBA at the moment. The Jazz have won six games in a row - five on the road - and have suddenly become a sheer offensive force that has been blowing teams out left and right. The New Orleans Pelicans were the latest to fall victim to the Jazz, who demolished them, winning 133-109.
Five Jazz players finished with 18 or more points, and leading scoring Donovan Mitchell wasn’t even included in that list. Instead, Rodney Hood came off the bench and scored 30 points (12-14 FG) in just his second game back. Ricky Rubio continued his blindingly hot play of late with 20 points and 11 assists, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors both had 19 points, while Joe Ingles added 18 points on 4-of-5 shooting on 3-pointers.
They will now look to keep their hot streak going against the Memphis Grizzlies (18-35), who got absolutely trucked by the Atlanta Hawks last night, 108-82. It was an all-around sloppy night from the Grizzlies, who shot just 43 percent from the field (4-of-22 on 3-pointers) and committed a whopping 25 turnovers. The Grizzlies have now lost six of their last seven games, including four in a row since permanently shutting down the soon-to-be-traded Tyreke Evans.
Mario Chalmers wound up leading the team with 13 points in 16 minutes off the bench. Marc Gasol played a mere 19 minutes, scoring eight points with six rebounds. Even Andrew Harrison, who had been playing well of late, was mired in foul trouble and finished with just nine points in 24 minutes.
Three keys to the game
Jazz momentum - Utah are averaging 128 points per game over their last four and put up over 120 points against both the Warriors and the Spurs. They’ve won six of their last seven games on the road. And now, they’re set to face a Grizzlies team which has seemingly thrown the white flag on the season and will be on the second night of a back-to-back. The chances of Memphis somehow being the team to slow the Jazz’s purring offense look pretty slim to say the least.
Grizzlies offense - Memphis had absolutely nothing offensively last night against the Hawks, who are one of the worst defensive teams in the league. With Evans no longer with the team, the team can’t afford Gasol to be a completely non-factor like he was against the Hawks. But on the second night of a back-to-back against an in-form team, it’s possible Gasol may not be up for this game.
Backcourt battle - With Evans gone, the Grizzlies suddenly look pretty over-matched in the backcourt. No offense to the likes of Harrison and Wayne Selden, but they’re not exactly starter-caliber NBA players. They now go up against the Jazz trio of Rubio, Mitchell, and Hood, which the Grizzlies will do well to contain given how explosive they could be.
Matchup to watch
Rudy Gobert vs Marc Gasol - The Grizzlies will need All-Star-caliber Gasol to show up tonight to stand much chance of beating the red-hot Jazz. However, the Spaniard will face stiff resistance from another European big man in the Stifle Tower himself, Rudy Gobert.
Jazz projected starting lineup
PG - Ricky Rubio | SG - Donovan Mitchell | SF - Joe Ingles | PF - Derrick Favors | C - Rudy Gobert
Grizzlies projected starting lineup
PG - Andrew Harrison | SG - Wayne Selden | SF - Dillon Brooks | PF - JaMychal Green | C - Marc Gasol
It feels like every single Jazz starter is capable of lighting it up fantasy-wise as they take on a struggling Grizzlies team that won’t be too thrilled to be there. Perhaps it’s the perfect opportunity for Donovan Mitchell to get back on track. He missed the Spurs game due to illness and was also visibly limited on his return against the Pelicans. But prior to his illness, he had just put up another 40-point game against the Phoenix Suns.
As for the Grizzlies, it’s hard to trust anyone on the team to be a big-time fantasy player at the moment. But if it ends up being another blowout, Ivan Rabb could once again see extended minutes. The rookie big man had his first career double-double with ten points and 11 rebounds against the Hawks as he’s been getting more playing time lately.
As great as the Jazz have been lately, they will have to cool off at some point. But even though 7.5 points is a lot to cover on the road, the Grizzlies are on the second night of a back-to-back and don't seem to have the weapons to keep up with the Jazz. Take Utah to win and cover the 7.5-point spread.
The Jazz win lucky No. 7 in a row as they take care of the Grizzlies, 110-99.
This game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southeast - Memphis and AT&T SportsNet - Rocky Mountain. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm Eastern.