The Utah Jazz have been unstoppable of late. They have now won eight games in a row and have catapulted themselves to seventh in the Western Conference standings with a 39-30 record.
Their latest victims were the hapless Suns, who they demolished 116-88. Rudy Gobert continued his excellent form with 21 points and 13 rebounds in that game while Donovan Mitchell chipped in 23 points.
Utah will expect to continue their winning ways when they host Sacramento on Saturday, despite the Kings’ recent winning form.
After beating the Heat in overtime on Wednesday, Sacramento (23-47) beat an injury-ridden Warriors side 98-93 yesterday. Buddy Hield was excellent off the bench in the win, adding 22 points to go with seven rebounds and seven assists.
Three keys to the game
Can Sacramento score? – Utah’s defense has been unbelievable of late. They have held 15 of their last 16 opponents to under 100 points, and on their current eight-game win streak boast a defensive rating of 89.3, an incredible 11.3 points better than any other side in the league during this time. In contrast, Sacramento have an offensive rating of 101.7, better than just Memphis and Phoenix this season.
Fatigue – This will surely play a role for the Kings. On Wednesday they played an overtime game against Miami after which they had to fly from Sacramento to Golden State for a game on Friday. Following that they would have flown overnight from Golden State to Utah. This is a taxing few days, and will no doubt impact them in this game.
Stopping Gobert – Gobert has been a force at both ends of the floor in recent games, rather than just on defense as usual. Aside from a four-point anomaly against Memphis, he has scored at least 16 points in all of his last nine games and is shooting 68.4% from the floor in this time.
Matchup to watch
De’Aaron Fox vs Donovan Mitchell – Two of the best rookie’s from this year’s class will likely spend a significant amount of time on one another in this game. Mitchell has risen to prominence so much so that he has challenged Simmons seemingly unmovable grasp on the Rookie of the Year award. He has averaged 19.8 points to go with 3.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.4 steals in his first season in the NBA. Fox hasn’t been as impressive, but has still shown his capabilities and has had several good games recently. He is averaging 11.5 points and 4.3 assists a night, and prior to a quiet game against the Warriors yesterday had either scored at least 20 points or dished out at least nine assists in each of his previous three games.
Utah Jazz predicted starting lineup
PG – Ricky Rubio | SG – Donovan Mitchell | SF – Joe Ingles | PF – Derrick Favors | C – Rudy Gobert
Sacramento Kings predicted starting lineup
PG – De’Aaron Fox | SG – Bogdan Bogdanovic | SF – Justin Jackson | PF – Zach Randolph | C – Willie Cauley-Stein
Mitchell has been a big problem for the Kings in the two games between the sides this season. In the first, he went 14-for-19 from the field for 34 points, and also contributed three assists and three steals. In the second he wasn’t as efficient, going 7-for-15 from the field, but he still scored 27 points and dished out five assists.
The over/under points total has been set at 200.5 points, which is far too high. Utah will stifle Sacramento completely, and the Kings will be lucky to score 85 points. The under bet here is great value for money.
This will be another easy win for the Jazz. They have won their past five games by an average of 22.4 points, and this game could easily be a similar margin.
The Kings don’t have any particularly potent scoring options, and against what is easily the best defense in the league at the moment, they will really struggle to put a decent score on the board. Utah will run out easy winners against a tired Kings side with a 104-88 victory.
The game will be broadcast locally on ATTSN-RM and NBCSA. Tip-off is at 9pm ET.
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