GAME TIME: 9:00 PM ET
Jazz: 21-15 (14-4 Home)
Margin: +3.4 ppg (+6.6 Home)
Last 10: 6-4 (margin +4.0)
Pistons: 22-12 (10-7 Road)
Margin: +1.0 ppg (-1.0 Road)
Last 10: 8-2 (margin +3.5)
Hmmm... Mountain region team with a dominant Point Guard. Tough to beat at home. A deep squad that is missing its best player. We're playing the Nuggets again. Ha-ha. Just kidding. Silly goose, we're playing the Jazz. You should see the look on your face.
Earlier this week, the Pistons ended their Sunday jinx. Maybe now they can end their garner-a-double-digit-lead-and-blow-it-late-against-the-Jazz streak. Once again, the Jazz will be without forward Carlos Boozer, though Paul Millsap has essentially replicated his production in his place.
In fact, power forwards seem to thrive under coach Jerry Sloan no matter who they are. Maybe he's gotten lucky, or maybe he has a Mike D'Antoni effect on the position. After all, he coaches players to a bruising style, leaving them free to foul as they wish. Food for thought as Carlos Boozer becomes a free agent this summer.
Tonight, Detroit gets the first major test of the small ball era, against a team it hasn’t beaten in three years. The Jazz are a balanced, deep team that gets it done at both ends of the court. Again, the Pistons encounter a team that is not at full strength. Carlos Boozer is a game time decision, and won’t be at 100% either way, Deron Williams is struggling with his game, and the Jazz have been this season’s biggest disappointment, aside from, well, the Pistons.
As the Jazz go, expect a lot of points in the paint, a lot of tough rebounding, and a lot of fouls. Even without Boozer, this team has shown that it can compete at a high level. One player to watch for is rookie center Kosta Koufos. The rookie out of Latvia Ohio State University (h/t Bill Simmons) hardly played the last time these two teams met, but has made a real impact since then.
If there is such a thing as having a team's number, the Jazz have Detroit's number. Winning here would be a nice exclamation point on a successful road trip.
Keys for Detroit:
Get to the line: Utah has a propensity to give up a lot of free throw attempts. Other than AI, nobody took advantage of this fact the last time around. We need more than one FTM from Rodney Stuckey.
Rebound: Without Amir in the lineup, Utah grabbed 17 offensive rebounds. Paul Millsap I can understand, but if Mehmet Okur puts up 26 and 12 again, I won't be happy.
A big night for AI: Last time, I predicted a big game for AI, and he delivered. We'll need more of the same this go around, preferably sans the 2-13 first half business.
Question of the game:
Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeed? He was active last night, but didn't play. We could certainly use him to stretch defense and distribute hard fouls.