Game #17 Preview: Salt Lake Probably Isn’t the First Place I’d Pick to Try to End a Losing Streak
Indiana Pacers @ Utah Jazz
Friday, December 4
9:00 PM EST
Salt Lake City, Utah
What do you get when you cross a streaking home team that has a good offense and an average defense with a scuffling road team that has a terrible offense and an average defense?
The Pacers at the Jazz.
Utah has won it’s last three games and six of its last seven. Their slow start out of the gates is over. And on the other side, we have Indiana, which has lost its last three and six of its last seven. Their slow start out the gates has returned and essentially erased any modicum of hope that the team’s earlier five-game winning streak may have given fans.
How should we expect tonight’s game to go? You do the math.
As for personnel, Carlos Boozer has reverted to the 20/10 beast he was two/three years ago (and he’s again doing in on 55+% shooting). You can say he’s playing for a contract, you can say he’s abandoned lower-percentage fadeaways … but whatever you say, the message is the same: Boozer is a problem on the block, and the Pacers have no one outside of Jeff Foster, who is reportedly again nursing a banged up back after his other-worldly 18-rebound game on Wednesday, who can even consider stopping him.
Speaking of unstoppable players, Deron Williams certainly won’t be phased by TJ Ford. And after Monta Ellis strung him up for a career high and Tyreke Evans abused him all night despite foul trouble in the Pacers last outing, TJ better hope that Jim O’Brien finally realizes that Dahntay Jones and Earl Watson need to be the ones tasked with guarding the other team’s best penetrator. Ford just can’t do it, for reasons that have to do with both his size and his technique.
Unfortunately, that leaves Ronnie Brewer as the guy TJ would need to defend. Yeah. Good luck with that. Thus, it seems TJ will be left on an island with D Will, where his best strategy might be finding an empty bottle, writing a note and sending out an SOS.
Throw in a three-point shooting center in Mehmet Okur (currently shooting a Troy-Murphy-from-last-year-esque 45.2% from long range) who will give Roy Hibbert fits, and the Jazz are just a really tough match-up for Indiana. Remember that time last year that you tried to never think about again when Memo dropped a career-high 43 points on the Pacers? Hate to break it to you, but it actually happened. And, as I recall, he didn’t even have a particularly good second half that night.
Even when the defense does force a miss, the Pacer bigs will need to keep Paul Millsap off the offensive glass. A silver lining for Indy in that regard is that Millsap hasn’t been getting to the boards that much this year, but he remains capable of creating 5 to 6 extra possessions for his team on any given night.
The last thing I’ll be watching is Utah’s rookie reserve point guard Eric Maynor. I admittedly stopped having the time to watch NCAA hoops like four years ago, so my opinion on draft stuff isn’t particularly educated, but I saw Maynor play quite a few times at VCU and really wanted to see him in a Pacers uniform. And his per-minute numbers in this young season while backing up Deron have looked very good, so it will be interesting to see him up close for the first time.