Under normal circumstances, a game in Utah would be one of those contests in an 82-game season where you’d be ecstatic with a win but resigned to the fact that a loss is fairly likely.
But with the Jazz possibly missing chunks of their rotation like the Suns were Friday in Sacramento, this becomes a game where the Suns need to take care of business.
The Jazz missed starters Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur and key reserves Andrei Kirilenko and Matt Harpring during Saturday’s loss in Cleveland. That defeat capped a 1-4 road trip that followed a 5-0 start that included four home wins, with those four players missing the majority of the trip.
The Deseret News reported Okur traveled from Turkey where he was visiting his seriously ill father to the United States on Sunday and should be available. Williams (sprained ankle) and Harpring (ankle) are game-time decisions, and Kirilenko (sprained index finger) is doubtful.
But who really knows because NBA.com’s game preview says Kirilenko is probable, Okur doubtful and Williams’ status is up in the air.
It’s unlikely Okur spent a ton of time keeping in NBA shape since he had more important things to deal with. Leandro Barbosa will likely face a similar conditioning issue when he returns from Brazil as early as Thursday.
Williams and Harpring made their season debuts on the trip but were hampered by their injuries, so it’s unlikely either will be at 100 percent even if they do play.
The Suns, 5-1 on the road, will be riding high after blowing out Detroit last night and will have a fairly-rested Shaquille O’Neal because the Big Cactus played just 13 minutes before being ejected. Matt Barnes will also be fresh coming off a two-game suspension, giving the Suns a full complement of players aside from Barbosa.
It would be huge for the Suns to score a big road win while Utah is down because these teams may be fighting for playoff positioning down the road.
And in the end, of course, a win counts just the same in the standings no matter who the opponent is missing.
Oh, and before the game check out this goofy video on Suns.com of Robin Lopez on comics.