April 4, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) drives the baseline while defended by Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) during the second half at Energy Solutions Arena. The Suns defeated the Jazz 107-105. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Preview: Phoenix Suns(3-3) vs. Utah Jazz(2-4)

April 24, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) and small forward Jared Dudley (3) battle for position with Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) during the second half at Energy Solutions Arena. The Jazz defeated the Suns 100-88 to clinch a spot in the playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

The Phoenix Suns (3-3) are fresh off one of the greatest comeback in franchise history on Friday night after overcoming a 26 point deficit against the Cleveland Cavaliers and pulled off a 107-105 victory. The Suns won’t get a day off though as they will be going up against the Utah Jazz (2-4) tonight in Salt Lake City.

Thus far the Suns are 0-1 on the second end of a back to back but the good news for the Suns is that the Jazz are on the second end of their own back to back games. The Jazz got trumped in Denver last night 84-104. The Jazz are a struggling bunch right now after pulling off an impressive win against the Mavericks in their season opener, they have lost 4 of their last 5 games.

The Jazz despite their struggles are the favorite in this match-up by 9.0 points according to ESPN.com. The Suns will look to overcome that and build off their improbable win last night and will try to be over .500 for the first time this season.

Keys to the game: Suns

If the Suns are to pull of this win against the Jazz the Suns will need to shoot well from the field. The Jazz has good defensive presence inside with Al Jefferson and Paul Milsap however their best interior defender is 3rd year player Derrick Favors who comes off the bench. So it’s vital the Suns shoot well to keep the Jazz from loading up the paint.

The Suns must keep their turnovers in check in this match-up against the Jazz. The Jazz have been a less than mediocre offensive team as they are averaging 95.3 points on the season so the Suns can’t afford to help them out by allowing Utah easy baskets off turnovers. The Suns have been good in terms of taking care of the ball as they are ranked 10th in the league in turnovers per game however they did cough up the ball 17 times last night against Cleveland.

Keys to the game: Jazz

The Jazz need to attack the Suns interior defense with Paul Milsap and Al Jefferson. Opposing starting centers over the last 4 games has scored 18.5 points per game on Marcin Gortat and Jefferson may be his toughest match-up yet.

The Jazz also need to keep the Suns off the offensive glass as the Suns are 3rd in the league this season through the first 6 games in offensive rebounds per game. The Jazz need to limit the Suns second chance points as guys like Gortat, and Luis Scola thrive off of easy put backs; don’t forget about P.J Tucker who will snatch a couple of offensive boards right underneath your nose every game.

The X-Factor

The X-Factor in this game is stamina. Both teams are on the 2nd end of a back to back and with the Jazz playing in Denver last night and the Suns fighting tooth and nail back from a 26-point deficit, it’s safe to say both teams are tired. So whichever team can bring fourth more effort and energy in this game will most likely come out with the win. Both teams are an even playing field in that both teams had to travel to Utah for this game however the Jazz does have the home-court advantage.

Match-up of the night!

Tonight’s match-up of the night will be between Al Jefferson and Marcin Gortat. Gortat was awful the last time he played in Utah when the Suns need the win to stay alive in the playoff race; Gortat came up smaller than mini-me in that game. Gortat will look to redeem himself tomorrow night to get-rid of some ghosts that I’m sure still haunts him from last season when he let his team down in the biggest game of the season. Jefferson is one of the best post-up centers in the league and Gortat will have his work cut out for him defensively after playing 37 minutes in last night’s win.

Tags: Al Jefferson Marcin Gortat NBA Phoenix Suns Utah Jazz

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