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-USA TODAY Sports

Game Preview: Utah Jazz(13-10) vs. Phoenix Suns(8-15)

April 24, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors (15) blocks the attempted dunk of Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) during the first half at Energy Solutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Suns are preparing for the Utah Jazz who are coming to town tonight to face off against the Suns in downtown Phoenix. The Suns finally snapped their 7 game losing streak by beating one of the best teams in the league in the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night and they will hope to earn back to back wins for the first time since they beat the Portland Trail Blazers then the New Orleans Hornets in late November.

Heading into tonight’s game the point spread is even. The Utah Jazz currently has no one on the injured list while the Suns still has Goran Dragic, Sebestian Telfair and P.J Tucker all on the injured list listed as day-to-day; Tucker played in the win against Memphis on Wednesday night and is expected to play tonight as well as Telfair and Dragic.

Keys to the game: Suns

Don’t let the Jazz big men intimidate. Utah has one of the most formidable front lines in the NBA and every time Phoenix goes up against Utah it seem like the Suns always allow Utah’s big men to  set the tone of the game and ultimately triggers a sense of inferiority in the Suns players(cough cough Marcin Gortat). The Suns need to attack their bigs early whether through post-up or pick and rolls.

Make Utah play isolation basketball. The Jazz are 3rd in the NBA this season in terms of assists per game which in prospective, assists are what drives the Utah offense, they’re at their best when the ball moves – around and they get good looks at the basket. Make these guys beat you one on one.

Box out. Utah is a great rebounding team due to what seems like countless talented big guys on their team between Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, and Paul Milsap. The Jazz are a good shooting team and it’ll be a long night if the Suns constantly allow these guys to get second chances.

Keys to the game: Jazz

Lock-up defensively! The Jazz seem to love pushing the ball which I don’t understand since the talent on their roster are much suited for a half-court, Chicago Bulls style type of game. Nonetheless, against the Suns tonight the Jazz should put focus on defense first, offense second, with strong post-up guys like Jefferson and Milsap at coach Ty(Tyrone) Corbin’s disposal, Utah shouldn’t have any problems scoring, but the question rather is on the defensive end.

Match the Suns energy. The Suns just got a win against one of the best teams in the league on Wednesday night, odds are those guys are coming out fired up. Utah needs to brace themselves for a energetic Suns squad that’s probably feeling pretty good about themselves at this point.

April 24, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz center Al Jefferson (25) is defended by Phoenix Suns center Marcin Gortat (4) during the first half at Energy Solutions Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The X-Factor:

Bench play. The Suns have a terrific bench that has won them a couple of games this season but the Jazz bench is pretty good in their own right led by Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter. The Suns bench will need to at least match the level of play the Jazz bench brings to the table.

Match-up Of The Night!

For the second straight game I’ll be looking at Marcin Gortat, this time against Al Jefferson. Gortat has come up smaller than a ant. The last two times Gortat played against Jefferson and the Jazz, once during last season when the Suns were playing what would be the last road game Steve Nash played in a Suns uniform, in a game which would keep the Suns alive in the playoff race, and most recently an embarrassing performance in Utah when he shot 0 for 6 from the field in a Suns loss. This could very well be the last game Gortat plays in a Suns uniform and I hope he goes out with a big one.

Tags: NBA Phoenix Suns Utah Jazz

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