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While the Jazz easily dispatched the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, the Suns seemed to have their hands full. They overcame a 16 point deficit going into the fourth period and wound up winning in overtime. After that, they had to get ready to fly to Salt Lake City. Oh the grueling schedule of the NBA.
Steve Nash didn’t fly with them last night, as he sat out a good chunk of the game thanks to a stomach virus. He still might be at home; there has been no announcement if he’s joined the team or is staying home sick. Suns coach Mike D’Antoni has also said that Leandro Barbosa and Shawn Marion were feeling somewhat ill, as well.
What does this mean?
Does it mean that the stars and moon and suns are aligned in a way that the Utah Jazz might be able to get the win tonight?
When a full Suns roster played the Jazz back in December, the Jazz nearly won the game. In the fourth quarter—surprise of surprises—the Jazz choked and allowed Phoenix to get the win, 103-98.
In addition to the gastrointestinal problems, the Suns are also missing Grant Hill. He’s gone through a sort of renaissance this year as an all around player, adding rebounding, passing and leadership.
This absence doesn’t have anything to do with his ongoing ankle problems, but an appendectomy. Who would have thunk.
So what should the Jazz do tonight? Defend.
If Nash isn’t playing, try to keep the ball in Barbosa or Marcus Banks’ hands. Force them to turn the ball over as much as the possible.
The Suns also like to set up their three point shooters, so defend the perimeter. This gives the Jazz a chance to work on using a 3-2 zone defense, something that will definitely help them in the playoffs.
Related to that, is that they need to step up their help defense in Kirilenko’s absence.
The Jazz are going to have to be careful on their use of physicality on defense. I’m not saying that the Suns are softies, but they rarely foul their opponents when they are defending. The teams just have two completely different styles. The referees know this, and will probably give the Suns the benefit on this one and be more critical on the Jazz. It would be different if it were say the Detroit Pistons, another physical defender.
On the offense side, the Jazz have shown that they can score in bunches, something that is needed to compete with the Suns. They do have to remember that they don’t have to compete with the Suns as to who is going to be faster; they should just be concerned on their execution.