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It's been a rough stretch for the Utah Jazz. They've been getting killed on the road and have a chance to start to redeem themselves and get back on track. This month (January, they have a fairly light schedule and they take on the Indiana Pacers at home.

This is the first time both teams have met. The Jazz will be without Andrei Kirilenko (back injury) and Ronnie Price (sprained ankle). Unfortunately there is still no timetable for AK's return.

Here are some key points to tonight's game.

  • Guard the Pacers' wingmen. And I'm not talking about the guys who are willing to go after the ugly chicks. Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy Jr. can be a handful, especially if they get past their man. I know I sound like a broken record, but the Jazz really need to step up and work on their help defense.
  • Jermaine O'Neal vs. Carlos Boozer. Tonight should be a challenge for Boozer. O'Neal is a better than average defender, and on the opposite end of the floor can get his own on the offense. Boozer is going to have to deal with a bunch of talented power forwards if the Jazz can get themselves back into considering themselves a playoff contender.
  • Mehmet Okur vs. Troy Murphy: Self, meet former self. Or self, meet future self. Both of these guys have a similar style of play; a big guy who can and seems to prefer shooting from the outside. Okur has been having a rough time of it and hopefully can have a big game tonight. For Murphy, this could be a vision of what could happen to him in the future. Which might not be too bad for him, considering Okur already has an NBA championship ring, an All-Star appearance and a marriage to a Turkish super model.

Most interesting about tonight's lineup for the Jazz will be watching who gets time at the shooting guard and small forward. Consider all the players the Jazz will have tonight who play those positions:

  • The Jazz have called up rookie Morris Almond from the NBA D-League. Almond was drafted due to his enormous perimeter shooting and potential.
  • Kyle Korver who the Jazz just traded for his outside shooting prowess.
  • CJ Miles, who at times shows lots of potential from downtown but then have an awful game.
  • Ronnie Brewer who began the season as the 2 guard of choice due to his high shot percentage and strong defense.
  • Matt Harpring, all-around favorite player of Utah Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan.

So who's going to win the Utah Jazz swingman contest? Other than Harpring, who ever shows the most effort on defense. I suspect one of these five could be very well traded by the end of the season.

That's all for now. Tip off is at 9 PM EST.

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