Despite losing their lone star, Gordon Hayward, in free agency last summer, the Jazz are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now, going 14-5 since the All-Star break, tied for the fourth best record during that time. Utah is in a great position to make a late-season playoff push, currently seeded No. 6 in the Western Conference with an opportunity to leapfrog the Oklahoma City Thunder in the standings with a win Tuesday.
But the Lakers have huge potential to play spoiler in their final six games of the season, starting Tuesday in Utah. The only issue is no one on the Lakers can seem to stay healthy.
The Lakers will be without Brandon Ingram, who is still in the NBA’s concussion protocol, for the second straight game and Lonzo Ball, who is still dealing with knee soreness. Head coach Luke Walton said via the OC Register’s Bill Oram that Ball “probably” could have played, but they want to wait until he’s “all the way healthy.” The Lakers will also be without Isaiah Thomas, who is out for the season as he recovers from hip surgery.
With all kinds of bumps and bruises, Los Angeles has less than a fighting chance against Utah on Tuesday, but stranger things have happened.
If the Lakers want to keep things from getting out of hand right away, they have to contain breakout rookie Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell is crazy athletic and isn’t afraid to take the tough shots in winning time. With how depleted the Lakers’ guard depth is, expect him to have the ball in his hands a lot.
The Lakers also have to make a conscious effort to keep the ball moving. They’ve had some success feeding the ball to Julius Randle and Brook Lopez in the post as of late, but with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert clogging the paint for the Jazz, it might not be as effective tonight.
The Lakers had less than 20 assists in their game against Sacramento on Sunday. They can’t afford to do that against the Jazz.
Enjoy the game!
Time: 6 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet