After a tough loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday at Staples Center, the Trail Blazers (30-20) look to get back on track against the best team in the NBA, the Utah Jazz.
Thursday’s game against the Jazz (38-12) will be the second of three matchups this season. Utah came away with a 120-100 win in Portland on Dec. 23, 2020 and lead the series 1-0.
In the loss, CJ McCollum scored 23 points (7-19 FG, 3-8 3-PT, 6-6 FT), four rebounds, three assists and one block. The Jazz’ Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell each had 20 points apiece.
The Jazz have a remarkable streak of 22-straight wins at Vivint Arena dating back to Jan. 1, making Thursday’s game another litmus test on the road for Portland.
On Wednesday’s injury report, Portland guard Norman Powell is listed as probable (left big toe inflammation) and center Jusuf Nurkic (right knee inflammation) was questionable. F/C Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture) is out for Thursday’s game at Utah.
Less than four hours before tip-off, the Blazers upgraded Nurkic to available for Thursday's game vs. Jazz. Powell remains probable.
Powell scored 32 points (8-18 FG, 2-7 3Pt, 14-15 FT), four rebounds and one assist in 37 minutes during Tuesday's 133-116 loss to the Clippers.
Nurkic missed Tuesday’s game after returning to the Trail Blazers lineup on March 25 after missing two months due to a fractured right wrist that required surgery. He is averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
The Trail Blazers signed Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to a 10-day contract, but he will not be available Thursday night.
For the Jazz, Jordan Clarkson (right ankle; sprain) is doubtful; Juwan Morgan (left calf; tightness) and Udoka Azubuike (right ankle; severe sprain) are out. Utah was in action Wednesday night vs. the Phoenix Suns, falling 117-113 in overtime.
Following Tuesday’s game, our Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes detailed the Blazers struggles on defense.
The question all season has been simply, “Why?” Particularly since two solid defenders, Derrick Jones Jr. and Robert Covington, were added in the off-season and Jusuf Nurkic has been back in the lineup, albeit on a limited basis.
A commitment was made even before training camp to improve the defense. That just hasn’t happened.
It appears the team’s identity over the past few seasons has been built on its offense. And the result has been an efficient attack, often ranked among the top five in the league.
Defense, though, has seemed to be sacrificed to that end. For whatever reason, and in spite of all the rhetoric, it does not seem to be a priority. In an era where offense has taken center stage in the league, defense has become more difficult.
That means to play it well, it must be emphasized, practiced and become part of a team’s culture.
Read more here.
The Blazers are 7-point underdogs against the Jazz, odds provided by our partner PointsBet.
Here’s what you need to know about Thursday’s matchup –
- Damian Lillard has scored at least 34 points in four of his last five games against Utah, including 42 points and six assists at Utah on Feb. 7, 2020 and 51 points and 12 assists on Feb. 1, 2020.
- CJ McCollum holds career averages of 18.2 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists against Utah.
- Carmelo Anthony scored 15 points (5-12 FG, 5-6 FT) to go with four rebounds and one steal against Utah on Dec. 23.
- Rudy Gobert has recorded at least 11 rebounds in each of his last four games vs. Portland.
- The Jazz (17.0) and Trail Blazers (16.2) lead the league in three-pointers made per game.
- The Jazz are the only team in the NBA to rank among the top 5 in both offensive rating (117.1, 3rd) and defensive rating (107.6, 3rd).
- Damian Lillard (1,973 career 3PM) is currently tied with LeBron James for 13th on the NBA’s all-time list of made three-pointers. Up next is Joe Johnson in 12th with 1,978. James and Lillard are tied for third among active players.
- CJ McCollum (3,629 career FGM) is six made field goals away from passing Rasheed Wallace for 10thon the Trail Blazers all-time field goal list.
POINT SPREAD: -- Trail Blazers: +7 (-110) – Clippers -7 (-110)
HOW TO WATCH:
When: Thursday, April 8
Where: Vivint Arena | Salt Lake City, Utah
Start time: 7:00 p.m. PT
TV channel: NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers
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