|-4 UTA (-103) @ pinnacle|
My 9* Western Conference Showdown (Den/Utah) is on the Ut Jazz at 9:10 ET.
The Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz meet tonight in Salt Lake City and both teams have continued to play VERY well despite key injuries. The Jazz won at Denver on Jan 17 (109-105) but the Nuggets won the rematch 128-117 on Jan 31 (again in Denver). The "rubber match" of the season series goes tonight in Utah, which is 48-18, just one game up on the 47-19 Suns for the West's No. 1 seed. Denver comes in at 44-22, just a half-game back of the 45-22 Clippers (No. 3 seed). The West's top-four teams have separated themselves from the rest of the conference.
Denver PG Murray (21.2-4.0-4.8) went down back on April 12 but the Nuggets have won 10 of 12 games since, thanks mainly to MVP candidate Nikola Jokic (26.4-10.9-8.4). Denver's injury woes run deep, with PG Monte Morris and swingman Will Barton out with strained hamstrings plus P.J. Dozier (7.7) suffered an adductor strain Monday night and will "be out for a while. However, 30-year-old rookie PG Facundo Campazzo had 16 points, nine rebounds and five steals against New York in Wednesday's win. He has averaged 9.5 & 5.7 APG in the 12 games without Murray plus recently signed guard Austin Rivers scored 25 points in the win over the Knicks. SF Porter (18.8 & 7.5) is having a career season plus the acquisition of Aaron Gordon (10.0 & 4.8) from Orlando has worked great. He's not scoring as much as he did with the Magic but he's been a "great fit," with Denver going 17-4 in his 21 games.
Utah owns an outstanding guard duo in Mitchell (26.4-4.4-5.2) and Conley (16.4 & 6.0 APG) but Mitchell has missed the last 10 games with a right ankle sprain and could miss his 11th in this one. Conley has missed five straight games with a hamstring injury. However, SF Bogdanovich (16.3) had led Utah in scoring in four straight games, before guard Clarkson (17.5) led the way with 30 points in Utah's Wednesday win over the Spurs. The Jazz are 4-1 in the stretch, with Bogdanovich averaging 25.8 PPG. Center Gobert (14.4 & 13.3) will battle Jokic in the middle plus Ingles (12.3-3.6-4.6) and O'Neale (6.9 & 7.0) have been regular starters and QUALITY players all season.
Injuries galore in this one but don't forget, the Jazz opened the season 0-2 at home and enter this game 29-2 at home since, despite their recent injuries. Let's hope for a 'Donovan Mitchell sighting.' "The Price is Right" and I'm on Utah.
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