The Brooklyn Nets take on the Utah Jazz in tonight's marquee matchup at Vivint Arena, as the Jazz look to avenge the embarrassing 130-96 loss they endured against their counterparts earlier in the season.
The Brooklyn Nets are arguably the most dominant team in the league right now, thanks to the star-power they possess in their ranks this season. The Nets have won 16 of their last 18 games, which has improved their season record to 30-14. However, they will be without star duo Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, which could affect the Nets' chances of winning this game.
The Utah Jazz, on the other hand, have struggled in recent weeks and have lost six games since the end of February, which is surprising considering they lost just five games all season before that stretch. However, they started the second half of the campaign by registering four wins out of six and have rediscovered their mojo ahead of this tough matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Utah Jazz - Prediction
Both teams head into this contest on the back of two straight wins apiece. The Brooklyn Nets will be short on star power for this match and will be without Landry Shamet, along with Durant and Kyrie as mentioned earlier. They will be banking on the likes of James Harden, Joe Harris, and Blake Griffin to carry them over the line.
The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, are at full strength and have all their key players available. They thrashed the Chicago Bulls 120-95 in their last game and shot 48.9% from the field, including a 43.6% clip from downtown, making 17 shots from long-range. After producing that kind of performance, they have momentum on their side going into this matchup and will look to secure homecourt advantage
Despite long-term form being on the Brooklyn Nets side, the Utah Jazz will still start the game as favorites. Not to forget, Brooklyn isn't as great on the defensive end either, something Utah will look to take advantage of with the kind of shooting form their players are in this season.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Utah Jazz Combined 5
Point Guard - James Harden | Shooting Guard - Donovan Mitchell | Small Forward - Bojan Bogdanovic | Power Forward - Joe Harris | Center - Rudy Gobert
James Harden has been a terrific addition to the Brooklyn Nets side this season. The former Houston Rockets talisman was always known as a lethal scorer but has reinvented his game by taking up the role of provider for the Nets.
In his 30-game stint with them so far, Harden is averaging 25.4 points, 11.5 assists and 8.7 rebounds per game. He is the best floor-general in the available pool of guards from the two teams, making him the leading candidate to start as the floor-general in this combined 5 lineup.
At the shooting guard position, with no Kyrie Irving available for the matchup, Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell gets the nod ahead of the likes of teammate Mike Conley. Mitchell is leading the Jazz in scoring by some distance this season. He is averaging 25.5 points, 5.5 assists, and a respectable 4.6 rebounds per game so far.
He forms a lethal pair with his All-Star game teammate Harden on the backcourt as the two could wreak havoc with their tremendous shooting and ball-handling capabilities.
The frontcourt sees forwards Bojan Bogdanovic of the Utah Jazz and Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets pair up. Ideally, both players play the small forward position, but with no Kevin Durant available, we have chosen Bogdanovic as the small forward and Harris as the power forward in our combined starting five. Both players are averaging close to 15 points per game and have also been reliable shooters from deep this campaign.
Rudy Gobert makes the cut as the fifth and final player in our combined five lineup. Gobert is one of the best big men in the league and has formed a lethal partnership with Donovan Mitchell for the Utah Jazz. The Frenchman has the highest player efficiency rating on his team at 23.20 and is averaging 14.5 points, 13.3 rebounds, and three blocks per game so far.