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Portland Trail Blazers vs Utah Jazz prediction and combined starting 5 - April 8th, 2021 | NBA Season 2020-21

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz watches as Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz watches as Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots
ANALYST
Modified 08 Apr 2021
Feature

The Utah Jazz will host the Portland Trail Blazers for an NBA Western Conference matchup on Thursday.

The Jazz hold the best record in the league (38-13) and have been impressive throughout the 2020-21 NBA season.

The Trail Blazers have also had a great run, despite missing two starters, C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, due to injuries. They have a 30-20 record so far and sit in sixth place in the West.

Thursday's encounter will be the second game between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Utah Jazz this season. In their previous matchup on December 23rd, the Jazz secured a 120-100 victory at Portland. This time, they'll meet at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Portland Trail Blazers vs Utah Jazz prediction

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz are coming off a tough OT loss on the road against the Phoenix Suns and will look to defeat the Portland Trail Blazers at home to get back to winning ways.

It will not be an easy task, but Quin Snyder's defense (fourth-best in the NBA) will surely be well-prepared to battle against the Portland Trail Blazers' offense (fifth-best in the NBA).

The Portland Trail Blazers will have doubts on the defensive end, where the team has struggled so far. They have the second-worst defensive unit in the league in terms of Defensive Rating, as they allow more than 116 points per 100 possessions.

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Still, an offense with Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Norman Powell and Carmelo Anthony will be difficult for the Utah Jazz.

The Portland Trail Blazers will also be looking to return to winning form, as they fell in their previous game against the LA Clippers.

Portland Trail Blazers vs Utah Jazz combined starting 5

Point Guard - Damian Lillard | Shooting Guard - Donovan Mitchell | Small Forward - Norman Powell | Power Forward - Enes Kanter | Center - Rudy Gobert.

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard is arguably the strongest candidate for the 2020-21 NBA MVP award, even though the Portland Trail Blazers currently occupy sixth place in the Western Conference.

Lillard has been great in the regular season and has been the driving force of a Trail Blazers team that has not had an easy road in the 2020-21 NBA season.

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The five-time All-NBA point guard is putting up 29 points and 7.7 assists per game, with a 44% efficiency from the field, 38% from the three-point line (10.8 attempts per game) and 94% from the free-throw line.

On the Utah Jazz's roster, Donovan Mitchell is definitely the most talented player and has been the offensive leader of the current first seed of the entire NBA. Mitchell is averaging a team-high (and career-high) 25.8 points per game and has been distributing the ball well, averaging a career-high 5.4 assists per game.

Mitchell has to put in more energy on defense, but he is still averaging a steal per game, which definitely helps a Utah Jazz defense that is already solid.

Meanwhile, Norman Powell was traded from the Toronto Raptors to the Portland Trail Blazers for Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr. The wing player arrived at Portland with the same offensive game that he displayed in Toronto.

Powell had a career year with the Raptors. In six games with the Portland Trail Blazers, he is averaging 18 points per game with 45/42/79 shooting splits. Terry Stotts has included him in the starting lineup, and the Blazers have a 4-2 record with him so far.

Overall, Powell is averaging a career-high 19.4 points per game this season, with 49/44/85 shooting splits.

With Jusuf Nurkic injured for most of the year (he's played only 17 of the Blazers' 50 games), Enes Kanter has stepped up with great efficiency and effort for the squad. The Portland Trail Blazers' center is averaging 12 points and 11.7 rebounds per game this season.

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Kanter has made 50 appearances in the current campaign and has started 33 times for the Portland Trail Blazers. Moreover, he ranks 11th in the entire NBA when it comes to double-doubles (28) in the 2020-21 season.

To close our combined lineup, we have Utah Jazz's center Rudy Gobert. He is the team's anchor on defense and makes everything work on that end of the court.

The Frenchman, who is already a two-time Defensive Player of the Year award winner, is putting up 14.6 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.9 blocks per game for the Utah Jazz this year. He is second in the league in blocks per game and leads the NBA in Defensive Rating.


Also read: NBA Play-in Tournament 2021: Predicting the 4 participants from the Eastern Conference

Published 08 Apr 2021, 12:21 IST
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