In an enticing 2020-21 NBA clash, the Utah Jazz will battle the vengeance-seeking New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on Monday. The Utah Jazz walloped the New Orleans Pelicans in their first two meetings this season, a back-to-back set in Utah that ended in two blowout wins by the home team in January.
Interestingly, the New Orleans Pelicans had lost eight of their nine outings coming against the double-header against the Utah Jazz. This time, the New Orleans Pelicans will hope to arrest a two-game skid which includes a heartbreaking 114-117 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.
The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, beat the Orlando Magic 124-109 on Saturday after losing to the Miami Heat 116-124 on Friday.
Fixture - Utah Jazz vs New Orleans Pelicans | 2020-21 NBA Season.
Date & Time - Monday, March 1st; 8:00 PM ET (Tuesday, March 2nd; 6:30 AM IST).
Venue - Smoothie King Center, New Orleans, LA.
Utah Jazz Preview
The Utah Jazz have been the best team in the league this season. With a 27-7 record on the season, the Utah Jazz are ahead of second-placed LA Clippers by three and a half games in the Western Conference.
Donovan Mitchell has been sensational in the Utah Jazz's surge to the top, which is why he is garnering MVP talk this season.
The in-form Utah Jazz will have to make a few adjustments against Stan Van Gundy’s team, though. The second game of their recent back-to-back series almost resulted in a win for the New Orleans Pelicans till the Utah Jazz embarked on a run that put them in the driver’s seat.
With the New Orleans Pelicans playing at home this time, the Utah Jazz will have to be wary of not falling behind early in the game again.
Key Player - Rudy Gobert
Though Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson have garnered most of the headlines for the Utah Jazz, Rudy Gobert has been in the thick of things too.
Gobert is averaging 14 points, 13.4 rebounds and a career-high 2.7 blocks per game this campaign.
Few centers patrol and protect the paint as well as the 7' center from France does. His defense and blocking prowess are enough to deter opponents from entering the lane.
Against the New Orleans Pelicans, Gobert’s defense will once again be challenged by super sophomore Zion Williamson, who seems intent on dunking Gobert every time when attacking the rim. The Utah Jazz big man will have to avoid getting into foul trouble early with Williamson around and be smarter when he meets the New Orleans Pelicans forward in the air.
Utah Jazz Predicted Lineup
G Mike Conley, G Donovan Mitchell, F Bojan Bogdanovic, F Royce O’Neale, C Rudy Gobert.
New Orleans Pelicans Preview
Revenge will be on the minds of the New Orleans Pelicans when they face the Utah Jazz on Monday. This time they will have the friendly confines of their home court. The New Orleans Pelicans have also improved since they last faced the Utah Jazz.
Van Gundy has placed the ball in the hands of Zion Williamson more to initiate the offense. That has resulted in some big wins against some of the better teams in the league.
A win against the Utah Jazz would arrest the New Orleans Pelicans' two-game slide and bring them back into playoff reckoning.
Key Player - Zion Williamson
As good as the Utah Jazz are, Zion Williamson hasn’t let their dominance over the league dictate his approach. Williamson approaches the game the same way whether it’s against the worst team in the league or the best.
This season, Williamson is averaging 25.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. In his last outings, Williamson has upped his scoring and assists numbers to 28.1 and 4.7, respectively, while his rebound average hovers around a respectable 6.4. The leap in his assists is quite remarkable, as it gives the New Orleans Pelicans another facilitator in offense.
The Duke product will have to own the paint regardless of Gobert’s presence to help the New Orleans Pelicans upset the Utah Jazz. Williamson could take over a game, as Van Gundy has given him the permission to do so lately. That has resulted in some of the best games of Williamson’s young career so far.
New Orleans Pelicans Predicted Lineup
G Lonzo Ball, G Eric Bledsoe, F Brandon Ingram, F Zion Williamson, C Steven Adams.
Jazz vs Pelicans Match Prediction
Brandon Ingram and first-time All-Star Zion Williamson will be more ready to face the Utah Jazz since the two teams' last meeting.
The Utah Jazz are the firm favorites to take another win. But they are playing their third game in four nights and their third straight road game as well, which could augur well for the hosts. With teams gunning for the Utah Jazz, they appear a tad vulnerable too.
It’s up to the New Orleans Pelicans to capitalise on these factors against the surging Utah Jazz. The Monday encounter could be a close one, but it won't be a surprise if the New Orleans Pelicans come out on top too.