The Kings lost to the Jazz in the final preseason game 82-71, but that game should have little resemblance to this game. Utah was without Deron Williams and Mehmet Okur, and the Kings were without Dalembert, Casspi, Head and Garcia.
Two weeks ago the Jazz had a very successful road trip back east when they won against Mia, Orl, Atl, and Cha. Only to return home and lose to the Thunder, beat the Nets, than lose to the Spurs. Before going back on the road for one game and beating the Trailblazers. So, for November, they are 8-3 with 2 of their losses coming at home.
Utah shoots better from outside 10ft than do the Kings, although Utah as a team is only shooting around 33% from beyond the arc. Of the main 3pt shooters, Williams, CJ Miles, Raja Bell, and Andrei Kirilenko, only William (33%) and Kirilenko (48%) are shooting well. The Kings shoot better inside 10ft, but the Jazz attempt more shots at the rim while the Kings attempt more 3’s.
With Okur still recovering from offseason surgery for a ruptured left Achilles, Al Jefferson is seeing 36 mpg at center with Fesenko and Elson backing him up. And, even with Paul Millsap averaging over 9 rebounds per game, the Jazz are being outrebounded at both ends of the court. The Kings on the other hand have the 2nd highest Offensive Rebound Rate.
Sloan's rotation relies heavily on his starters. Other than his starters and CJ Miles (22.9 mpg), no other player is averaging more than 12 mpg. And, no one outside of the top 6 is averaging more than 4 ppg. The Jazz depend on Williams (22.3 ppg), Millsap (20.8 ppg) and Jefferson (15.8 ppg) for the bulk of their scoring. But this should be a good match up for the Kings who have good size and defensive players in the frontcourt in Dalembert, Cousins, Landry and Greene.
While Williams is the top scorer, Millsap is the most prolific and accurate scorer inside the 3pt arc. He’s shooting 78.7% at the rim, 45.5% on short jumpers, 46.2% on midrange, and 46% on long jumpers, and he’s even 4 for 5 from 3pt range. And, he takes long 2’s (50) almost as often as he shoots at the rim (62). If he has a weakness it may be at the rim where 81% of his shots are assisted. Besides being set up by Williams, the Jazz like to run their off guard throw the paint and back pick on Millsap’s man, allowing him to roll around the pick for an easy layup or short jumper. Our guards need to roll to the outside of the pick and force Millsap to go deeper than he wants.
Al Jefferson will take shots out to the long 2, but he’s only accurate inside 10ft where he is shooting 60 for 120. His biggest weakness may be that he seldom gives up the ball when he’s in close. The Kings might want to double him as soon as he gets the ball in close with their other big and force Jefferson to give up the ball. The fourth most dangerous weapon is probably AK47, who I pointed out is extremely hot from beyond the arc, but between there and the rim he’s just lukewarm. At the rim he’s the 4th leading scorer, and he’s 2nd in assists at the basket. So, he needs to be played tight beyond the arc and if he gets passed you on the drive rely on the interior defense to stop him outside the paint. If he pulls up for a jumper in-between, that’s an advantage for you. When he’s on the weak side of the court, you must stay between him and the basket to keep him from getting any offensive put backs.
Utah is allowing 100 ppg which is right around the Kings scoring average; reversely the Kings are giving up 106 ppg which is 4 more than Utah averages. Because of the matchups I think the Kings could win this one on the road. But everything depends on their defense continuing to perform as it has the last two games, and in controlling the offensive glass. Go Kings.