The Utah Jazz will have a rematch with the LA Lakers on Wednesday at the Crypto.com Arena. LeBron James carried the purple and gold to a win in the first meeting between the two teams this season.Since going 4-11, the Jazz have played excellent basketball the last few weeks, racking up six straight wins. The Salt Lake City team drubbed the hapless Houston Rockets 135-101 in their last game to bring their record to 36-21. They’ll now look to even their season series against the Lakers on the latter’s home floor.
The Lakers will begin a four-game homestand with a battle against one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. James, who has been declared questionable due to knee soreness, is expected to lead the team if he’s cleared to play. Anthony Davis is probable, but will likely play to add more firepower to the Lakers.
Russell Westbrook played in the 117-115 loss to the Golden State Warriors after sitting out the previous game due to a bad back. The triple-double king has had a season to forget, but remains an integral part of the Lakers after a quiet trade deadline.LA are in desperate need of wins to stay in contention for a play-in slot. Beating the Jazz would be a great start to their homestand.
Fixture: Utah Jazz vs LA Lakers | 2021-22 NBA season.Date & Time: Wednesday, February 16; 10:00 PM ET (Thursday, February 17; 8:30 AM IST).Venue: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA.
Utah Jazz Preview
The Utah Jazz are rolling again after Donovan Mitchell’s return from concussion protocols. They have won five straight since his return. In more good news for Utah, Rudy Gobert returned after a lengthy spell on the injury list. Having their two best players should be great moving forward.While Gobert was recovering from injury, Hassan Whiteside admirably stepped up to the plate.
Even in limited minutes, the towering center provided the Jazz with outstanding rebounding and interior defense. Head coach Quin Snyder now has the luxury of alternating between the two dominant big men as the season eases towards the All-Star break.The Utah Jazz defense got back its edge with the emergence of Whiteside. They posted a 103.7 defensive rating in their six-game winning streak, which is only second to the Boston Celtics’ otherworldly defense. Utah are back to being a regular-season machine despite trading the injured Joe Ingles.
Key Player – Donovan Mitchell
It’s no coincidence that the Utah Jazz started playing well after Donovan Mitchell returned from concussion protocols. Since returning, the 3x All-Star has posted 25.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 1.4 steals in five games. He’s also shooting at 42.6% from beyond the arc in this period.
Mitchell’s value isn’t just in his raw numbers for the Utah Jazz. His ability to draw defenses and impact the overall plans of opposing teams has made life easier for Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic. The 25-year-old shooting guard greatly deserved his All-Star nod.
Utah Jazz Predicted Lineup
G – Mike Conley | G – Donovan Mitchell | F – Bojan Bogdanovic | F – Royce O’Neale | C – Rudy Gobert.
LA Lakers Preview
The LA Lakers drama continues to be must-see TV. In their heartbreaking loss to the Warriors, James missed a crucial free throw that could have tied the game. Despite posting a triple double, the four-time MVP struggled badly with his shooting.Russell Westbrook played solidly against the Warriors, finishing with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists. It was a good showing from Westbrook after a disastrous last few games for the Lakers.Meanwhile, Anthony Davis had an average night against an inferior Golden State Warriors frontline that did not have Draymond Green.
Davis tallied 16 points on 13 shots, but could have done more in the post against the supposedly overmatched Warriors’ big men.The Lakers Big 3 is evidently a work in progress. They hardly play well together consistently. The season is about to reach its most crucial stretch, so the Lakers can’t afford the same collective display from their superstar trio.
Key Player – LeBron James
LeBron James now has more points than anyone in league history, combining the regular season and playoffs. The 26 points against the Warriors felt empty, though, as he missed a key free throw.James had to labor to get his 26 points, as he took more shots than his actual score. He also ended with a game-worst -11 in his team-high 38 minutes for the LA Lakers.
Theawful performance, though, was only a blip in an MVP-level season. Even at 37, the four-time champion remains one of the best players in the league. He is averaging 29 points, which is just a hair below league-leader Joel Embiid’s production. LeBron James has averaged the most points since the 2009-10 season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, when he normed 29.7 per outing.
LA Lakers Predicted Lineup
G – Russell Westbrook | G – Avery Bradley | F – Stanley Johnson | F – LeBron James | C – Anthony Davis.
Jazz vs Lakers Match Prediction
The Utah Jazz are back to their best form, while the LA Lakers are scrambling to get things right. Utah could exact their revenge in the rematch and extend the Lakers’ misery.