Western Conference action here, as the Phoenix Suns host the Utah Jazz. Both teams enter this one with a record of 2-1, and the Suns have been better than just about anybody expected so far. Oddsmakers have the Jazz as modest road favorites for this one. It's a revenge game for Ricky Rubio, and there are plenty of other storylines.
Conley StrugglingThe Utah Jazz have done a great job of building their team back up over the past couple of years, when it looked like they were going to fall apart after Gordon Hayward left in free agency. They got bounced in the first round of the playoffs last year and decided to blow things up a bit. They got rid of Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors, and fraud in point guard Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic to upgrade the offense. They got a lot of new pieces working together, so they were understandably some chemistry issues early on. Conley in particular clearly hasn't been comfortable, as he is shooting only 23.7% from the field so far through three games.
Utah hasn't looked great overall, as they got beat soundly by the Lakers and nearly barely beat the Thunder during their first two games. Utah could also potentially be dealing with some fatigue issues here, as this is their third game in four nights. It's pretty brutal to have three games in four nights situation right at the beginning of the season, when their conditioning isn't fully back up to speed yet. Their defense looks to be elite yet again, but it should take some time for the offense to catch up. Jazz was still without backup point guard Dante Exum here, leaving them noticeably thin in the backcourt. Behind Conley and Mitchell, I'm not at all impressed by what they have at guard.
Suns Emerging?Speaking of teams that reinvented themselves this offseason, the a did the same. Funnily enough, they signed Rubio, and they also hired a new head coach in Monty Williams. In just a short time at the helm, Williams already seems to have overhauled the culture in Phoenix. The team is playing with a lot more energy and pride than they have in years past, and they looked impressive while racing out to a 2-1 record.
They were dealt a tough blow when promising young center DeAndre Ayton was suspended for 25 games, but they appear to be doing just fine without him. They've already beaten the Clippers, possibly the league's best team, and their only loss was on the road in overtime against the Nuggets. Rubio missed the game with a minor knee injury, but fortunately he's going to return for this one. It's a revenge game Rubio at the Jazz let him walk this offseason, so I'm expecting big things from him. Studs scorer Devin Booker has never had a real point guard playing next to him throughout his young career, and the presence of Rubio is clearly going to help him greatly.
The defense looks much improved, and small forward Kelly Oubre Jr is averaging 21.3 points per game so far. The Suns have won both of their home games so far this season, by a combined 37 points. Everybody was sleeping on Phoenix coming into this season, but hopefully, they've woken up by now. This team isn't a joke anymore, and they could make some noise this season. They always play well in front of their home crowd, and they are 4-1 against the spread in their last five home games.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 Monday games
- 3-9-1 ATS in their last 13 Monday games
- 2-5 ATS in their last 7 when their opponent scores 100 points or more in their previous game