After two strong pre-season tests, against Seattle and Golden State, next up is the Utah Jazz. If the Jazz's match-up with Detroit is anything to go by, this match may not be as useful a preparation as the previous two, with Utah coming in slightly undermanned. Both Andrei Kirilenko and Derek Fisher sat out the Detroit game with minor injuries.
PG: Deron Williams v Jarrett Jack
A quality match-up for Jack. Williams was highly impressive at times last season for Utah and much like Jack, is this season expected to break out and take over the point position as his own. Williams distributes the ball well, whilst Jack has proven a tendency for efficient scoring so far this pre-season. This should be fairly even.
SG: Gordon Giricek v Brandon Roy
Fans will be looking for the continued exciting play of Roy that we have seen to date. Giricek can realistically be described as one of the weakest starting SG's in the league, so this is hardly the match-up of a Ray Allen. Look for Roy to standout here -- particularly with his allround game, including ball distribution.
SF: Matt Harpring v Travis Outlaw
Harpring is a solid veteran who knows how to put some points on the board and could prove a handfull for Outlaw. The only real advantage that Outlaw holds is a large edge in athleticism, but the scoring of Harpring sees this as an area of strength for the Jazz.
PF: Carlos Boozer v Zach Randolph
Z-Bo has a chance to continue his impressive play against the hard-nosed Boozer. Based on the hard work Randolph has put in during the off-season, he should dominate against the Jazz with anything they can throw at him.
C: Mehmet Okur v Joel Przybilla
Memo's ability to knock down the outside shot makes him a threat which may draw Przybilla out from where he feels most comfortable and is most useful -- the key. Okur shocked many in 2005/06 with his strong season, where he translated a complimentary role with the Pistons into being more of a focal point with the Jazz. Similarly, Przybilla was impressive for the Blazers, particularly on defense, despite injuries limiting his season. The ongoing challenge with Jamaal Magloire for starters minutes will be interesting to watch here.
Key Bench Players
Utah: Randy Brewer, CJ Miles, Jarron Collins
Portland: Jamaal Magloire, Martell Webster, Dan Dickau
Brewer scored 15 points in a scrappy game against Detroit, whilst CJ Miles has shown promise at the 2/3 positions. The Blazer bench is clearly stronger however, with former All-Star Magloire pressing for more minutes and Webster's pure shooting looking more confident than ever.
The Blazers will be disappointed if this game ends in a loss, despite it being a pre-season match. This should be an opportunity to solidify some teamwork amongst the many new teammates in Portland.