Utah Jazz Takeaways by Tyrik Hutchinson- Junior
⁃Struggles closing games: Watching their first game of the week against the Rockets, the Jazz struggled to close this game out. As elite as Donovan Mitchell is, he can only do so much down the stretch… who is going to emerge as a consistent threat for this team outside of Mitchell?
⁃Playing down to competition: It has been a theme for this Jazz team to allow inferior opponents threaten them. The Rockets have beaten them once this season, and took them to OT early last week. They got destroyed by the Pelicans, who have been playing well, but the Jazz are too experienced of a team to lose by almost 40 points to any team. We saw this in the Playoffs last year as well; when the Clippers lost Kawhi, it seemed like it was the Jazz’s series to lose… and they lost it.
⁃Who will be the #2 option: I wanted the Jazz to be aggressive at the trade deadline and bring in a legit #2 guy next to Donovan Mitchell (I really wanted to see Jerami Grant in a Jazz jersey). They did not make any significant moves, so this is the team they are stuck with moving forward. We know Rudy Gobert’s impact comes on the defensive side of the floor. With him being a top two player on this team, it makes it difficult for them to bring in an offensive co-star. We thought Bojan Bogdanovic would be this guy, but he hasn’t been consistent enough (shoutout to him for hitting 11 3-pointers against OKC). For this team to be successful, they need Bogdanovic to be consistent, or for Mike Conley to be elite in the postseason. We know what we will get from Mitchell, but who else will be able to step their game up in the Playoffs?
Charlotte Hornets Takeaways by Emilio Peña
Here’s my thing for the hornets…The Charlotte Hornets have played well coming out of the All-Star break. The Hornets are in the thick of the Play-In bracket for the Eastern Conference sitting at 9th. In the 5 games since the break, Charlotte has a record of 3-2, that could easily be 4-1 if not for a Kelly Olynyk buzzer beater in OT. Their other loss came at the hands of the Defending champion Bucks who simply outplayed Charlotte. The Hornets were able to bounce back with an impressive win over the 6th place Cavs team. Lamelo Ball played 8 minutes and had 4 fouls, allowing Terry Rozier to pour in 27 points, and the debuting Isaiah Thomas to add 10 points. They followed that up with a close win over the Spurs in which both teams traded buckets late in the fourth before Charlotte was able to pull away. Charlotte is a young team that can score a lot of points, having scored over 100 points in all 5 games. Their defense remains average at best though. They should be a fun watch for the remainder of the season, and are expected to get into the Play-In bracket.
76ers and Pelicans Takeaways by Evan Alary
- Harden + Embiid, working well so far. Is it because it’s the beginning, or is this the duo Philly has been looking for ?
Embiid playing at an MVP level, Harden finally playing like the Harden we knew in Houston, is this a title winnng team, or Philly still needs to add some elements ?
CJ McCollum has been playing well since his trade to the Pels. Both him and Ingram are fitting well. Is CJ the player the Pels have been looking for and can CJ finally step up like we wanted him to do in Portland ?
What about Zion ? Does he still have his place in this team with the arrival of CJ or should the Pels find a trade for him this summer ?
Toronto Raptors Takeaways by Cantly Elliott
The Raptors were able to put together two quality wins against the Brooklyn Nets, but then fumbled the next three games against the Pistons, Magic and Cavs. 3-point shooting and free throws were a struggle for the Raptors in those games. Toronto is hopeful to get Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby back and healthy to make a run at the six seed in the East to avoid the play-in tournament.
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