According to Chris Tomasson, Deron Williams will return tonight after missing four games with a wrist injury. Early in the season the Jazz were able to field a consistent lineup and took control of first place in the Northwest division. After injuries not only to Deron Williams but also Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur (both won’t play tonight) the Jazz have slipped and actually sit a half game back of the Nuggets currently.
The Jazz are a bit better than average on offense and slightly below average defensively. Jerry Sloan runs a well rounded team with more emphasis on consistency at both ends than anything. As the Nuggets know, what the Jazz do great is attack with plenty of movement. Utah is third in the league in assist ratio and with Deron Williams back they are a force to be reckoned with. Utah is only 2-8 in their last 10, giving up 120 to the Lakers and 115 to the Spurs in that span. Their game plan will likely be centered 100% around slowing down Denver’s attack and trying to keep them under 100.
These teams know each other well and it’s an important division contest for both. It’s likely to be a battle of wills between two teams with vulnerable defenses. Against a tired Blazers team we saw the Nuggets emphasize defense and half court execution versus getting their running attack going. I’d like to see the Nuggets win the rebounding battle again. Denver has fallen flat on their face in their last two “show-up” games against quality opponents San Antonio and the Lakers, where they were blown out and looked horrible. If the Nuggets want to be taken seriously they have to show up for this one.