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Grizzlies at Jazz preview: Gobert or go home

Rudy Gobert looks down on us.

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Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Since the All-Star break, the Utah Jazz own the best defense in the league. They've allowed just 93.5 points per 100 possessions, which stacks up as historically great. At the center of it is noted mountain man Rudy Gobert, a 7'2" behemoth with arms that extend right to the rim. Literally: his standing reach was measured at 9'7". Paired with Derrick Favors (quietly also having a stellar season), the Jazz have one of the most dangerous frontcourts in the league. Entering this matchup, they've won five of their last six.

So the Memphis Grizzlies have, erm, a tall task ahead of them. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph can't bully a win out of their opponents in the post this time around – they're 1-2 against the Jazz this season. Lately, they've been having a tough enough time of it already. The Grizzlies' post All-Star offense has reverted to a much muddier form, and neither Gasol nor Randolph have yet to break 20 points in a game since March.

The Jazz's Achilles heel, for now at least, is their youth. Inconsistency plagues this team, especially their backcourt, which hasn't blossomed in the same way the big man corps has. Rookie Rodney Hood has shot the three-pointer at a pretty good (.417) clip since the All-Star break, but along with Trey Burke and Dante Exum, they make for a backcourt platoon that's pretty green around the edges.

After their last outing against the Sacramento Kings, when the Jazz were down early before rallying for a comeback win, Exum told Jazz blog Salt City Hoops, "I don’t think it’s effort – I wouldn’t say it’s effort. I think it’s just, kind of, coming to play. ... It’s hurt us a few times this season, and it’s something we’re working to get rid of."

The Jazz are out of playoff contention, but the Grizzlies have every reason to want to win this one. They're tied with the Houston Rockets for the two-seed entering Friday, and with four games left to go for each team, each game could make a difference in playoff matchups. Plan "AVOID THE SPURS BY ALL MEANS" will be in full effect Friday.

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2014-15 NBA Season
53-25 (23-15 away)
36-42 (20-19 home)
April 10th, 2015
EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
8:00 PM CDT
Fox SportSouth / 92.9 FM ESPN
Injury report: Mike Conley (probably; foot), Tony Allen (out; hamstring) | Alec Burks (out; shoulder)
Projected Starters
Mike Conley PG Dante Exum
Courtney Lee SG Rodney Hood
Jeff Green SF Gordon Hayward
Zach Randolph PF Derrick Favors
Marc Gasol C Rudy Gobert
2014/15 Advanced Stats
94.26 (26th) Pace 92.50 (30th)
103.2 (13th) ORtg 102.6 (14th)
99.9 (4th) DRtg 102.0 (11th)