SACRAMENTO — For the Utah Jazz it will be a dress rehearsal of sorts when they take on the Sacramento Kings Thursday night (8 p.m. MT) at Golden 1 Center.
You see, the Jazz will be playing the Kings less than a week later when the same two teams meet again on the same court Wednesday night in what will be the NBA regular-season opener for both teams.
The Jazz will be trying to go through preseason 5-0 for the second straight year after sweeping last year’s preseason games when they had two wins over Phoenix, one over the Clippers and two over foreign teams Sydney and Maccabi Haifa. Only one other time in Jazz history, have they gone unbeaten — in the 2010-11 season when they went 8-0 when Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer were leading the way.
The Kings are 2-2 in preseason play, coming off a 132-100 win earlier in the week over the same Israeli team the Jazz beat last year and an earlier win over Phoenix with losses to Golden State and the L.A. Lakers.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder will be looking for an improved defensive performance from his team after complaining about his team’s defense in the 123-112 win over Portland Sunday night.
He praised his reserves for their play as they scored 59 of Utah’s 123 points and he gave them credit for inspiring the starters with their defensive effort. He said in both that game and the previous game against Adelaide, the starters didn’t play well defensively.
“Both those games the first quarter defensively we were not good, we were poor,” he said, “Those guys (starters) come out of the game and then when you watch somebody doing at the level we want to do it, it is helpful.”
Snyder is well aware that the Jazz will be facing the same team it will play six days later in the season opener but doesn’t think it will affect how they approach the game
“Teams are always a little different in the last preseason game, how they play,” he said. “I wouldn’t say teams don’t play to win, but there’s obviously a different agenda when the season starts and they count. We want to try to win and use the game to get better and prepare for them the following week and that means a lot of things.”
Derrick Favors, who is beginning his ninth season in the NBA, knows the Jazz will be coming right back to play the Kings next week.
“It’s definitely kind of challenging because you don’t want to give away too many plays or too many secrets right before the regular season starts when it counts,” he said. “We’re just going to out there and play as hard as we can make sure we're sharp on everything offensively and defensively, have fun and hopefully no one gets hurt.”
So far the Jazz have been pretty healthy with just Dante Exum missing a couple of games with a sore knee and Raul Neto sitting out with a hamstring injury for at least two more weeks. Donovan Mitchell rolled his ankle against Portland but has been practicing this week.
The Kings have used several different lineups in the preseason with three players starting every game, center Willie Cauley-Stein, second-year players Justin Jackson and De’Aaron Fox. The Kings also have the No. 2 draft pick from last year, Marvin Bagley Jr. of Duke, Frank Mason III and Buddy Hield.
A pleasant surprise in the preseason has been 6-10 Harry Giles, a second-year player out of Duke, who had to miss last season with an injury. Giles has been the team’s top scorer in the preseason at 15.3 points per game.
After Thursday’s game, the Jazz will have nothing but practice before they head back to Sacramento for the season opener Wednesday night, Oct. 15. The home opener will be Friday night, Oct. 17, against the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.