When the Utah Jazz enter TD Garden tonight to take on the Boston Celtics, Gordon Hayward won’t be on the court, denying Jazz fans the opportunity they’ve wanted since July 4th of seeing Utah take down the former player. While that takes some of the drama out of tonight’s game, I would sure still like to take down his new team.
That’s easier said than done though, since the retooled Celtics are one of the hottest teams in the league even without Hayward’s services. The Jazz enter tonight at 13-15 and riding a 4-game losing streak. The Celtics, meanwhile, are 24-6 and recently acquired point guard Kyrie Irving has been playing like an MVP candidate. The December gauntlet continues unabated, but you have to think this one might have a little extra meaning for the Jazz. Also, the Celtics weren’t the only team to steal a franchise player this offseason. Are you ready for the JONAS JEREBKO REVENGE GAME?!
When: Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, 5:30 PM MT
Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 and 97.5 The Zone
Joe Johnson - Wrist - Available
Dante Exum - Shoulder - Out
Raul Neto - Concussion - Out
Gordon Hayward - Ankle - Out
Marcus Morris - Knee - Out
What To Watch For:
Mitchell v Tatum
Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum are two of the hottest rookies this year, basically universally regarded as being in the top 3 of this rookie class, along with Ben Simmons. With a 32 point outing in Wednesday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, Mitchell took over the highest scoring spot in the class at 17.8 points per game. Tatum has been the most efficient rookie in the league, shooting 50% both from the field and from 3. Both rookies are heavily leaned on, with Tatum 4th in the class at 30.5 minutes per game and Mitchell 6th with 29.9 minutes per game. Mitchell and Tatum will share the court tonight a lot, and something tells me we’re going to see some fireworks. The last time the two met on the court, Mitchell got the best of Tatum, providing a couple of highlight reel plays. You can bet Tatum remembers this:
The return of Joe Johnson
The Jazz announced yesterday that Johnson would be available to play tonight after being out of action since November 1st with a ligament issue in his wrist. Johnson missed 20 games with the injury and I suspect it was responsible for his poor shooting to start the year. In the 7 games he played before his exit, Johnson was 2-of-15 from 3 and shooting a measly 39% from the field. Breaking news: It’s hard to shoot a basketball with a jacked up wrist.
While Johnson has missed a big chunk of the season, I don’t think reintegrating him into the lineup will be particularly difficult for Quin Snyder. One of the biggest problems for the Jazz this season has been scoring draughts. Iso Joe’s specialty? Ending scoring draughts.
Most Likely Jazz-Killer: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie is the Celtics’ leading scorer at 24 points per game. He’s shooting 40% from 3 and a career high effective field goal percentage of 56.3%. He’s coming off his 8th 30+ point performance this season after he dropped 33 in a win over the Denver Nuggets Wednesday. Long story short, Kyrie is probably going to be a problem for the Jazz tonight.