Entering Philips Arena tonight to take on the Atlanta Hawks, the Jazz (19-27) are 2-1 in their last three games. However, Utah hasn’t won consecutive games since the 6-game win streak from November 22 to December 4. Thus, tonight presents an opportunity for the Jazz to start this Eastern Conference road swing on a good note and build toward a new streak. Rudy Gobert has returned, which means the team is as healthy as it’s been all season.
The Hawks (13-32) aren’t working with a whole lot this season. Projected to be one of the worst teams in the league this year, Atlanta is holding true to form, tied with the Sacramento Kings for the NBA’s worst record. They are playing some decent ball lately, though, as they are 3-2 in their last five with wins over the Nuggets, Spurs and Pelicans. The Jazz should be able to win this one tonight, but they will have to earn it.
When: Monday, Jan. 22, 2018 • 5:30 PM MST
Where: Philips Arena • Atlanta, GA
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 and 97.5 The Zone
Streaming: Let me check.... Yeah, still no
Dante Exum - Shoulder - OUT
Rodney Hood - Leg contusion - OUT
Thabo Sefolosha - Knee - OUT
De’Andre Bembry - Groin - OUT
What To Watch For:
Jazz starting lineup effectiveness
Injuries to Rodney Hood and Thabo Sefolosha have limited some of the experimenting we had previously seen Quin Snyder doing with the starting lineup prior to Rudy’s return. Whether we would’ve been right back to starting three non-shooters either way, there’s no way to know. What we do know is that for now we’re likely back to starting Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert together with Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles. If Ingles shows a willingness to shoot the ball aggressively, like he did Saturday against the Clippers (8-of-15, 5-of-10 from 3 for a career high 21 points), the lineup stands a better chance. If not, the spacing may be suffocating for the offense like it has been much of the year.
Remember that first round pick the Jazz parted ways with in the trade that brought George Hill to Salt Lake City for one injury-plagued season? That pick became Baylor’s Taurean Prince, something that often gets overlooked. To be clear, I’m not saying the Hill trade was a mistake. It was a calculated risk that needed to be made that ended up having a short term payout. It is what it is. Meanwhile, though, Prince has become a player for these Hawks in his second professional season, starting every game this season and coming in as Atlanta’s third-leading scorer with 12.3 points per game. He’s shooting nearly 40% from 3 on 4.5 shots per game. I liked Prince as a prospect and his play is an interesting glance into what might have been.
Most Likely Jazz-Killer: ....Dennis ....Schröder?
I’m going to be honest, no one on this Hawks team really scares me from a defensive standpoint for the Jazz. Utah has been known to get burned by point guards in the past and Schröder is Atlanta’s volume shooter at 18 shots per game, so I guess he’s my pick. Although he’s only shooting 30% from beyond the arc, so expect the Jazz to go under some screens there unless he gets hot.