It’s been over a year since Gordon Hayward decided then reneged then decided again that he was going to become a Boston Celtic (no phone call to Gail required). This will be the first time he travels to Utah. Last year on the first game of the season Gordon suffered a gruesome injury to his ankle that kept him out for the remainder of the season. As such the salt that awaited the Benedict Jazzman had to be held in storage until this year. Luckily, the schedule makers didn’t make Jazz fans wait until March this time. The Utah Jazz finally face the Boston Celtics.
While many Boston fans out there have the attitude of “Why are you still mad at this guy for leaving?” while they still use the name Ray Allen as an obscenity, this game is going to be an existential and cathartic experience for the home crowd.
This same group of fans eagerly awaiting what the then Knicks unprotected lottery pick would become and watched as Gordon Hayward became its heir. They watched and rooted for the development of the scrawny kid out of Butler even as Paul George blossomed in Indiana and saw success sooner. They took his side as Ty Corbin and Kevin O’Connor favored veterans over his and other youngsters’ development. They believed in his ability to lead them to the playoffs. They believed he would stay. They put up billboards. The believed him that he was really having second thoughts about leaving Utah even after every damn good reporter said contrary.
All for naught.
The golden boy left for his college coach to a team—at the time—that was more a contemporary to Utah than a superior. Utah Jazz fans were left with a what if. Now with a playoff contender, Utah can only think of what if they had Gordon Hayward with this Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert core. Dennis Lindsey probably tries not to recall that terrible flight home he had after finding out Gordon Hayward turned them down.
Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune even reported that the Jazz had a deal ready to go for Kyle Lowry, but instead decided that they’d be loyal to Gordon Hayward and his “earnest” free agency meetings. Just another way Gordon Hayward screwed up this Jazz team’s plans for the future.
Now to the present.
The Utah Jazz are coming off their first win at home against Dallas which put them at 1-4 for the season at Vivint. It’s their worst start at home since their inaugural year in the NBA as the New Orleans Jazz. While the Jazz looked better against Dallas, one can’t be sure if they’re fixing things or if it’s just smoke and mirrors against a lottery team on the 2nd night of a back to back. The Jazz were supposed to beat them and they did.
The Boston Celtics are coming into this game fresh off an overtime win against the Phoenix Suns. The dumpster fire in the valley of the sun decided to show out against Boston and push them to extra time. This could help Utah as Boston will be tired. Then again, the last time a good team came into Utah with tired legs (Toronto), the Jazz were the ones who were run out of the building.
Ricky Rubio—the point guard that Gordon Hayward helped bring to Utah only to then bail—has been struggling to start out the season. He struggled last year to start the season then picked up in January. Excuse the Jazz if they can’t exactly exert the same amount of patience this year. Expectations are a bit of a limiting factor. He has the 4th highest turnover ratio of any starting guard in the NBA and is close to career lows in 2PT% and 3PT% to start the season. He’s been struggling on defense and opposing guards have been lighting Rubio up like a Christmas tree.
That might spell good news for Terry Rozier. Scary Terry will be getting the start as Kyrie Irving is out for a memorial for his grandfather. will be coming into this game trying to give Gordon Hayward a W against his former team. While all eyes will be on Gordon Hayward, the matchup between Rubio and Rozier could bee well decide this game as he has a very favorable matchup against the struggling Jazz guard.
When: 7:30PM MT · Friday November 9th, 2018
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena · Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN
Radio: 1280AM/97.5 FM/ESPN Radio
Raul Neto — Hamstring — OUT
Daniel Thies — Foot — OUT
What to watch for
Joe Ingles vs Gordon Hayward
There’s something satisfying about knowing that the NBA’s biggest heel and Gordon Hayward’s good friend while in Utah—Joe Ingles—will be the one guarding him. Joe Ingles can get under everyone’s skin. Gordon Hayward may have got Joe his big contract, but he almost left Ingles marooned on a lottery team with his departure.
Joe Ingles has been struggling over the last few games. Joe has to count his lucky stars that Rubio is struggling so mightily because if he wasn’t, Ingles would be the big story. Over the last 5 games, Joe Ingles has shot 34% from the field and a very ugly 28% from three. This isn’t the sharpshooter from down under.
All eyes will be on this matchup because of Gordon Hayward, but Joe Ingles is in a bad slump and needs to bust out.
Jae Crowder BRINGING THE SALT
Enjoy Jae Crowder being as real as real.
Jae Crowder on that game in Boston where the fans chanted Hayward’s name: “My emotions were very high, I was very upset with the response of my fans in Boston at the time. I played upset, and I played fearless that night. I had a good night on both ends of the court.”— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 8, 2018
Crowder on playing with the Jazz now, after that night: "I feel like playing for this organization was meant to be. It was meant for me to stop in Boston on the way here, and vice versa for him (Hayward)."— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) November 8, 2018
GET YOUR POPCORN READY.
The Battle of the Bigs
Rudy Gobert has started slow on defense, but has been an absolute force on offense. He’s a much bigger part of the game plan. It’s lob city to the Jazz’s premier big man and Al Horford is going to have not only be paying attention to the paint but the skies as well as the Jazz will be tossing lobs to the Stifle Tower.
On the other side of the court, Al Horford is the kind of big man that gives Rudy Gobert trouble. He’s a facilitator like Jokic and Gasol. He forces Gobert not only to be guarding the shot, but analyze the play like a point guard. He’s a difficult cover. Against Dallas, Rudy looked like he was getting back into his defensive groove. Utah needs it as their offense still looks like a work in process.
Will Gordon Hayward get booed?
Yeah. Yeah, he will.
Had said Kyrie Irving was playing tonight. He’s not. He will be at a memorial for his grandfather.
Kyrie Irving said he'll miss one of the November games against the #Jazz to attend his grandfather's memorial service. #Celtics play at UTAH Nov 9 and host #Jazz on Nov 17.— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) October 31, 2018