With the Utah Jazz on a 9-game win streak, they wrap up a 4-game home stand tonight hosting the 20-50 Atlanta
Ankle Sprains Hawks. Atlanta enters tonight having lost 6 straight and 7 of their last 8, the only win a 1-point victory over the equally woeful Phoenix Suns.
The last time we saw the Hawks on January 22, it was the wake-up call game for Utah, a 104-90 loss. In the next game, the Jazz beat the Detroit Pistons in overtime and sparked the turnaround we’re still riding, having won 21 of the 23 games since the Atlanta loss. By all means, this should be a win, but we just saw Saturday against the Kings that in the NBA anyone can get hot at anytime. A loss tonight would be damaging to Utah’s playoff positioning. I don’t want to miss out on home court in the first round of the playoffs because the Jazz went 0-2 against one of the worst teams in the league, so let’s not do that. OK? OK.
When: Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 7:00pm MDT
Where: Vivint SmartHome Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
TV: AT&T Sports Net - Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Derrick Favors - Left knee soreness (OUT)
Thabo Sefolosha - Knee (OUT)
Raul Neto - Wrist (OUT)
Tony Bradley - Concussion (OUT)
Kent Bazemore - Knee (OUT)
John Collins - Ankle (OUT)
DeAndre’ Bembry - Abdominal strain (OUT)
Antonius Cleveland - Ankle (OUT)
Malcolm Delaney - Ankle (OUT)
Jaylen Morris - Ankle (OUT)
What to watch for
Derrick Favors’ absence
For the second time in the current streak, Favors will sit out with an injury that seemingly popped up out of nowhere. This time Favs is experiencing some knee soreness and we have a little more notice. Against the Magic earlier this month he was a game-time scratch. In that one, Jonas Jerebko stepped into the starting spot and filled in nicely, scoring 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting and 3-of-5 from deep and grabbing 4 rebounds. He was a +12 in 20 minutes. However, with Atlanta’s front court depth taking a hit with the John Collins injury, it might make more sense to go small and start Jae Crowder in Favors’ spot.
Regardless, this injury means all non-Gobert Center minutes will likely go to Ekpe Udoh, who will need to be better than he was against Orlando. In 10 minutes, he grabbed 5 rebounds and blocked 3 shots, but was a -8 on the floor. Unfortunately, he just offers nothing offensively so he has to be surrounded by a lineup that can get buckets.
This Hawks team loves to jack up shots from long range. With nearly 36 percent of their shots coming from beyond the arc, Atlanta shoots the 3 at the 8th highest rate in the league, and they’re not too bad at it. Their 36.6 percent shooting from there is good for 13th in the league. Keep an eye on rookie shooting guard (and former Donovan Mitchell teammate) Damion Lee. After signing a 10-day contract with the Hawks, Lee has appeared in three games and is scoring 11 points in 21 minutes per game on 46 percent shooting from 3. With the myriad of Atlanta injuries, Mitchell should get a good amount of time guarding his college teammate.
Leading the team in 3-point attempts is Taurean Prince, shooting nearly 39 percent on 5.4 attempts per game. Running Atlanta’s shooters off the 3-point line will be critical. If you need to let someone take them, though, think about leaving Dennis Schroder, who’s shooting 29 percent on nearly 4 attempts per game.
Most Likely Jazz Killer: Taurean Prince
In the January loss to the Hawks, Prince absolutely torched the Jazz. With 17 points on 11 shots, he was a +20 on the floor. In the 25 minutes he was in the game, Atlanta had an offensive rating of 124 and a defensive rating of 90.
I leave you with a frightening thought from Jazz Tweep McCade Pearson:
My irrational fear is that the Hawks are a portal to a separate universe...and two months ago we entered it, and on Tuesday, we will come out of it.— McCade Pearson (@McCadeP8) March 18, 2018