The loss on Tuesday was flat-out embarrassing for a team that had been playing as well as the Utah Jazz. But playing down to lesser teams is not something new to this team, it’s been one of their flaws this year.
Last time the Jazz lost to the Hawks, it produced the the fifth-longest win streak in franchise history (tied with two other win streaks). Hopefully, losing at home is the kind of thing the Jazz can use to propel themselves not just into the playoffs, but to a higher seed as well (they sit at eight right now).
Tonight’s game is the first of three straight games on the road. This one will be the easiest, but like Utah has learned multiple times already this year, there are no “easy” games in the NBA.
When: Thursday, March 22, 2018, 6:30 p.m. MDT
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas
TV: AT&T Sports Net - Rocky Mountain
Radio: 1280 AM/97.5 FM The Zone
Thabo Sefolosha - OUT (Knee)
Raul Neto - OUT (Wrist)
Tony Bradley - OUT (Concussion)
Derrick Favors - Available for tonight’s game
Seth Curry - OUT (Leg)
Wesley Matthews - OUT (Leg)
Dennis Smith Jr. - OUT (Ankle)
What to watch for
How will Utah bounce back?
Losing to Atlanta was rough and there isn’t anything more to be said about it. There isn’t time to mope around because one more bad loss could wind up being the difference between not just a fifth seed and the eighth seed, but being in or out of the playoffs.
This game will be a chance for Utah to prove they are just like the best teams in the league by putting a bad loss behind them and putting on a show against an opponent that is inferior on paper.
Utah’s 3-point shooting
Utah has shot 25 percent or worst from deep in 11 games this year. Both of Utah’s last two games fall into that category (the Jazz are 1-10 in those games, with the sole win being against Sacramento on Saturday). The Jazz have shot a combined 12-58 (20.7 percent) from three in their past two games. This cannot continue.
It’s not like the Jazz need to be sharpshooters to win games. In their first eight games of March (all wins), they made 35.4 percent of 3-pointers — good for 22nd in the league in that span. But they do at least need to make more shots to avoid scrambling for offense late in the game when everyone is cold as ice.
Joe Ingles will be a particular player to keep an eye on. After starting March out shooting 50.0 percent in eight games on 6.3 attempts per game, he has made just four of his last 16 shots from deep (25 percent).
Most Likely Jazz Killer: J.J. Barea
I’ve said it before and it’s worth repeating, Barea just always seems to have great games against Utah. He’s averaging 11.5 points per game this year but has scored 17 in each of his two games against Utah this year. In his last game against Utah on Feb. 24, Barea had 12 assists to go with his 17 points.
With Dennis Smith Jr. likely out for this game, Barea will get the starting nod. The Jazz just allowed a career-high 41 points to a point guard, hopefully Utah puts some focus on keeping Barea out of attack mode.