With only six games remaining, the Utah Jazz are in Boston tonight to take on the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Boston Celtics. To say the Jazz are short-handed tonight may be an understatement and as such, they are massive underdogs.
The Jazz will be without Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, Rudy Gay, and Lauri Markkanen while also having Kelly Olynyk listed as doubtful to play. The Jazz would not have been favored to win this game regardless, but with the absent players, ESPN’s analytics give the Jazz just a 5.4% chance to win.
That being said, two separate times this month when the Jazz have been riddled with injuries - or adding fuel to the tank depending on who you ask - Talen Horton-Tucker has gone nuclear and single-handedly willed the Jazz to victory.
The first time was on March 11th when the Jazz played the Hornets with a good chunk of the roster out. THT went off for 37 points, 8 rebounds, and 10 assists on just 24 shots.
The second time was just a couple of days ago on March 29th when THT had a career-high 41 points on just 25 shots while adding in 4 rebounds and 5 assists versus the Spurs.
The Jazz won both games, but its fair to say that picking up wins against the (probably) tanking hornets and the (definitely) tanking Spurs is a whole different task than beating the 53-24 Celtics who are only 2 games back from the one-seed in the East. They are also fresh off of demolishing the current 1-seeded Milwaukee Bucks winning by 41 points last night in Milwaukee. With that win, although unlikely, the Celtics will be looking to make a final push for the 1-seed with their remaining 5 games.
The only real advantage the Jazz have is that the Celtics are on a back-to-back. Despite that, the Celtics have everything to play for while - frankly speaking - the Jazz would benefit from losing. I’d be willing to be that Danny Ainge will be rooting for his former team tonight.