Tonight the Utah Jazz (8-8) face off against the Atlanta Hawks (10-5) in a game with a slightly early 6 PM MT start. The Hawks boast the second best record in the East behind the Cleveland Cavaliers and are coming off a win at the Pacers on Wednesday. The Jazz are entering tonight’s game fresh off a much-needed win on Wednesday at home against a tired and short-handed Nuggets team.
This game will be a better indicator of how good the Jazz are with both George Hill and Gordon Hayward on the court. 17 games into the season and this will be just the third game they’ve played together. The Jazz are 2-0 in games they’ve both played, beating the Knicks at MSG in addition to the 25 point drubbing the Jazz handed to the Nuggets on Tuesday. All 30 NBA teams play tonight as all 30 teams rested yesterday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Apparently Gordon Hayward and Joe Ingles spent yesterday together and were trying to figure out how to carve a turkey:
This may be the best Instagram story to date pic.twitter.com/3RHsXiaDMB— Hayley Byrnes (@HayleyByrnes) November 24, 2016
The Hawks’ offseason acquisition of Dwight Howard has yielded positive results so far as Howard is posting a career high field goal percentage of 62.5%. That is the second-best field goal percentage in the NBA behind Rudy Gobert’s 63.4% among players on pace to score more than 300 field goals. It will be interesting to see how Gobert and the Jazz (and the fans) react to Howard after his recent comments about making his mom cry by jokingly telling her he was signing with Utah.
Howard is not the only player boasting career highs after finding himself on a new team this season. Hill, having only played 8 games this season, is putting up some incredible numbers as well. Hill’s 3 point field goal percentage of 44.2% and overall field goal percentage of 55% are contributing to a 20.6 points per game average (all career highs). The Jazz are 5-3 in games Hill has played.
The Jazz are hoping to turn the narrative of the season and team from one of injuries and what-ifs to one of putting the pieces together and winning. Derrick Favors (knee contusion) and Alec Burks (athroscopic procedure on his ankle) will both be out again tonight and how soon they will be at full strength is a big question mark. Burks has been out all season and underwent the aforementioned procedure on November 1st. On Wednesday’s game broadcast, Craig Bolerjack of the Utah Jazz TV broadcast said that we might being seeing Burks sooner rather later. But yesterday, Jazz beat writer for the Deseret News, Jody Genessy tweeted this out:
Last week, Snyder said he hoped Burks would return in 1-2 months. https://t.co/wBOPVOOkGI— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) November 25, 2016
While it would be nice for the Jazz to have both Favors and Burks in the lineup, the Jazz need to continue to show they can win games with them out because it might be a while. Tonight’s game against the Rockets will be a good test of how good the Jazz are, despite injuries.