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Utah Jazz vs Atlanta Hawks Game Preview

Game 63: Hawks (35-28) @ Jazz (29-33)
Location: The Aunt Viv Smart "You better get your butt home by curfew, Will" Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
Time: 7:00 p.m. (MT)
TV: ROOT Sports • Radio: 1280 AM / 97.5 FM

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Utah Jazz go for their 30th win of the season. Now, now, yes; we all know that this is pretty late in the season to finally get that 30th win, but beggars can't be choosers. The sub .500 Jazz are not going to have an easy time of it because they are hosting the surging Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have won four of their last five and head coach Mike Budenholzer has them humming along nicely now that their rotation has settled down a bit after the three team trade (between the Jazz, Hawks, and Chicago Bulls). The trade deadline deal shuffled point guards around for the most part, with the Jazz getting Shelvin Mack from the Hawks, and the Hawks getting Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls. Tonight will be the first opportunity for a "revenge game," though I don't think we're going to see much of one. As it stands, Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroder are still a lot better than our point guard lot, and right now our best was the guy they didn't even want. It's a nice narrative, but there's more to this game -- and these two teams -- than one trade.

Actually, there are a lot of links between the two teams, from Pistol Pete Maravich, Dominique Wilkins, Marvin Williams, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, Devin Harris, and now these point guards. It doesn't even stop there as Jazz head coach Quin Snyder used to be an assistant under Coach Bud. The Hawks swept the Jazz last season, but Utah pulled out an OT win on their home court back in November. That one point win was the only win of that four game road trip for the good guys. The Hawks are on a five game trip, and after dropping the first to the Golden State Warriors in OT have bounced back for wins against the Lakers and Clippers. The game directly after tonight is against the Toronto Raptors. So, if anything, the Hawks could be looking past the Jazz.

If we are lucky they will be doing that, but I don't think they will. There is a respect there -- especially after dropping a game to Utah earlier on in the season.

Atlanta is a defense first team, being 2nd in the NBA in DRTG and 6th in the NBA in Opponents PPG. They rarely put the other team to the line, defend almost every shot from every location, and most of all, are absolutely tenacious in forcing turn overs. And honestly, what else can you expect from a team where Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore, Jeff Teague, Thabo Sefolosha, Kyle Korver, Dennis Schroder, and Al Horford are all averaging between 1.8 to 0.8 spg. This ability to force turn overs plays into their transition game -- which all adds up to Atlanta playing at the 11th fastest pace in the NBA this season.

If there is a weakness in their defense it's their ability to collect enough of their defensive boards, where they rank only 26th. This was exploited in the game in November where Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Trevor Booker, and Alec Burks were hitting the offensive glass. Alec isn't available tonight, but neither will Hawks bigman Tiago Splitter. That may force ATL to go small, or roll dangerous with new addition Kris Humphries (who has a three point shot this year) and Mike Scott (whose nickname is "The Threegional Manager").

Utah isn't ready for the jelly of Atlanta's point guards. Raul Neto and Trey Burke would be nice off the bench if they were one player. But they aren't. And Shelvin will be motivated, but I think Atlanta has the scouting report on him and know what to expect. As a consequence, the Jazz bigs need to win tonight.

Kent Bazemore can get hot, and Kyle Korver can't be left open. Thabo Sefolosha is legit on defense, and even Tim Hardaway Jr. is getting playing time. Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward are the best wings in this game. But there's no depth behind them right now. So, again, the Jazz bigs need to win tonight.

I hope they can.

Hawks player stats:

2015 2016 GM 63 ATL at UTA - Hawks Player Stats

Jazz player stats:

2015 2016 GM 63 ATL at UTA - Jazz Player Stats

Injuries / Absences:

Utah will once again be without Dante Exum, Alec Burks, and Tibor Pleiss. Atlanta without Tiago Splitter, and Lamar Patterson looks to be inactive tonight.