Jazz look to maintain winning rhythm vs. Hawks
After each team got an unexpected day off Wednesday, the Utah Jazz and visiting Atlanta Hawks will face each other Friday night in Salt Lake City.
This will be the Jazz's first game on their own court since they defeated the Los Angeles Clippers at home on New Year's Day. Utah is back from a six-game, 10-day road trip that ended one game sooner than scheduled.
The NBA postponed the Jazz's game at Washington on Wednesday because the Wizards didn't have the minimum eight available players due to contact tracing regulations. Utah ended up finishing its longest road trip of the season with a 4-2 record, including Tuesday's 117-87 blowout win at Cleveland.
"It's a weird time, but we also have a job to do," Utah guard Donovan Mitchell said. "The key is staying locked in on the task at hand with basketball and being unselfish off the court. We've got to continue to be safe and make sure guys are being as careful as possible."
COVID-19 safety protocols also forced a postponement of the Hawks' game at Phoenix on Wednesday. After snapping a four-game losing streak with a 112-94 home win over Philadelphia on Monday, Atlanta's game at Phoenix on Wednesday was postponed to a later date that has yet to be determined.
Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce even had to isolate himself Wednesday in Phoenix after coming in close contact with one of the team's traveling staff members who recently tested positive for the coronavirus.
Pierce received clearance to travel with the Hawks to Salt Lake City on Thursday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The Atlanta team employee with COVID-19 and another staff member, who is not a player, remained in isolation in Phoenix while the team headed to Utah. The Hawks wrap up this road trip Saturday in Portland.
"It's an unfortunate situation for the game, it's an unfortunate situation across the league," Pierce told the Atlanta paper in regard to Wednesday's game being postponed. "I think for us, more than anything, it's just making sure the guys can get on the court and get some work in. This whole season, the court time is limited. So we can't afford to lose court time just because a game has been postponed, because that just sets us back even further."
Both team's star players come into this contest after big performances. Mitchell scored 27 points in the rout of the Cavs, while Atlanta's Trae Young tossed in 26 points against the Sixers after only scoring 22 points total in his previous two games.
"We were just playing fast, getting back to what we do, and the shots were just going in," Young said. "You could see the confidence with everybody rolling."
This begins a home-heavy portion of the schedule for the Jazz, who have seven of their next eight games in Salt Lake City. Though Utah beat the Clippers at home two weeks ago, the Jazz are only 1-2 at Vivint Arena this season.
The Jazz could be without Joe Ingles, who's missed the past two games with right Achilles soreness after playing in 384 straight regular-season games. Atlanta's Bogdan Bogdanovic is also nursing an avulsion fracture in his right knee.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 14, 2021