The Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz begin their three-game road trip on Thursday with a stop in Atlanta to play the Hawks.
The Jazz have won two straight games and beat Sacramento 119-113 on Tuesday. The Hawks are coming off a 117-108 loss at Brooklyn and have dropped three of their last four games.
The Jazz have won the last three meetings against Atlanta and easily won both contests last season, winning by 24 in Salt Lake City and by 21 in Atlanta. But the Hawks are 3-0 at home this season, their best home start since going 4-0 to open the 2014-15 campaign.
Rudy Gobert continues to be one of Utah’s most consistent players. He has scored a double-double in six of the team’s seven games and has been in double figures for rebounds in every contest. He averages 15.7 points and 17.6 rebounds. He was last week’s Western Conference Player of the Week, the first time he’s picked up the honor since March 2019.
But Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and veteran point guard Mike Conley have also been huge contributors to the hot start. Mitchell averages a team-leading 24.9 points and scored a season-high 36 against the Kings, 17 of those in the third quarter. Conley is averaging 16.3 points and 3.3 assists; he scored 30 against Sacramento.
«To be able to play off each other and be in close games like (the Kings game) where shots may stop falling, but fortunately I’ve got a 15-year veteran there and can say, ‘You got it and I’ll stay out of the way.’ «
Utah’s Hassan Whiteside said, «If you’re a casual basketball fan, you might not know who Mike is, but people who really know basketball believe he’s one of the most underrated players of all time.»
Atlanta had a rough finish with its game against Brooklyn on Wednesday. The game was tied 75-75 with 4:55 left in the third quarter, but Kevin Durant scored seven straight points and the Nets went on for an easy win.
Hawks coach Nate McMillan said the team would continue to try to build on each previous game.
«It’ll be preparation for Thursday night,» McMillan said. «We talked about our last game against Washington, some of the good things that we did … shot selection, taking care of the basketball. You know, the defense was connected. We wanted to build on that game. That is always our approach, to be better than we were our last game. For (the Utah game) we’ve got to be better. We’ve got another really good team coming into our building and we have to be better on both ends of the floor than we were.»
Atlanta’s De’Andre Hunter scored a season-high 26 against Brooklyn and Trae Young added 21 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
«We didn’t have the ball movement that we needed as a group (against Brooklyn),» McMillan said.
This is the second back-to-back for the Hawks. They split the first, beating New Orleans and losing to Washington.
This will be Atlanta’s final home game before a difficult four-game road trip that sends them to Phoenix, Golden State, Utah and Denver.
–Field Level Media