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How to watch Jazz-Hawks: Utah continues playoff push against Atlanta


Utah Jazz (29-33) vs. Atlanta Hawks (35-28)

Vivint Arena

Tuesday, 7 p.m.

TV: ROOT

Radio: 1280 AM, 97.5 FM


Reasons to watch

The Utah Jazz (29-33) find themselves in the ninth seed and a game and a half back of the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference standings heading into Monday night's game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Atlanta Hawks (35-28) are in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference. While they are only two games behind the Miami Heat for the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the first round, they are also just three games ahead of the ninth seed Detroit Pistons and face the possibility of missing the playoffs a year after being the top seed in the east. With playoff positioning on the line for both teams, you can expect a physical and competitive basketball game in Salt Lake City. If the Jazz are going to catch the Rockets for the eighth and last playoff spot, home games against quality opponents are games the Jazz need to win.

Key Matchup

Whenever the Jazz and Hawks get together, the key matchup will always be Derrick Favors against Paul Millsap at the power forward position. In the summer of 2013, the Jazz let veteran bigs Millsap and Al Jefferson leave in free agency so Favors could move into the starting lineup. Favors has blossomed in his starter role. This season he is averaging career highs in points (16.9) and assists (1.6) per game to go along with 8.6 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, 1.1 steals and 52 percent shooting from the field.

With as dominant as Favors has been for the Jazz, Millsap has been better for the Hawks. Behind averages of 17.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game, Millsap made his third straight All-Star game this season. Millsap has been given the green light to let it fly from downtown with the Hawks. After only taking 113 threes over seven seasons in Utah, he has taken 604 threes in three seasons with Atlanta and has made 35 percent of them. The last time the two faced off was Nov. 15 in Atlanta. Favors had 23 points, 9 rebounds, three assists and two blocks while Millsap had 28 points, six rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Also, keep a close eye on the Shelvin Mack vs. Jeff Teague/Dennis Schröder matchup. Before he came to Utah at the trade deadline, Mack was playing third fiddle behind both Teague and Schröder with the Hawks. In Atlanta Mack was averaging 3.9 points and 1.6 assists in 7.5 minutes per game. In Utah, Mack has earned a starting role and is averaging 11.8 points, 3.8 assists, and 2.6 rebounds in 28 minutes per game.

Trends

Before Saturdays game against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Jazz had lost the previous five and eight of the last ten games. Behind 28 points, 11 rebounds and six blocked shots from Favors and 24 points, five rebounds, and four assists from Gordon Hayward, the Jazz were able to get a 106-94 victory in New Orleans.

Mondays game against the Jazz will be the fourth game of the Hawks five-game road trip. They are 2-1 on the trip with the one loss being in overtime against the Golden State Warriors. The Hawks are 5-5 in their last 10 games and are 16-16 away from Atlanta. The Jazz are 19-12 when playing in front of the hometown fans.

Final Word

The Houston Rockets went into Toronto on Sunday night and came away with a 113-107 statement win over the Raptors. The Jazz need to start getting some statement wins to build momentum for a playoff push.

Rodney Hood averages 16 points on 46 percent shooting from the floor and 39 percent shooting on threes in games the Jazz win. In losses, Hood averages just 13.2 points on 40 percent shooting from the floor and 34 percent shooting from downtown. Hood will be matched up against former Jazzman Kyle Korver, who isn't necessarily known for his shutdown defense. Going to Hood early and often could lead to a big night for Hood, and a convincing statement win that the Jazz are looking for.

David Brinkerhoff is a student at Utah Valley University studying sports broadcasting and journalism. Contact him at dcbrinkerhoff0@gmail.com