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Game Preview: Jazz Face Pelicans In NBA Return

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz attempts to drive past Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a game at Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 23, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz will face the New Orleans Pelicans in the first official NBA game since March 11. The league has been suspended since Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Now, the two teams prepare to make history as they retake the floor inside the NBA’s basketball campus in Orlando.

The Jazz enter the game with a record of 41-23, owning the fourth-best record in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, the Pelicans sit in the Western Conference’s eight-seed with a record of 28-36. The two teams have met three times so far this season, with the Jazz winning two of the three meetings.

Each of the three meetings has made for a memorable game with no game decided by more than eight points. On January 6, the Jazz defeated the Pelicans on a last-second blocked shot from Gobert against Pelicans star Brandon Ingram.

On January 16, Gobert missed a potential game-winning free-throw with less than one second remaining on the clock before the Jazz fell to the Pelicans in overtime 138-132.

The matchups have provided plenty of scoring between All-Star wings Ingram and Donovan Mitchell. The Pelicans forward is averaging 39 points per game in three meetings against the Jazz this season, his highest average against any team. Meanwhile, Mitchell is averaging 34 points per game against the Pelicans, his high against any this season.

Who Will Be Available?

The Jazz will be without sharpshooting forward Bojan Bogdanovic. The Croatian big man underwent season-ending wrist surgery in May and didn’t travel with the Jazz to finish the season.

Meanwhile, star rookie Zion Williamson is considered a game-time decision by the Pelicans. Williamson was cleared from quarantine at the Orlando bubble on Tuesday, after leaving the team to address a family matter in mid-July.

Williamson will have had only two practices, and one shootaround to prepare for the game if the Pelicans medical staff clears him before Thursday’s game. The rookie didn’t participate in any contract drills Tuesday night.

“Our goal is to make the playoffs but we’re not going to do anything ridiculous,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said of rushing Williamson back. “We’re not going to make crazy decisions.”

The Jazz and Pelicans tip-off at 4:30 pm MT. The game will be broadcast nationally on TNT and locally on AT&T SportsNet.