UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Look To Bounce Back Against Surprising Knicks

Jan 6, 2021, 9:55 AM

New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)...

New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz will face the surprisingly hot New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. After losing their first two games of the season, the Knicks have won four of their last five to improve to 4-3 on the season.

Most impressive about the Knicks victories is all four have come against teams win winning records, including a 20 point blowout over the Milwaukee Bucks last week.

The Jazz meanwhile are hoping to bounce from their first road loss of the season when they face the Knicks. The team is 3-1 away from Utah this year, but was trounced Tuesday night by the Brooklyn Nets 130-96.

The game marks the third stop in a seven-game road trip for the Jazz who have stops remaining in Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland, and Washington before returning to Utah.

Knicks Thriving Under New Coaching

The young Knicks roster has embraced new head coach Tom Thibodeau’s hard nose defensive reputation en route to their winning record. The Knicks are the ninth-best defensive team in the NBA, a stark improvement from last year’s 23rd overall ranking.

The team is led in scoring by Julius Randle who is averaging 22.1 points per game, while adding 11.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists.

Former Jazzman Alec Burks is averaging an impressive 20.7 points per game but has missed the last four Knicks games with an ankle injury. Burks was listed as questionable before the Knicks win Monday over the Atlanta Hawks before being ruled out at game time.

Second-year guard RJ Barrett has thrived under Thibodeau, averaging 18.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in nearly 39 minutes per game.

Former Jazz assistant coach Johnnie Bryant is the associate head coach under Thibodeau.

Jazz Impressive Road Play

The Jazz had played their best basketball of the season so far on the road until Tuesday night’s loss. Despite a 1-2 record at home, the Jazz were 3-0 on the road including blowout victories over the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs.

Entering Wednesday’s game against the Knicks, the Jazz are shooting 39 percent from the three-point line on 40 attempts per game. At home, the team is connecting on just 33 percent of their 36 attempts per game.

Bojan Bogdanovic has had the greatest variance between home and road play for any individual player on the Jazz. The forward is shooting just 18 percent from the floor at home and seven percent from the three-point line.

Despite Tuesday’s 2-7 shooting performance, including 0-3 from the three-point line, Bogdanovic entered the matchup with the Knicks shooting 49 percent from the floor and 50 percent from three.

Jazz And Knicks Key Matchup

The matchup between Bogdanovic and Randle will be key to determining the outcome of the game.

The Knicks forward is connecting on 40 percent of his nearly four three-point attempts per game, but has an advanced faceup game up and is also effective in the post. Bogdanovic will have his hands full on the defensive end trying to limit Randle, as Rudy Gobert will be tasked with defending Knicks center Mitchell Robinson.

Randle meanwhile will have to prove his early-season defensive effort has lasting power as the Jazz will once again rely on Bogdanovic’s three-point shooting to create space in the offense. The forward had a season-high 28 points on 10-13 shooting, including 6-7 from three against the Spurs on Sunday.

The Jazz will need a bounceback performance from Bogdanovic if they hope to neutralize Randle.

Broadcast

The Jazz and Knicks will tip-off at 5:30 pm MT. The game will be broadcast on AT&T SportsNet.

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Jazz Look To Bounce Back Against Surprising Knicks