Utah Jazz-Atlanta Hawks: Keys to starting a winning streak

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz makes his entrance before the game against the LA Clippers on January 20, 2018 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JANUARY 20: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz makes his entrance before the game against the LA Clippers on January 20, 2018 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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SALT LAKE CITY, UT – JANUARY 20: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz warms up before the game against the LA Clippers on January 20, 2018 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – JANUARY 20: Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz warms up before the game against the LA Clippers on January 20, 2018 at Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Reestablish the defensive identity

When the Utah Jazz lost Rudy Gobert for the second time this season, the defense noticeably struggled. When he made his long-awaited return against the Knicks on Friday, many Jazz fans (myself included) expected a return of a top five defense in the league.

Instead, the Jazz have given up 117 and 113 points respectively, while sporting a very mediocre 109.6 Defensive Rating.

The Atlanta Hawks do not have an elite offense, so this will be a good opportunity for the Jazz to reestablish their defensive focus and identity. Gobert’s minutes should steadily increase, and his teammates should begin adjusting to having the safety net that he provides.

In the past, the Jazz have excelled defensively with Gobert because he allows guards and wings the chance to be overly aggressive on the perimeter. That pressure on the perimeter means either lower 3-point percentages, or opponents being forced to drive the lane. If they do the latter, they have the Stifle Tower waiting for them. So they can either take their chances with Gobert at the rim (Good luck. See video above), or they can take the mid range shot.

This team was built to be an elite defense, but bad habits can affect the best of teams. The Jazz must right the ship on defense, and this matchup verses the Hawks is the perfect opportunity to get back on track.