Game thread: Utah Jazz face playoff foe in Kyrie Irving, Nets

The Brooklyn Nets with a healthy Kyrie Irving are certain to present a tough challenge for a Utah Jazz team seeking its tenth straight victory.

There’s no debating that the Utah Jazz have been on quite a tear of late as they’ve rattled off nine straight victories. However, while it’s been good to see them take care of business, there’s also no denying that the strength of opponent has been pretty low during the run. The Jazz have only played two playoff-caliber teams during that stretch and only one with a winning record in the LA Clippers.

Their upcoming opponent still isn’t one that has a record above .500, but there’s no question that the Brooklyn Nets are a dangerous squad and also one that is currently firmly in the playoff mix in the Eastern Conference. Not only that, but their 18-20 record would likely be far better if they hadn’t had to deal with so many injuries thus far.

Principal among the walking wounded (excluding Kevin Durant who is out for the season) has been Kyrie Irving who has appeared in a mere 12 games so far this season. Irving has proven to be a player that has a tough time assimilating with his teammates, so even when he has been in action for the Nets it hasn’t always been pretty. Consider how little time he’s had to mesh with his new squad, and there’s no questioning why the team has struggled.

But he most certainly looked good in his return from injury on Sunday against Atlanta as he led his Nets team to a dominant 108-86 victory while putting up 21 points on an amazing 10-of-11 shooting performance. Brooklyn is a completely different team with Irving in play and he’s the type of superstar who can almost single-handedly take over a game and will his squad to victory.

And that’s exactly what the Jazz will have to deal with in their road bout on Tuesday – a re-energized Brooklyn team that has a healthy Kyrie in their ranks yet again. The Jazz narrowly escaped the Nets earlier in the year thanks to a monster second half, but they’ll need to put together a far more complete game this time around if they hope to arise victorious.

Game Data

Broadcast Info

Tip-off: 5:30 PM MT on January 14, 2020 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: The Zone Sports Network (97.5 FM & 1280 AM Salt Lake City)

Projected Starting Lineups

Utah JazzPositionBrooklyn Nets
Rudy GobertCJarrett Allen
Royce O’NealePFTaurean Prince
Bojan BogdanovicSFJoe Harris
Joe InglesSGSpencer Dinwiddie
Donovan MitchellPGKyrie Irving


Injuries

Mike Conley made the trip with the Jazz to travel with them for their three-game road stint, but he’s still listed as out against Brooklyn. Meanwhile, Donovan Mitchell, who missed Sunday’s game due to illness, is listed as probable so he’s likely to play and retake his spot in the starting lineup.

Meanwhile, although the Nets are about the healthiest they’ve been all year, they remain without Kevin Durant who, of course, is set to miss the entirety of the 2019-20 season with his ruptured Achilles.

Prediction

This could be a scary one with Kyrie Irving back in action for the Nets. It’s also the second game of a road trip for a Jazz team that has been traveling a lot the past couple weeks, so this isn’t going to be an easy victory by any means.

The Action Network has the Jazz as mere 1-point favorites, so you know this one is essentially a wash. It’s going to be a battle, but I’m going to go out on a limb and pick the Jazz to pull this one off by the narrow score of 112-109.

Next: Utah Jazz: the three most unsung heroes of this season

Discussion

#UTAatBKN is the Twitter hashtag for the game and our live comment thread below will be up and rolling throughout the game as well. Go Jazz!

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