National Basketball Association
Jazz-Wizards Preview
National Basketball Association

Jazz-Wizards Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 12:56 p.m. ET

A major snow storm last month forced the Utah Jazz to play three games in four days following the All-Star break. They'll get no sympathy from the Washington Wizards.

After limping into the All-Star break, the Wizards open a stretch of three games in as many days Thursday night against the visiting Jazz.

Washington (23-28) was scheduled to host Utah (26-26) on Jan. 23, but a blizzard forced a postponement that's created a scheduling headache.

Following this matchup with the Jazz, the Wizards will welcome Detroit to the nation's capital Friday before visiting Miami a day later. It's the first time a team has played three games in three days since Indiana swept such a stretch from Feb. 4-6, 2013.


Washington is three games back of Charlotte for eighth in the Eastern Conference.

"I really think these three tough games we can really go 3-0 or 2-1, and it's going to help us with our season. If it's vice versa, we're in a tough situation," All-Star guard John Wall said.

Washington has lost nine of 13 overall and ranks ahead of only Brooklyn and Philadelphia in the East with 11 home wins. The Wizards entered the break off a 99-92 loss at Milwaukee last Thursday, shooting 38.6 percent - 6 of 32 from 3-point range - while getting outrebounded 58-38.

While they're third in the conference with 102.7 points per game, that potent offense has been offset by a defense that ranks last with 105.4 against.

"Offensively we can score with the best of the teams. We moving the ball and making open shots," Wall said. "We gotta defend. We gotta have to have heart one-on-one to defend and getting rebounds as a group."

Wall had 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists in an 88-84 win over Utah on March 18. He'll try to lead the Wizards to a fourth straight win over the Jazz for the first time since 1982-83.

Utah (26-26) is tied with Portland for seventh in the West as it pursues its first playoff berth since 2011-12.

"It's another notch," forward Gordon Hayward said of the increased intensity following the All-Star break. "That's why experience is such a huge thing in this league. You've got guys that played 10-plus seasons and know how it works. When I was a rookie, veterans just seemed to have another level. Hopefully we can raise our game to another level, too.

"We talk about it a little bit amongst the guys. You can feel it. The fans will feel it too, so that will help them out. Honestly a lot of it is just experiencing it. Just playing in it, playing through it."

The Jazz seemed to be doing that before the layoff, winning a season-high seven in a row before losing 100-96 at New Orleans on Feb. 10. Derrick Favors made 11 of 15 attempts and scored 29 points for his second-highest total of the season but Utah had a three-game road streak snapped.

Favors' performance was particularly encouraging after he was limited to 12.7 points on 38.5 percent shooting in his previous three games. He's averaged 8.7 points in three visits to Washington.

It's no surprise the Jazz have been much improved with both the 6-foot-10 Favors and center Rudy Gobert back in the lineup following lengthy absences. Utah has won seven of nine since Favors returned after he missed 16 games with an ailing back, and is 13-7 this season when both Gobert and Favors are in the starting five.


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