When Utah returned to its winning ways on Tuesday with a massive victory over Philadelphia, one of the primary reasons was the battle of the rebounds.
The Jazz thoroughly handled the short-handed 76ers on the glass, out-rebounding them 56-42. But the bigger story was Utah limiting Philadelphia to just six offensive rebounds, nearly four less than the 76ers average on the season.
“Our defense, everything started with our defense,” Bojan Bogdanovic said following the 120-85 victory. “Finally we controlled the boards, and it was easy for us to play off our defense and in transition. Everything started with our defense. … If we play defense the way we played tonight, we’ll have a chance to win every single game.”
Utah will have to be more attentive than ever when it comes to rebounding on Thursday night when it hosts the Toronto Raptors. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MST and will air on AT&T Sports Network.
Jazz v. Raps
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 18, 2021
The Jazz should have their hands full with the Raptors as Toronto leads the NBA in offensive rebounds, grabbing an average of 13.3 per game. In losses to Indiana and Miami last week, Utah gave up an average of 14 offensive rebounds a game, a statistic that the Jazz know they must get better at if they want to end their five-game homestand with a win.
“I think at times this year, we’ve had games where we’ve given up way too many offensive rebounds,” Joe Ingles said Thursday. “I think for us, it’s just that concentration. … It’s hard because obviously, we know it’s important.”
Utah will get a big boost tonight when it was announced that free-agent acquisition Rudy Gay is available for action against the Raptors. Gay has yet to take the court this year after recovering from offseason heel surgery.
“I never got hurt, it was just to alleviate some pain I’ve been playing with for a little while,” Gay said a month ago regarding the surgery. “I feel like, after last season, I was just done with it. … I see myself as a very tough guy to play with it for five years.”
Despite not yet playing, head coach Quin Snyder and the Jazz say Gay has been heavily involved in every aspect of the team. From participating in practice to watching film, Gay’s leadership and experience have shined as he’s already proven a valuable commodity.
“I think he can fit in a lot of ways, that’s the advantage of having a versatile player,” Snyder said of Gay’s fit with the team. “He’s capable of impacting the game in a variety of ways, that’s the sense that I had (of him) this summer. The more you see him interact with different lineups and different players, I think those things will become even more apparent.”
Now in his 16th season in the league, Gay came to Utah for the chance to pursue a championship. He understood that the Jazz already had a solid foundation in place, and he just wanted to be a part of that, be a piece of the puzzle that could help bring Salt Lake City its first title.
“This is a group of good guys, a group of really mature guys and guys that have won,” Gay said. “I’m a pro, and I’m a competitor, and I’ve seen places where I can assert myself in places where the team is lacking. Everyone respects each other, and they have great personalities. … But at the end of the day, the goal is to win.”
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 17, 2021
*Rudy Gay: AVAILABLE / right heel injury recovery
*Udoka Azubuike: OUT / G League – On Assignment
*Jared Butler: OUT / G League – On Assignment
*Elijah Hughes: OUT / G League – On Assignment
*Precious Achiuwa: DOUBTFUL / right shoulder tendinitis
*OG Anunoby: DOUBTFUL / left hip pointer
*Chris Boucher: PROBABLE / lower back soreness
*Isaac Bonga: OUT / G League – On Assignment
*David Johnson: OUT / G League – Two-Way
*Yuta Watanabe: OUT / left calf strain
Time: 7 p.m. MST
Location: Vivint Arena / Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T Sports Network
Radio: 1280 The Zone