Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Key Matchup: Rudy Gobert vs. Daniel Theis

by Aaron Falk

Rudy Gobert wasn’t satisfied.

The Utah Jazz center had just posted a double-double in a convincing win over the New York Knicks, his squad’s third victory in as many games, when his attention shifted to the Boston Celtics.

“That was Jazz basketball,” Gobert said of the win at Madison Square Garden. “That’s our identity. We are able to do it against teams that are maybe not contending teams, but we have to do it every night. We have to do it when things get tough.”

Gobert and the Jazz know things will be tough tonight at TD Garden.

“I don’t want to get too high,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said after beating the Wizards, Cavs and Knicks in consecutive games. “No disrespect to the teams we’ve played, but these are games we should come out on top. Now we have a test coming up.”

It has barely been a week since the Boston Celtics came walked out of Vivint Smart Home Arena with a win over Mitchell and the Jazz, and the taste of defeat is still fresh. But buoyed by a recent run of success, the Jazz will be looking for revenge tonight.

“We didn’t play well for a couple of games,” Jazz head Coach Quin Snyder said. “I don’t know that our guys lost confidence as much as they lost some focus during that stretch. It’s good to have that back. You’re a lot more confident when you’re playing well and being precise and playing the right way. We have a little more urgency right no. We have to keep playing that way.”

The Jazz were coming off a lopsided loss to the Phoenix Suns, a performance Snyder called a low point in the season, when they last matched up with the Celtics. The Jazz (39-22) showed more fight in their showdown with Boston but saw the game slip away from them in the second half. Utah hasn’t lost since, though, picking up wins over the Wizards, Cavaliers and Knicks.

“We’re in a better place than we were a week or two ago,” forward Royce O’Neale said. “We’re starting to find our identity and getting back to our defensive effort and playing as a team.”

Gobert will be key in tonight’s matchup with Boston as he battles with Celtics center Daniel Theis. Theis is averaging 9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for Boston (42-19). Gobert, an All-Star this season, is putting up 15.4 points, 14 rebounds and 2 dimes per contest.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT.


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