Through Tuesday’s games, the Rockets have the 8th seed in the Western conference, with the Jazz just half a game behind them for 9th. The two teams play against each other tonight in Houston. Huge matchup. Here’s the Salt Lake Tribune reporting:
Gordon Hayward began celebrating his 26th birthday on Wednesday in as much style as is possible for an NBA player about to play his biggest game of the regular season. There was a brief shootaround. He was serenaded by the Utah Jazz rookies. Assistant coach Steven Schwartz penned a hip-hop verse in his honor.
Besides that, there weren’t too many smiles and laughs coming from Hayward, the Jazz small forward. A win over the Houston Rockets is all he and anyone associated with the organization really wants.
This is the chance the Jazz have been waiting for. They are currently a half-game behind the Rockets with 12 to play. The tie-breaker for the season between the two teams is at stake, which means tonight essentially counts as two games in the standings. With four teams jostling for the Western Conference’s last three playoff spots, the enormity of tonight’s game at the Toyota Center can’t be understated.