We're in a predicament as it is, you don't want to add any extra pressure. We've been playing really well at home — kind of bounce off that and see what happens. —Devin Harris
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz's final push to make the playoffs begins tonight when they host the defending NBA champions.
The Jazz will likely start with the same lineup that they've gone with for the past week, with Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.
Carroll was given clearance to play after passing the final concussion test on Monday. The small forward suffered a mild concussion Saturday after getting popped in the mouth by Grizzlies' guard Tony Allen and then having to get a tooth put back into place.
Carroll is visiting a dentist to work on tightening his teeth back up this afternoon, and he'll sport a specially made mouth guard for the rest of the season.
"When I got hit, I thought it was gone," Carroll said. "It was actually there, it was just in the back of my mouth. ... I'm just happy I still got my teeth."
C.J. Miles, Josh Howard, Raja Bell and Earl Watson all remain out with their injuries. Forward Jeremy Evans, who is nursing a sprained right ankle, will be a game-time decision but said if it's up to him he would play.
The Jazz can use all the help they can get.
Utah has lost to the Dallas Mavericks seven times in a row, including three consecutive contests at EnergySolutions Arena.
"This is a veteran club. They've been together for a while. They understand time and situations in games. They make timely shots," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said after this morning's shootaround. "They're going to execute. You make mistakes on the defensive end, they'll pick you apart. They're a good passing team. We just have to make sure we continue to compete against them."
Another challenge in front of the Jazz is the fact they almost need to win the remainder of their five games to have a shot at making the postseason.
"This is a big game for us and we need a win here on our home floor," Corbin added.
Former Maverick Devin Harris said the Jazz need to play extra tough defense to take down Dallas, which lost an overtime game against the Lakers in L.A. on Sunday.
Utah had Sunday off after falling in New Orleans and Memphis on back-to-back nights.
"We're in a predicament as it is, you don't want to add any extra pressure," Harris said. "We've been playing really well at home — kind of bounce off that and see what happens."
Jefferson also said it's nice to be home where the Jazz play four of their final five games, including the last three after Wednesday's road finale at Portland. They are 21-8 at ESA.
"We've got a chance to gain some ground," Jefferson said. "This part of the season everybody who have a chance or are in the playoff (knows) every game matters. I know they're going to come in after a loss yesterday ... trying to get a win. We need a win just as bad as they do, so it should be a good game."3 comments on this story
Utah (31-20) is currently 1.5 games behind Houston (32-28) for the final playoff spot and three full games behind Dallas (34-27) for the No. 6 position.
The Jazz probably want the Rockets to lose to Denver (33-27) again tonight after the Nuggets beat Houston on Sunday.