SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Help is on the way for the struggling Utah Jazz.
Both Rudy Gobert and Rudy Gay have been cleared to return to the game after testing positive for Covid. Both players expect to be back for the Jazz next game Sunday at Denver.
“Today we played and I was feeling great so I’m excited to get back on the floor with the team,” Gobert said.”
Gobert has missed the last five games, and the Jazz have gone 1-4 without the 3-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The team’s defensive rating without Gobert has ballooned to 120.8.
“It’s never easy to watch your team lose games,” Gobert said. “But sometimes I feel when you go through tough stretches as a team, it can make you better. Right now we are not at a championship level, and sometimes you need a tough stretch to remind you that.”
Gobert is averaging 15.5 points, 15.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game this season. He says the Jazz biggest problem right now is lack of communication on defense.
“Communication, not just one game or big game, it’s not talking,” Gobert said. “We know we’re not just going to flip the switch, all of a sudden communicate, all of a sudden be able to stay in front of your man, and all of a sudden be able to rebound.”
Gay, who was placed in Covid protocols on Sunday, is averaging 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds.
“This is a unique NBA we play in,” Gay said. “But we have a great core of guys and as soon as we get them back, we’ll be right back on track.”
The Jazz still have four players in the NBA health and safety protocols in Hassan Whiteside, Udoka Azubuike, Elijah Hughes and Jared Butler.
Joe Ingles, who was the first Jazz player to test positive this season, returned from the Covid list on Monday.
Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for Covid back on March 11, 2020, which eventually led to the shutdown of the season for four months.