Utah Jazz (6-20) @ Miami Heat (17-6)
Tip Off @ 5:30 p.m. MST
TV : Root Sports
Projected Starting Lineups
PG – Trey Burke
SG – Gordon Hayward
SF – Richard Jefferson
PF – Marvin Williams
C – Derrick Favors
PG – Mario Chalmers
SG – Dwayne Wade
SF – Shane Battier
PF – LeBron James
C – Chris Bosh
Last week, while on vacation, I wasn’t able to watch any Jazz games. I checked updates on my phone occasionally, but a week without Jazz basketball was a killer. Now that I am home, I am chomping at the bit to see them play. I get to see that tonight as the Jazz begin their 5 game East Coast road trip with a visit to Lebron James and the Miami Heat.
The Heat are good. Plain and simple. They rank in the top 10 in scoring, (7th, 103.1 ppg), in assists, (4th, 23.7 apg), and points allowed per game, (6th, 96.1 ppg). In fact, the Heat are 1 of only 5 teams in the entire league that are ranked in the top 10 both offensively and defensively. However, one area that the Heat are not very good statistically, is in rebounding. The Heat rank 30th in the league at 35.7 rebounds per game.
The Heat are led, as always, by Lebron. James leads the team with 25 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.4 assists. Dwayne Wade is sitting at 18 points per game, but at home is averaging 20.
The Jazz are coming off of a disappointing loss against the Spurs on Saturday night. After beating the Nuggets the night before, the Jazz just couldn’t hit shots, and it cost them as the Spurs cruised to the win. Coming into tonight, the Jazz have won 2 straight games on the road. Last week the Jazz won at Sacramento and at Denver. In those 2 road games, the Jazz averaged 112.5 points, and their average margin of victory was 15.5 points. The Jazz are 3-10 on the road and in the 3 wins, the Jazz have scored more than 103 points. In all 10 losses on the road, the Jazz have yet to score 100 points.
The Jazz are improving in their statistical rankings. The Jazz have upped their scoring to 93.3 points per game which has moved them up to 27th. Since Trey Burke returned to the lineup, the assists have gone up. The Jazz are now averaging 19.8 per game, which has moved them up to 24th. The defense has also improved. The team is giving up 101.6 points per game, which puts them 21st in the league. However, at the beginning of the season, the Jazz were ranked in the top 5 in rebounds per game. Now the Jazz see themselves ranked 26th and are grabbing 40.6 per game.
Gordon Hayward leads the Jazz with 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. Trey Burke is putting together a nice rookie campaign, putting up 13.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 5 assists per game in 28.9 minutes per game. Burke has also only played in 14 of the teams 26 games.
Key Matchup : Marvin Williams vs LeBron James
Marvin has been fantastic to start the season. In 8 games that Marvin has started, he is putting up 11.5 points per game and is shooting the ball nearly 50% from the field. Tonight, he gets a tough test going against LeBron.
LeBron, as mentioned before, leads the Heat in nearly every statistical category. As a member of the Heat, James has put up amazing averages. In 5 games against the Jazz with the Heat, James is averaging 30 points, 8.4 assists, and 8.2 rebounds per game. Every time he plays the Jazz he puts up nearly a triple-double.
The Jazz have won 2 straight on the road and with Marvin Williams in the starting lineup, the Jazz have won 5 of their last 7 dating back to November 25th. Marvin missed 4 straight games due to soreness in his heel, and in those 4 games that Marvin was out, the Jazz lost all 4. Marvin is a big part of this starting unit and he will have to step up to a big challenge tonight to help the Jazz try and knock off the defending champs.
The Jazz bench was terrible in the last game against the Spurs. The bench was outscored 47-22 by the Spurs bench in rout to a 16 point loss for the Jazz. After sending Rudy Gobert and Ian Clark to the Jazz D-League affiliate, the Bakersfield Jam, the bench looks a little thinner, and a little shorter.
One thing I noticed in the that game that I didn’t quite understand, was in the 2nd half, Corbin decided to play John Lucas III over Diante Garrett at the backup point guard position. Tonight, the backup point guard will be going up against Norris Cole. Cole is a quick point guard and, to me, Garrett is the better choice to go up against him.
The guy who might have his hands full is Alec Burks. Burks has been playing great in the month of December, but tonight he will have to do a lot of running guarding Ray Allen. Allen runs all around the court coming off screens, and when they get him the ball, his release is so quick that if Burks is a step behind, Allen will make him pay. I think the Jazz’s bench can compete with Miami’s, but if they come out and have a showing like they did against the Spurs, this game could get ugly.
As mentioned before, the Jazz have won 2 in a row. With Marvin Williams in the starting lineup, the Jazz have won 5 of their last 7. Trey Burke is playing better and better every game. In his last 5 games, he is averaging 15 points and 7.2 assists, while shooting 40% from the field. For the Jazz to win, they need Derrick Favors to play big. In the 2 road wins last week, Favors put up 17 points and 19 points. He also shot the ball nearly 70% in both of those games.
The Heat are 10-2 at home this season and are scoring 106 points per game at home. The Jazz are 3-10 on the road and are scoring 93.1 points per game on the road.
The Jazz will have their hands full tonight going up against a Heat team that can beat you in a variety of ways. All I want to see is the effort. If the Jazz lose tonight, I don’t want it to be because the Jazz laid down to a better team. I want it to be because they fought hard and showed improvements against a championship caliber team. All I want to see is the effort and improvements from the young guys.
Heat 100, Jazz 94