The road trip marches on as the Cavaliers play in Salt Lake City at 9 pm ET Tuesday night. The Jazz have been somewhat of a surprise this far as their mildly youthful roster has had more success than most have realized early this season.
Shockingly, both teams are actually in playoff positions and it is the second week in January still. Both of these teams had a pair of lottery picks last summer so they have some talented youngsters they're trying hard to develop.
Song of the day: Seventy Times 7 - Brand New
May my second favorite song become yours.
Cleveland Cavaliers (4-4) at Utah Jazz (5-3)
The Cavaliers are coming off a poor performance in all facets on Sunday night in Portland while Utah is coming off a great win 88-87 over the Warriors in Oakland. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if Byron Scott changed up his starting lineup or rotation somehow although he seems determined to keep his ten man rotation intact.
It's getting hard to predict what to expect from Cleveland as nobody really is playing consistently well night in and night out other than Anderson Varejao and at his best he's not going to really light things up.
Scott is certainly going to be seeing this one as a game where he can get the team rolling again so a poor start won't be acceptable from him.
The Jazz have one of the most interesting rosters in the league to me. They've got a nice mix of veterans not on long contracts plus a boatload of young lottery talent on their squad.
With Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks they are well stocked in the young assets department. The issue I'm sure many Jazz fans have with the team is they are having a difficulty (as we are) in deciding who really should be in the rotation and how many minutes to give those young guys.
They have a few veterans who are currently "in the way" of some of the younger guys but the kids are pretty up and down so it's hard to justify just turning the team over to them even though they are the future.
I'm really high on the future of the Jazz actually and if they could somehow land another stud in this upcoming draft they could become a super trendy playoff sleeper in the near future.
They are a pretty bad outside shooting team so I'm not too concerned about them going crazy outside and ambushing the Cavs early.
But, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Kanter and Favors can really hit the glass hard so let's hope Ryan Hollins isn't ever trying to box out someone like Kanter who is a great offensive rebounder although he's shown almost nothing offensively yet.
Anderson Varejao vs. Al Jefferson
Andy is the best player on the Cavaliers currently and the key to the above average team defense. Big Al has never been an efficient offensive player so look for Andy to be really active in trying to force him into a 5-17 night. Jefferson also isn't really a noted passer so hopefully Varejao can force him into a few turnovers too.
Utah has a boatload of guys scoring between 6 and 10 points per game so nobody has really stepped up consistently for them either. By taking Jefferson out of the game the Cavaliers can really hurt Utah and force them into the outside shots they don't really want.
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction:
While they have nice records these teams aren't exactly on the path to the playoffs. Utah's record to me is particularly deceptive at this point although again I like some of the pieces they have, Favors and Burks specifically, so I think this one is going to be very enjoyable to watch as it should stay close. In an overtime thriller, the Cavaliers will prevail 95-94.