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Game #36 Preview: Utah Jazz at Cleveland Cavaliers

I'd like to apologize for my brief hiatus; I've been incredibly busy with real life things. Never fear, we're back and I'm ready for some Cavaliers basketball tonight. That loss to the Wizards was embarrassing and now the Cavs have a chance to snap this season-high losing streak when the Jazz come to town.

Song Of The Day: Starstrukk - 3OH!3

Tonight's Overview:

Utah Jazz (17-19) at Cleveland Cavaliers (13-22)

So this is what a 5-game losing streak feels like. It's the longest of the season for Cleveland and the schedule doesn't get all that much easier. This, of course, is good news for those Cavs fans that just want to tank the season to get a high draft pick. It doesn't, however, make the team very fun to watch. I'm kind of annoyed at the rosters that Byron Scott has chosen to use in recent games, but we'll see how those change tonight.

The big thing to remember about the Jazz is, well, their bigs. They have a lot of big men, and quality ones at that. Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap...all real quality big men. They do a good job of protecting the paint and, most importantly, scoring in the paint. I'm not going to highlight this as the key matchup but the Jazz have a major advantage when they try to attack in the post. Think about it for a second: Anderson Varejao is still out and that means the Cavs are relying on Ryan Hollins and Antawn Jamison to keep Utah's front court from scoring. They killed the Cavs down low in the last meeting and will probably do so again tonight.

The key to the Cavs offense is obviously the combination of Kyrie Irving and Jamison. If those two guys can score effectively, then the Cavs are in good shape. Antawn has actually played really well lately -- maybe playing himself into a trade to a contender? We're still waiting on a Ramon Sessions trade, but you have to figure that it is coming pretty soon. The trade deadline is March 15th.

Here's what I know: Anthony Parker is still the starter at shooting guard whenever he is healthy. Here's what I don't know: Why the hell Anthony Parker is the starter at shooting guard whenever he is healthy. It makes no sense to me. He's been awful. Why is he getting the last shot? Why is he in the game in that situation? I'd have no problem with playing Manny Harris 25+ mins a game. Hell, I'd even lobby for Manny to be the starter at this point. That's how terrible our SG situation is at this point.

I know that Byron Scott is not ready to start Tristan Thompson (although he might as well, Ryan Hollins and Semih Erden both suck). Regardless, don't you think he should be at least playing 30+ mins per game? When he gets the minutes, Tigger is essentially a lock for a double-double. That's what I want to see tonight -- lots of Manny, lots of Kyrie, and lots of Tigger. Even if we lose, those three guys playing good minutes will make Conrad happy.

Key Matchup:

Conrad Kaczmarek vs. Ryan Hollins

I literally cannot stand watching him play basketball. He's likely the starter at center again and I'm likely to throw stuff at the walls. He's so infuriating to watch. He fouls everybody all the time. He sets crazy ninja kung-fu picks that are almost always offensive fouls. He cannot finish to save his life, he gets blocked by the bottom of the rim and/or backboard on almost every shot attempt. It's awful.

Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction:

As much as I want to say that the Cavs will snap their 5-game skid tonight, I just think it's a real bad matchup. Their big will overwhelm our shorthanded frontline. Jazz win 99-91 with many of their points coming in the paint. Looking ahead briefly: we have Utah, then Denver, then Oklahoma. This could be an 8-game losing streak when the Houston Rockets come to town.

(PS: I'm flying out to Phoenix for Cleveland Indians spring training tomorrow. Let's Go Tribe!)