This game is of great importance for the Cavs. Not only do I want to see the team win in person, but it also has some incredibly interesting playoff implications. Playoffs?!? Yes, playoffs.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (20-40) vs. Utah Jazz (32-28)
When? 7:00 PM Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, OH
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
Enemy/brother blog? SLC Dunk
Tickets? Cleveland Cavaliers tickets
Okay, so why is this game so important?
Well, obviously I want the Cavs to win. There are some of you that want to continue doing that tanking thing, but I've already written about why I'm done with that. Play to win every game and keep making steady progress towards being the playoff team that we want to be next year. But beyond that, the Cavs can help themselves out in the draft by winning the game. The Utah Jazz are just 2 and a half games ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. As you probably know, if the Lakers make the playoffs, the Cavs get their first round pick instead of the Miami Heat's first round pick. It's weird to root for the Lakers, but that's what is best for the Cavs. If the Cavs can beat the Jazz tonight, they'll help LA out and get them a bit closer to grabbing that last playoff spot.
Is everybody on the Cavs still sick?
No, not everybody. Tyler Zeller is expected to play and start after missing the last game due to illness. However, Dion Waiters and now Daniel Gibson are both expected to miss tonight's game. They're still sick. Getting Zeller back is helpful because the Jazz have so many competent bigs, but I have to assume that being sick and in the hospital for a few days means that he will have lost some weight and some of his strength. And as you know, Zeller didn't have much weight or strength to lose in the first place.
Not having Waiters hurts. We saw it in the game against the Knicks. The Cavs sort of hit a wall and started jacking up jump shots early in the 24-second clock. Without Waiters, the Cavs really lack a tough scoring threat outside of Kyrie Irving. The first half against the Knicks showed how the Cleveland offense can be effective without Waiters creating and scoring, but that's somewhat difficult to maintain for 48 minutes. Luke Walton and Shaun Livingston did a great job of running the offense and keeping the ball moving to get great shots and easy layups. But once that broke down, the Cavs really missed Waiters' ability to just take the ball and drive to the rim. He'll be missed again tonight.
What's going on with Utah's injuries?
Mo Williams expects to be back tonight for the Jazz. He has missed 32 games this season after having thumb surgery. People tend to discount how good Williams can be, but compared to what the Jazz have been using at point guard -- he's an enormous upgrade. Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley just aren't very good. Mo will probably take some time to get back into the flow of the offense and redevelop the chemistry with his teammates. But as the Jazz continue their push for the 8th playoff spot, you better believe that getting Mo Williams is going to be a big help.
And if you're at the Q tonight, you better cheer your ass off when Mo Williams' name is announced.
The Cavaliers will catch a big break tonight if Al Jefferson cannot play. He is listed as doubtful. Jefferson is obviously a very skilled big man and his absence helps even out the matchup in the frontcourt. But don't forget about Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, and Paul Millsap. Those guys are still quite good.
CJ Miles revenge game!
CJ spent his first 7 years in Utah and now gets another chance to beat his former team in his new city. I expect CJ to go off for 57 points and hit 14 three-pointers.
Go to a Lake Erie Monsters game.
I went to the Lake Erie Monsters minor league hockey game at the Q last night with FTS commenter ahowie. It was a lot of fun and we got the tickets for free from some random guy standing in front of the Q. You should go to one if you have a chance, it's a pretty good time. WOOOOOOOO!
Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction
I'm gonna say that the Cavs get this win. After a depressing collapse against the Knicks, the Cavalier are going to come out with energy and intensity for the full 48 minutes. The addition of Zeller helps, but the Jazz not having Jefferson is really the biggest thing. Cavs win 106-99.