The Cavaliers are in a bit of a mini-swoon, having lost three of their last four games. The Jazz are just in a good old fashioned “swoon” - they’ve lost eight of their last 10 games, and their early season success without Rudy Gobert has fallen by the wayside. They’re in danger of falling out of playoff contention in the West, and don’t seem to have the horses to survive injuries.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers (24-11) at Utah Jazz (15-21)
When: 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
Enemy Blog: SLC Dunk
TV: Fox Sports Ohio
Online: Fox Sports Go, NBA League Pass
Cavs injuries: Isaiah Thomas (OUT - hip), Derrick Rose (OUT - ankle), Iman Shumpert (OUT - left knee)
Jazz injuries: Rudy Gobert (OUT - knee)
Three keys to the game:
- The Cavs are, on average, the oldest team in the league, and that means one thing: their hangovers last way longer than their younger counterparts. The team spent the entire day in Napa on Thursday, and I imagine they weren’t just doing tastings of the wine before spitting it out. They definitely had their fun, and I’m only 90 percent joking when I suggest this could have a real impact on the game.
- With no Rudy Gobert, the Jazz are a slightly more switchable unit with Derrick Favors in the fold. Favors might not be the same rim protector that Gobert is, but he’s slightly more mobile and also boasts a workable jump shot. He could hurt the Cavs tonight if they’re not careful.
- Will Donovan Mitchell cook the Cavs again? Mitchell kept Utah in the last game between these two teams before the Cavs finally pulled away late, and he represents a consistent issue the Cavs have had in slowing down volume scorers that play the two-guard. Mitchell dropped 26 on 11-16 shooting while nobody else on the Jazz was able to make more than four field goals. The Cavs game plan on Mitchell will define Utah’s success.
J.R. Smith has finally started to heat up from distance, hitting 43.6 percent of his threes in the Cavs last 10 games. His defense has still left something to be desired, though, and Mitchell is probably the toughest rookie to guard individually in the league right now. He’ll have his hands full.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
The Cavaliers overcome a wine hangover (famously brutal) to pull out a tough win in Utah. Cavs 101, Jazz 99.