Who: Utah Jazz (18-20) at Cleveland Cavaliers (8-30)
When: 7:30 p.m. EST
Where: Quicken Loans Arena — Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Cavs status updates: Kevin Love (Foot - Out), John Henson (Wrist - Out), J.R. Smith (Personal - Out), David Nwaba (Ankle - Out), Ante Zizic (Knee - Out)
Jazz status update: TBD
The Jazz have lost in their annual trip to Cleveland for six consecutive seasons. Something they surely will try to avoid as they try to get back in the playoffs in the competitive Western Conference.
Despite their struggles, the Jazz are probably considerably better than their record. Not only as a result of the talent that they have, but their point differential is tied for fifth best in the conference with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The problem for the Jazz has been their inconsistency on offense, headlined by the sophomore slump of Donovan Mitchell. But considering the Cavs are currently trotting out the worst defense in NBA history, this matchup could be exactly what Utah needs to get back on track.
For the Cavs, the hope is that they will play more like the first quarter against the Heat rather than what followed. They put together one of the worst rebounding performances you’ll ever see from an NBA team and struggled to attack the Heat’s zone defense.
One of the biggest issues for the Cavs offensively is how long it takes them to get into their offensive sets. Against a sixth ranked Jazz defense, they can’t wait until there is ten seconds or less to get into whatever they are trying to run. Increasing the pace and playing with more of a purpose will be essential to keeping this game competitive.
As per usual, the focus of this game will how the team continues to try and develop both Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman. As well as working in returning pieces in Tristan Thompson and Rodney Hood, and the newly added Patrick McCaw.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction:
The Jazz may have a mediocre offense, but the Cavs have been worse on that end and the gap on defense is sizable. I think this will be a low scoring evening that will be tough to watch at time. Jazz win 104-88.