The Cleveland Cavaliers (15-12) will play host to the visiting Utah Jazz (10-17) at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse. Cleveland is seeking its third-consecutive win since losing Darius Garland and Evan Mobley
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Utah Jazz
Where: Rocket Mortage Fieldhouse, Cleveland
When: 7:00 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, KJZZ
Spread: CLE -4.5
Expected Cavs Starting Lineup:
Donovan Mitchell, Isaac Okoro, Max Strus, Dean Wade, Jarrett Allen
Cavs Injury Report: Donovan Mitchell (illness, QUESTIONABLE), Darius Garland (jaw, OUT) Evan Mobley (knee, OUT), Ricky Rubio (personal, OUT), Ty Jerome (ankle, OUT), Isaiah Mobley (G League, OUT), Emoni Bates (G League, OUT)
Expected Jazz Starting Lineup:
Talen Horton-Tucket, Collin Sexton, Simone Fontecchio, Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler
Jazz Injury Report: Jordan Clarkson (hamstring, OUT), Keyonte George (left foot, OUT), Omer Yurtsven (illness, OUT), Josh Christopher (G League, OUT), Johnny Juzang (G League, OUT), Micah Potter (G League, OUT), Brice Sensabaugh (G League, OUT)
What to Watch for
Maxing out Mitchell
With the Cavs down nearly all of their point guards, Donovan Mitchell has been asked to do what LeBron James had to do in 2017-2018: basically, be the offense. While James is one of the all-time greats who is capable of doing just that, Mitchell is not that kind of player. But he is certainly capable of being a microwave offensively - getting hot very, very quickly. But Mitchell played the entire second half (45 minutes total) against the Houston Rockets, a move that should get an eyebrow raise aimed at maybe-hot-seat-bound J.B. Bickerstaff. Running Mitchell this hard is unsustainable for the Cavs as they weather the injury storm, but there are ways to alleviate that pressure.
Craig Porter Jr., the only true point guard on the roster who is healthy, only received eight minutes against the Rockets. Bickerstaff could have gone to Porter for even 4-6 minutes to help give Mitchell a rest. While giving minutes to a rookie point guard in a critical part of the season is risky, Porter is pretty safe with the ball in his hands and is an “older” rookie. He hasn't had a negative +/- since November 28th and is averaging less than one turnover per game. Bickerstaff should be less reluctant to go to CPJ, especially with so many injuries at point guard.
To make matters even more troublesome, Mitchell was seen not moving his shoulder very well following the win against the Rockets. Per the injury report, he is also dealing with an illness. The Cavs are going to be without Garland and Jerome for quite a while, so they need to be careful with Mitchell to make sure he is healthy heading into the stretch run of the season.
One Stat to Watch
The Cavs were not a particularly good rebounding team with Mobley healthy, and one would expect them to continue to find crashing the glass difficult without him. Despite that, Cleveland throttled the Atlanta Hawks on the boards in the first game without Mobley, winning the rebounding battle by 15. Against the Rockets, the Cavs lost that fight by nine rebounds. The Jazz employ a two-big strategy as well with Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler. Utah is fourth in the league in rebounds per game as a result, whilst the Cavs are tied for 15th. The Jazz are not a very good offensive or defensive team, ranking bottom-five in the league in both areas, but allowing them second-chance opportunities will make the margin for error even thinner for the Cavs.
Mobley was fourth on the team in defensive rebounding percentage (19.8%, 62nd percentile for bigs) per Cleaning the Glass. Allen is at 17.8%, or the 48th percentile. Not tremendously good. Bickerstaff may need to trot out Tristan Thompson if the Cavs start to get beat down low with regard to rebound positioning and boxing out. Utah is 27th in the league in field goal percentage, so there could be a lot of shots that miss off the iron - and a lot of rebounds ready to be retrieved.