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Utah Jazz try to make it two in a row against the East’s best

Jazz look for second improbable win in a row against Cavs

Utah Jazz v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

After beating the Boston Celtics, the Eastern Conference’s number one team, the Utah Jazz will face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the number two team in the east.

It’s the second leg of a road trip back-to-back which makes this game look like a near-impossible game to win. But the Jazz just beat the Celtics by 12 without Rudy Gobert or Derrick Favors for most of the game so assumptions get thrown out the window.

Game Info:

When: Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, 5:30 PM MT

Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain

Radio: 1280 and 97.5 The Zone


Utah Jazz:

Rudy Gobert - OUT (Knee)

Derrick Favors - Probable (Eye Laceration)

Dante Exum - OUT (Shoulder)

Raul Neto - OUT (Concussion)

Cleveland Cavaliers

Derrick Rose - OUT (Ankle)

Iman Shumpert - OUT (Knee)

Isaiah Thomas - OUT (Hip)

What To Watch For:

Utah’s Frontcourt (especially Ekpe Udoh)

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The two frontcourt staples of the Jazz, Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, went down before halftime against the Celtics. It forced Quin Snyder to play Jonas Jerebko at center for portions of the game when Utah’s only other center, Ekpe Udoh, needed a breather.

Favors is likely to play, but it is worth keeping an eye on him because anything could happen with him during the game.

Udoh will need to be ready for anything and he will likely see a lot more action than he’s used to. If Favors goes out again or struggles due to his injury, Udoh will essentially be the starting (and only viable) center for the team.

Even if Udoh is up to the task of playing extended minutes, if Snyder needs to play Jerebko or Joe Johnson at center again it could be a problem.

Donovan Mitchell’s first game against LeBron James

Cleveland Cavaliers v Indiana Pacers Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

LeBron is far and away the best player Mitchell has ever lined up against. But Mitchell is a competitor who hasn’t backed down when facing stars in the NBA. He wore Damian Lillard’s shoes while putting up 28 points against the his Trail Blazers.

Mitchell’s scoring efficiency has been fairly poor on this road trip so far (he’s scored 61 points on 61 shots), but this is a game where he can continue to build his brand and get more national attention while facing an all-time great.

Most Likely Jazz-Killer: Kevin Love

Cleveland Cavaliers v Indiana Pacers Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

LeBron James will get his points, rebounds and assists. That’s just a fact. Limiting James’ teammates will likely be where this game is won and lost. Tristan Thompson could be a problem on the offensive boards if Favors struggles or goes out again, but Kevin Love should be a focus for Utah.

Against the Rockets, the Jazz did relatively well in limiting the two-headed dragon of James Harden and Chris Paul, but Ryan Anderson broke Utah’s back with threes going 5-6 on the night and 9-11 overall for 23 points. Kevin Love could wind up being the same kind of killer if Utah isn’t careful.

Love is shooting 50 percent from deep in December and has made 8 of his last 11 three-pointers.