If you ask a lot of Jazz fans, they will tell you that the team should never have been in this position in the first place. Just barely getting into 2019 with a record of 18-20, it feels like deja vu from last year and it is a pretty scary position for the team to be in because there is no guarantee at this point that they can turn it around enough to make the playoffs.
On the other hand, this is the point in the season that represents where they have the opportunity to turn it around, a fork in the road if you will. Yes, the next three games including tonight’s are on the road but two of those games are against teams that they should be able to beat and then not only are the next 7 out of 10 games at home, but they are also against teams that they mostly should be able to beat.
Just because they should beat them doesn’t mean it’s a guaranteed win but Jazz fans hope that when they are looking at the standings at the end of this month, the team has a winning record and are in a playoff position or at least a lot closer to it. That begins tonight with the beleaguered Cleveland Cavaliers.
When: Friday, January 4th, 2019 • 5:30 PM MT
Where: Quicken Loans Arena • Cleveland, Ohio
TV: AT&T Sports Net-Rocky Mountain, NBA League Pass
Radio: 1280 AM The Zone | NBA League Pass Radio
Ricky Rubio – Foot – Day to Day
Grayson Allen – Ankle – OUT
Kevin Love —
tanking Toe — OUT
Matthew Dellavedova — Foot — Day to Day
Ante Zizic — Knee — Day to Day
J.R. Smith —
tanking Undisclosed — OUT
John Henson — Wrist — OUT
Tristan Thompson — Foot — Questionable
Rodney Hood — Achilles Soreness — Questionable
What to watch for
The young rook
As many expected with the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, LeBron James’ departure has placed the eastern conference champs for the last 4 years at the bottom of the ladder. It’s no secret that they have pivoted to rebuilding/tanking this year as the team has appeared to turn the reigns over to rookie point guard Colin Sexton. Sexton, for his part, has been a bright spot on the team averaging 14.7 ppg in almost 30 minutes a game.
But the Cavaliers have not been able to overcome the absence of James and to make matters worse, all star forward Kevin Love was injured after just 4 games this season. The team has some nice young players including former jazzmen Rodney Hood and Alec Burks, but they are really just trying to find an identity after having a coaching change early on in the year and not a lot of hope for making the playoffs.
With all this being said, they show a lot of heart and have been in a lot of their games even if they ended up losing. They Jazz will have to respect them tonight, especially on their home court.
Can Utah’s offense get consistent?
The Jazz are playing game number two out of four in their current road trip and are coming off of a tough loss against the Toronto Raptors. The team had hoped to take advantage of a Raptors team without Kyle Lowry and get the new year off to a good start with a win but couldn’t get it done. The culprit for the Jazz in the last game was shooting and defense, like we have seen so many times already this season. The defense is showing signs in the last 10-20 games of being back on track, the question tonight will be can they shoot better? It doesn’t matter if you are playing an eight win Cavaliers team or not, if you can’t shoot better than 43% from the field and 28% from the three point line, you are not going to win many games. The fact that the Jazz have not played since Tuesday should help to mitigate any fatigue that they may have had from being on the road.
The game should be entertaining to watch from the standpoint that both teams are hungry for wins at this point in the season and also the fact that the Cavaliers have two former Jazzmen suiting up for them in Rodney Hood and Alec Burks. Let’s hope that we get a good, competitive game and a Jazz win!
Alec Burks revenge game?
Could the Utah Jazz have yet another former Jazzman make them pay this season? We already saw Jonas Jerebko sink the Jazz at the last second earlier in the year and Alec Burks has already had a game winner for the Cavaliers since being traded there:
It seems like anytime the Jazz play against a former player, that player goes off for a huge game. It’s probably not just a Jazz phenomenon but look for Rodney Hood and Alec Burks to take it to their former team. It will be equally entertaining to see what the Jazz are going to do to try and counter that.