The Miami Heat (35-18) are the surprise team of the NBA this season (barring the Raptors, on a fifteen game win streak). Most media outlets were incredibly surprised by their signing of Jimmy Butler, viewing him as joining a group of slightly-above role players that had pretty much maxed out their ceiling. While the Heat have cooled off from their 2nd seeded standings in mid-January, it’s clear that Jimmy Butler and the ascension of Bam Adebayo, as well as outsize performances from young players Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson, who’ve pushed former All-Star Goran Dragic to the bench.
With that said, the Heat are in the middle of completing a five game West-Coast road trip, in which they lost to the Clippers, Kings, and Blazers, only winning against the Warriors Monday night. In the middle of this skid, they upgraded bench pieces Dion Waiters, James Johnson, and Justice Winslow for Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill, and former Jazz man Jae Crowder. While these were followed by a questionable 2 year, $30M extension for Iguodala (2nd year not guaranteed), trading away those three players who had played a total of 32 games on the season for seasoned vetz who could come in and play immediate bolsters the Heat roster for their second seed push.
The Jazz also peaked at the second seed in January, and has recently stumbled. While the Jazz are on the back of a three game win streak, coming off of road wins in Texas, Mike Conley continues to be in and out of the lineup - he’s questionable due to illness. In fact, the whole team seems to be a bit out of sorts: Quin lost his voice to the point that he was unable to speak to reporters post-game in Dallas, and “multiple players were spotting drinking throat-soothing tea recently”, per the Deseret News.
This again should be a test of the Jazz’s ability to stay strong in the face of challenges. The Miami Heat were the last loss before the Jazz went on that amazing 10 game win streak. That loss was the last game Jeff Green played in the uniform, and the Jazz would trade for Jordan Clarkson shortly after. Look for the Jazz to avenge that loss and finish out strong into the All-Star break.
When: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 • 7:00 PM MT
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports Sun
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone, WAXY 790 AM / S: WAQI 710 AM
What to watch for
Dual All-Star Matchup
The 2019-2020 NBA season has been dominated by sets of duos: Lebron and AD, Kawhi and PG, Giannis and Khris Middleton. The Jazz and the Heat are lead by their set of All-Star duos as well, with Bam, Donovan, and Rudy (finally!) making their first All-Star teams. Bam in particular has completely transformed his game, going from a rim-running power forward (8.9p/7.3r/2.2a) to a hub of the offense (16p/10.4r/4.9a) and while still anchoring the Miami defense on more minutes and similar efficiency.
Interestingly enough, they’ll all be playing on Team Giannis during the actual game itself, but look for the pairs to match up against each other often during this game. While the Jazz absolutely have stronger secondary firepower in the form of Bojan and Jordan Clarkson, in a league full of stars, look for them to shine.
Game Thread Ground Rules
Welcome to the SLC Dunk Game Thread.
Dunkers know how this thing works, but for you lurkers ready to make the jump to Dunker, we have a few guidelines. Remember to follow our community guidelines (no swearing, trolling, excessive use of Jerry Sloan’s name in vain, no personal attacks, no debates about Utah liquor laws, etc.). Remember to have fun. Anyone who dare blasphemes that Tim Duncan was a Power Forward (this means you, Pounding the Rock), Ben Simmons can hit threes, Gordon Hayward should not be booed, Donovan Mitchell is Monta Ellis 2.0, men should never cry, or John Stockton is not the best point guard of all-time will receive an automatic ban. Just kidding. But seriously.