As much as everyone says this is the toughest stretch of the season for the Utah Jazz, they’ve already proven their dominance with nice wins against the Los Angeles Clippers, twice against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Boston Celtics, the Denver Nuggets and then a lot of wins against midde-of-the-road teams as well. Tonight the Jazz can put another feather in their cap with a win against the Miami Heat.
The Heat are on their own win streak having won four strait. It also appears they’ll have Tyler Herro back who was missing action because of health and safety protocols.
UPDATE: Tyler Herro accompanied the team to Salt Lake City last night for tomorrow night's game vs the Jazz and is no longer in the NBA's health and safety protocols.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) February 12, 2021
It’s not clear if Mike Conley will be back. Most likely not as the Jazz are probably wanting to play it more safe this year than last season. If you remember, Conley missed time last year with a hamstring injury and when he came back re-aggravated it and ended up missing extended time. This injury is apparently not as bad as last year’s but the Jazz will most likely be looking to play this one as safe as possible.
Some Mike Conley injury stuff. I’m told the hamstring injury isn’t as bad as the one last season.— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) February 9, 2021
To be clear: there is no timetable on his return. The Jazz are going to make sure he heals completely. But as for severity, it isn’t as severe as the one last year
A good sign is that Conley is practicing with the team and that bodes well for him returning at some point in the near future.
Mike Conley went through portions of today's Jazz practice, but not the full session.— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) February 11, 2021
This could mean a myriad of things but the obvious one is that he’s testing that hamstring to see how it’s recovering. When he actually returns is a big question mark.
When: Saturday, February 13th, 2021 7:00 PM MST (9:00 PM ET)
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone
What to watch for
Can the Jazz defense hold up against the Heat’s balanced attack?
These teams are similar in that the Heat have multiple ways to beat you. Whether it’s Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro or Goran Dragic, the Heat come at you from all angles.
Every Jazz player needs to be at their best on defense so the Heat don’t find holes to take advantage of.
Rudy Gobert has been the best defensive player in the league by far and matches up well against Adebayo. He should be able to protect the paint for the most part so Utah’s perimeter defenders have to be good against Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro.
It’s no small task for Utah as the Heat are a tough, hard-nosed team that will come at them with their own physical defensive play. This is Utah’s chance to show just how tough they are and come away with another win and more bragging rights as they inch closer to all-star break.
Can Donovan Mitchell keep up this incredible playmaking?
At a certain point you have to acknowledge who Donovan Mitchell is, and that’s one of the most versatile players in the league.
With Mike Conley out, Donovan Mitchell has stepped up in a big way with his playmaking. In the three games without Mike Conley, Mitchell is averaging 9.3 assists per game and he’s doing it in a myriad of ways. He’s kicking out the ball on his drives and setting up three point shooters, he’s hitting Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors inside and he’s doing ridiculous passes like this one:
this is OUTRAGEOUS #MACU3 | @MountainAmerica pic.twitter.com/zhIqlfPIV2— utahjazz (@utahjazz) February 13, 2021
This just proves that Mitchell is willing to play whatever role the team needs him to to win. When Mike Conley returns, Mitchell can slide into a more score-first role, which is the hardest role to play for your team.
If you didn’t appreciate Mitchell before, which would be weird, this should help. He’s a winner that will take on whatever the role the team needs him to. Anyone who doesn’t think he has a case for MVP is mistaken.