The Utah Jazz continue on in their four game East road trip with the middle portion, a back-to-back set against the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. The first game, tonight, also: duh, is against the Heat. For some people the seminal version of the Heat seem to be that LeBron James / Dwyane Wade / Chris Bosh version that went to fourth straight NBA Finals. I'm a little older, which means I remember when the Heat were an expansion team. I remember their first season when they went 15-67 back in '88-89, and they were so bad that they were a Top 5 pick in the draft and used it on University of Michigan Champion shooter Glen Rice. Times sure have changed, as the Heat look to extend their Championship window in the NBA, and the Jazz are still trying to return back to the playoffs after a three season drought.
This season's Heat team may not be going back to the NBA Finals. But they are pretty good . . when healthy. Chris Bosh is still doing his "hey, I'm not an extinct organism trying to fit into Hooman society" thing. Dwyane Wade is still the idealized version of Alec Burks. Hassan Whiteside is like the East's answer to Rudy Gobert. Goran Dragic is like all those other great former Phoenix Suns point guards (well, okay, maybe that's a stretch). Luol Deng is finally able to play fewer than 38 mpg, so when he's in he's fresh. Justise Winslow is a great college scorer who will transition to the pros. Gerald Green is still a Jazz killer with his athleticism. Chris Andersen, Amar'e Stoudemire, and Udonis Haslem are all very smart, old, bigmen. And Josh McRoberts has nice hair.
Of course, Gerald Green is out with a team suspension. They recently traded Beno Udrih and Jarnell Stokes (for Mario Chalmers and James Ennis), and I don't know if they are cleared to play yet. They are questionable. As is Amar'e Stoudemire, with soreness in his knees. Oh, and D-Wade will miss tonight's game for personal reasons (his son is in the hospital).
So that does still leave Goran, Chris, Hassan, Luol, Justise, and company. But it's a Heat team the Jazz can beat.
Utah looks phenomenal with Rudy Gobert on the floor right now. They lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 114-111 -- but mainly because a) LeBron James is the best player in the basketball, and b) Rudy had to miss a few minutes during the 4th. (
Also c) the refs suck, but whatever. I'm over it.) Rudy is a game time decision for tonight.
If he's playing, this is likely to be a Jazz win if the rest of the crew keep playing like they have. Derrick Favors is a beast. Gordon Hayward is finding his place in this dynamic wing offense. Rodney Hood is learning how to be a starter. Alec Burks and Trey Burke are adapting well to new roles as well. The team is run by a rookie point guard who speaks English as a third language. Things are going remarkably well, if you ask me. Also, thank you Joe Ingles for being our second head coach -- your contributions are invaluable.
Anyway. Tonight: Jazz @ Heat. It's November. So it's not really that hot any more. Neither is Pat Riley 's team either.