Gameday Dish: Jazz take on LeBron and the Cavs

Salt Lake City has traditionally been one of the toughest stops on the NBA map  – The Jazz won 90 percent of their home games during the 2007-08 season. But this year Utah is an uncharacteristic 14 and 6 at home. Tonight they face the top team in the East the Cavs and I expect they will come out looking to make a statement and re-establish their home court dominance. They’ve been off for two days and no doubt Jerry Sloan will have them well-prepared and I know the crowd will be as loud as ever.

But Cleveland is a great road team. Their 16 road wins have them tied with Boston for the league lead. The Cavs are playing as well as I have ever seen. With the addition of Shaq they’re more versatile. They can go big or play small with Varejao at the 5. They’re also the healthiest of the league’s top-teams. I’m sure they’d like to capitalize on the Celtics’ and Lakers’ injuries and create a little separation in the race for home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

The key to the game for Cleveland is defending Deron Williams, who was out the last time the teams met. He’s a tremendous player: he’s strong in the post, quick in the paint and has great range on his jumper. He’s averaging nearly a 20 and 10 and is the leader of a Jazz offense that dishes out a league-best 25.8 assists a game. I look for Cleveland to try and force the ball out of his hands and disrupt the flow of the Jazz offense. They also have to watch out for Boozer in the pick and roll game and stop him from crashing the boards and filling the lane. He’s healthy again this year and back to playing at an All-Star level.

The Jazz on the other hand will have to deal with LeBron. He’s on an incredible streak right now. He had 41/10/8 in the win up in Portland and 37 points and 11 assists in the victory over Golden State. If you guard him with a big man he takes him off the dribble. If you try to match up with a smaller, quicker player he’s backing him down. And if you double him he finds Varejao cutting through the lane or the open 3-point shooter. I think the Jazz will throw different looks at him and work hard to prevent the supporting cast from having a big night.

Looking forward to the game tonight – there’s going to be a lot of energy in the building. Marv, Reggie and I have the call at 10:30 EST on TNT.

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