After a couple of days rest, the Miami Heat will be hosting the Utah Jazz in the second of a six game home stand. The Jazz are in a familiar setting to the Heat, with newcomer Al Jefferson adjusting to coach Sloan’s sytem, Mehmet Okur out indefinitely due to Achilles heel surgery and Kirilenko coming back full force from last year’s injury. Add free agency acquisition Raja Bell, Franciso Elson and rookie Gordon Hayward for a fresh Utah brew, not far from what the Heat are cooking down South.
· After losing their first two games to the Nuggets and Suns, the Jazz re-grouped to beat the young Thunder in a convincing 21 point rout followed by a 17 point conquest of the Raptors. Since then, the Jazz have unusually lost to the Warriors and followed with a dramatic double overtime win over the Clippers.
· Obvious in their green synergy, the Jazz’s efficient offense has dropped from 8th in the league last season to 22nd so far.
· The Jazz have their own big three to fill the stat sheet. Elite point guard Deron Williams is coming in with 9 APG while contributing 20 PPG. Millsap is chiming in an equal 20 PPG with 11 RPG to boot and newcomer Al Jefferson is bringing his usual double double with 18 PPG with 10 RPG for a short but hefty frontcourt tandem.
· It's not a plane, it's not a Brady, it's not a Bieber. It's Andrei Kirilenko, the highest paid player of the Utah Jazz. Mr. One Free Groupie a Year holds an expiring contract of $17.8M, setting the layout for a possibly eventful season and sumer. The Jazz could keep him and save money this summer or they could trade him to a team looking for some financial relief in exchange for a few promising pieces to round out the roster. Andrei will be 30 years old next season and primed for his last solid contract in the NBA or possibly Europe (CSKA Moscow is a rumored suitor) if he gets an offer he can't refuse.
· After blowouts to teams the Heat are meant to beat, a match against an elite and established team serves a more benefecial test to the team's defense and harmony. Unfortunately the Jazz are not yet at their optimum performance level yet but have enough tools to compete. Specially at the position the Heat are seemingly most vulnerable in: point guard.
· So far, elite point guards have given the Heat fits (Rondo, CP3) and Deron Williams will surely be a handful tonight. Wade took the defensive assignment and hampered Chris Paul one-on-one but was nullified in the pick and roll. Wade or Lebron defending the best opposing player will not suffice. It will take all five.
Jazz – Deron Williams, Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko, Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap
Heat – Carlos Arroyo, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony
When/Where: 7:30 PM EST, American Arlines Arena. Broadcast on Sup Sports and NBA TV.