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Game Preview: 5 Questions about Heat & Jazz

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The Miami Heat are looking for their third straight victory as they host the Utah Jazz. Here's a preview about everything you're thinking.

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Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat just won consecutive games for the first time this season. Now, they'll try to get greedy and win a third as they host the Utah Jazz on Thursday night. The Jazz (4-3) are coming off a loss Tuesday in Cleveland in game they had a fourth quarter lead. Miami is in its third game of a seven game home stand. The Heat will again be wearing Home Strong jerseys.

We've learned that Jazz defensive center Rudy Gobert is questionable for the game.

Here's the details:

Utah Jazz (4-3) @ Miami Heat (5-3)
Thursday, November 12, 7:30 PM EST at AmericanAirlines Arena
TV: Fox Sports Sun, NBALP; Radio: 790 the Ticket

Probable Starters
Raul Neto PG Goran Dragic
Rodney Hood SG Dwyane Wade
Gordon Hayward SF Luol Deng
Derrick Favors PF Chris Bosh
Rudy Gobert C Hassan Whiteside

As part of the Game Preview, I've asked my friend, Steve Rawnsley of UtahJazzNation.com to give us some insight. Here's the exchange.

1. Rudy Gobert vs Hassan Whiteside. Who are you taking and why?
Great question. I would have to take Gobert, in my completely unbiased opinion. The Jazz finished 19-10 last year after the all-star break, and Gobert moving into the starting lineup is probably the biggest reason why. The Jazz are 2.4 better than anybody in defensive efficiency early on in the season. This defense is built around Rudy Gobert. That defense has held opponents below 40% shooting through the first 6 games.

Whiteside has more all around skill, but Gobert defensively is too much. I really think Gobert will be in the top 3 in defensive player of the year voting.

2. Gordon Hayward is off to a slower scoring pace this year. Has he peaked or is the Jazz offense more balanced?
The Jazz offense is a little more balanced. Rodney Hood is a very smooth offensive player, and gifted scorer. Alec Burks is a prototypical 6th man, he missed 2/3 of last season with a shoulder injury. Trey Burke really looks like a solid scoring PG off of the bench also. They have five guys averaging double figures. Hayward is getting 1.5 less FG's and 1.3 FT's less this year, so he probably will not get 19 PPG this year. However, his %'s will get better.

Players also go through slumps, especially in scoring. He had a rough four games. It just so happened that it happened at the beginning of the year. We tend to exaggerate for the better or worse the first few games because that is all we have seen of a player for a while. His last two games he has gotten 38 points on 23 shots. His scoring will probably be a little down due to more weapons, but when its all said and done, I expect his efficiency to be close to where it was last year.

3. What's the realistic expectation for this team this season?
This is rather tricky. The Jazz finished 19-10 last year after trading Kanter, and starting Gobert. In that span, they had a 94.8 defensive rating, which was first league wide. In that same span they were also 6.9 points better overall. This year is no different. Their defensive efficiency is 90.3, and they are 8.8 points better than their opponents, which is second best in the league. Again, its early in the season, but this team can get to fifty wins. (My official guess though is 46-36.)

4. Who from the Heat will cause the biggest problems for the Jazz?
Chris Bosh is the biggest problem for the Jazz. Derrick Favors is definitely more comfortable around the rim than outside. He is a great pick and roll defender, but his instincts tell him to retreat to the basket. Also the Jazz go with what they call their triple wing lineup a lot, with Hayward, Burks, and Hood. With that lineup, the Jazz can switch anything 1-4. Favors is not that bad on the perimeter though, and that is probably the weakest part of his game. If Bosh can knock down a few outside shots, then that opens up the defense. If Bosh cannot, then the Jazz have two elite interior defenders to really make life miserable for the opposing team trying to drive.

5. What's your prediction of how things will play out Thursday night?
In a very low scoring game, the Heat will win. This will be a grind it out type of game though. I think Heat fans that have not seen the Jazz will realize the Jazz are up and coming.

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