It’s a clash of winning streaks between two teams who have had opposite starts to the season. The Miami Heat are on their best stretch so far, while the Utah Jazz are continuing to pile up Ws. Something’s gotta give.
Catch this game, tomorrow, Sunday, at 10 AM, Manila time.
HOME TEAM: Utah Jazz (21-5, 11-2 at home)
Projected starting five
- C: Rudy Gobert
- PF: Bojan Bogdanovic
- SF: Joe Ingles
- SG: Royce O’Neal
- PG: Donovan Mitchell (Mitchell will move to SG if Mike Conley is available)
The league-leading Jazz are simply firing on all cylinders. Following Saturday’s 129-115 win over the Milwaukee Bucks, they have won 17 of their last 18 games.
Though the recent victory didn’t feature a particularly balanced attack, four guys had a good outing. Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, and Jordan Clarkson all scored 25 or more points, with the three guards also combining for 18 assists.
Such performances may not be present tomorrow since it’s on the second leg of a back-to-back, but they are the top seed for a reason. Expect them to find other ways to explode should a struggle ensue.
Starting point guard Mike Conley (16.5 PPG, 5.8 APG) has missed the last three games due to a hamstring injury. It’s unclear if he’ll return tomorrow. Designated ‘3 and D’ swingman Royce O’Neal will continue filling his slot if he remains sidelined.
The Jazz are scoring 118 PPG in their last 18 games, and have an average winning margin of 13.7 points.
AWAY TEAM: Miami Heat (11-14, 4-7 on the road)
Projected starting five
- C: Kelly Olynyk
- PF: Bam Adebayo
- SF: Jimmy Butler
- SG: Duncan Robinson (possibly Tyler Herro)
- PG: Kendrick Nunn
The struggling Heat are finally picking up steam (pun intended). They have now won a season-high four in a row and are only allowing 97 points per game in that stretch. On Friday, they roared back from a 13-point lead against to earn a 101-94 road win against the Houston Rockets.
As always, it’s the Heat’s two All-Stars who are leading the way. In the current streak, Jimmy Butler is averaging an all-around 21 points, 9.1 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 1.3 steals per game, and Bam Adebayo is right there with him with 18.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks. While they have a stout defense in front of them tomorrow, they should be able to mirror such numbers.
Kendrick Nunn will continue taking minutes from the injured Goran Dragic. The second-year pro had a lukewarm start to his sophomore season, but he has come alive over the past three weeks, putting up 17.5 points, 1.5 steals, and 2.5 threes in that span. He’s been solid in his last three starts too.
As for the two wing sharpshooters are sidelined, they are on completely different stretches. Tyler Herro, who’s back after a one-game absence due to health and safety protocols, is averaging 17 points, 6.1 boards, and 3.9 assists per outing, while Duncan Robinson is on an ugly slump, only scoring 9.3 points on a woeful 29.7% shooting over his last four.
The Heat are averaging 107.5 PPG in their last four games.
The Jazz won’t be as smooth tomorrow because fatigue may come into play, which may be heightened considering the Heat are now playing with a lot of urgency.
The Mitchell-Butler and Gobert-Adebayo match-ups are both intriguing, as well as the possible back-and-forth between quick-trigger guards Clarkson and Herro.
If Miami is finally in their ‘2020 form,’ they should be able to capitalize. I expect the Heat to win, 109-103.