Utah Jazz at Miami HEAT Game Preview
Photo Credit: Issac Baldizon
The Miami HEAT host the Utah Jazz Sunday afternoon at AmericanAirlines Arena. Get your tickets now! The HEAT defeated the Jazz 84-74 in their last meeting on Nov. 10. Tip-off is set for 3:30 PM. Television coverage on FOX Sports Sun begins at 3:00 PM. You can also listen to the action live on 790 The Ticket.
1: How were the HEAT able to pull away with the overtime victory against the Knicks?
Couper Moorhead: Surprise, surprise, but they played very, very hard. With the perimeter shots not falling this game could have easily gone either way – Miami is 15-7 in clutch games this year but there’s always quite a bit of randomness in those minutes – but the HEAT came up with 15 offensive boards that helped them keep on keeping on. Once New York took an 86-80 lead with about six minutes to go, the HEAT corralled four more offensive boards before a Doug McDermott triple forced overtime.
It may have seemed that the Knicks were scoring fairly consistently and as far as the shots going in, they did. But Miami forced New York’s lowest Shot Quality of the season (an expected effective field-goal percentage of 45.7) largely by making life, and the simple act of catching the ball, as difficult as possible for Kristaps Porziņģis and Michael Beasley. We talk plenty about how Miami’s formula for winning is defending, playing hard and making threes, and Friday night having two of those three was enough for a very close victory.
Joe Beguiristain: It was one of those grind-it-out type wins that we’ve come to expect from the HEAT. Although Miami shot just 40.4 percent on the night, the team got some great looks within the flow of the offense (expected effective field-goal percentage of 52.1) and got it done when it mattered. Of course, Wayne Ellington led the team with six made treys, but a smart cut and fantastic rebound in the fourth quarter stood out the most.
On the flip side of the ball, James Johnson emptied the tank against both Kristaps Porziņģis and Michael Beasley, while Josh Richardson competed hard against Courtney Lee and also fared well on switches. What’s more, both guys led the HEAT with a combined 23 shots contested and drilled four clutch free throws (two apiece) in the waning seconds of overtime to keep the Knicks at bay.
That’s big time.
2: What did we learn from the previous matchup with Utah?
Couper: We might want to expect a grind. Miami trailed by as much as 12 points in that game following a 12-point second quarter until Utah scored just eight points in the third. The final score was 84-74 in a game that was played right around a league average pace and both teams shot below 40 percent, including 33 percent shooting from Utah. Now, the Jazz won’t have Rudy Gobert, who we will get to in a bit, but it’s a fool’s errand expecting anything but a slow, grind-it-out game against Quin Snyder’s group, especially with their ability to chase teams off the three-point line.
Joe: That last matchup with Utah on Nov. 10 was one of Miami’s best defensive games of the season. In particular, the HEAT made life miserable for the Jazz in the second half and held them to just 4-of-33 shooting (12.1 percent) after halftime. We also should mention that Dion Waiters went off in the fourth quarter with 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting to secure the win, but he’ll obviously be out this time around with that nagging sprained left ankle. Although he won’t be able to go, Richardson and Ellington have really made up for his absence.
Also in that last meeting, we caught a glimpse of what Donovan Mitchell can do. While the rookie had a nice spurt in the second quarter against Miami, nothing touches what he’s been able to do since. Mitchell scored 41 points against the Pelicans on Dec. 1 and tallied two 30-point games later in the month. More recently, he’s averaged 21.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.5 steals per game on 50 percent shooting in his last six outings. Simply put, the 21-year-old can do it all.
3: With Rudy Gobert out, how have the Jazz changed?
Couper: Without their best player the Jazz have shifted away from starting two traditional big-men and gone with Derrick Favors at center with Joe Ingles sliding into the frontcourt. And then they have Ekpe Udoh at backup center and that’s about it for Utah’s size. As such they’ve shifted to a more perimeter-oriented attack with rookie Donovan Mitchell leading them in usage rate (28.0) and for good reason – Utah scores 101.6 points per 100 possessions when Mitchell is off the floor.
Joe: Without their defensive anchor for most of the past two months, the Jazz have given up 106.7 points per 100 possessions since Nov. 11. As Coup mentioned above, Head Coach Quin Snyder has rolled with Derrick Favors at center with Gobert out. Although Favors is nowhere near the defensive stalwart that Gobert is, he’s much more polished on the offensive end. In fact, the Georgia Tech product has averaged 15.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game on 56.8 percent shooting over his last seven. While Favors can score both inside and outside, it’s nothing Hassan Whiteside and the rest of the HEAT’s bigs haven’t seen before. We’ll see how it all pans out.
- The HEAT have won 10 of their last 14 and are 21-17.
- The Jazz have dropped 12 of 15 and enter the contest at 16-23.
- Wayne Ellington is averaging 14.2 points per game on 41.9 percent shooting from downtown over his last 14 outings.
- Donovan Mitchell leads Utah in scoring at 18.2 points per game.
- HEAT Offense: 103.5 (22)
- HEAT Defense: 105.0 (12)
- Jazz Offense: 103.8 (20)
- Jazz Defense: 104.5 (9)