The flu has made its way around the Cleveland Cavaliers’ (20-40) locker room. Dion Waiters will be missing his second straight game due to an illness, along with shooting guard Daniel Gibson. The reserve guard has played 22 minutes over the last 15 games, scoring three points in that time. The Utah Jazz (32-28) will be without center Al Jefferson (good timing for Zeller?), and Mo Williams is a game-time decision for his return to Cleveland. He will probably receive a warm welcome as always due to the fact that we traded him for Kyrie Irving:
Opponent’s Blog: Purple and Blues
Venue: Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland
Tipoff: Wednesday, March 6 at 7 p.m.
Betting Line: Jazz by -1
Where you can watch: Fox Sports Ohio
Where you can listen: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)
The Cavaliers didn’t hang their heads low for long after an excruciating defeat dished out by the New York Knicks. After being up by more than 20 points in the first half, the Knicks dominated in the second act to mount an improbably comeback victory without their star player. Situations like the one we saw on Monday night have happened too often for the Cavaliers this season. They know how bad it stings, but they also have the experience of getting right back on the horse.
The game may have had a different outcome if the Cavaliers hadn’t been overworked due to Zeller and Waiters being out. With a day’s rest in between, the Wine and Gold are ready to give the fans the victory they jipped them of on Monday.
With Waiters and Gibson on the bench, former Utah player C.J. Miles will be seeing plenty of time at the two. In his first game against his old team of seven seasons, Miles scored 12 points in 36 minutes. He will probably see around the same amount of playing time on Wednesday night due to Wayne Ellington’s poor performance on Monday.
Without Jefferson in the frontcourt mix, the Cavaliers may have a chance at victory tonight. Jefferson is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, as he averages 17.7 points and 9.4 rebounds. Paul Millsap should be returning to the lineup tonight. He is second in command behind Jefferson, as he averages 15.2 points and 7.4 rebounds.
The Cavaliers will have to deal with him and Derrick Favors, who is a defensive monster. Tristan Thompson will need to stand tough if he wants to work his baby hook against Favors. It can be done, but he has to be quick on his feet against the swarming Jazz defenders.
Marreese Speights, who is coming off his best performance as a Cavalier, will provide extra help down low in combating Millsap and Favors. If he can have another shooting night like last night, it will open things up down low for guys like Thompson or Zeller.
Utah needs to figure out what their point guard situation is. Should they trust Williams during this month-and-a-half stretch? Irving will have a field day with whomever he’s matched up against, and he needs to bounce back from his previous shooting performance against the Knicks. I’m leaning toward the Cavs in this game. The Jazz are on the downswing. I predict them to miss the playoffs.