Preview: Miami At Utah
When: 9:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 9, 2016
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
The Miami Heat won the opener of a tough three-week stretch and attempt to emerge victorious for the second straight night when they visit the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Miami recorded a 103-95 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday to open a road-heavy sequence in which they play 14 of 16 games on the road.
The victory over the Suns improves the Heat to 11-2 against Western Conference foes and Miami’s next five games — all on the road — are against teams from the West. Shooting guard Dwyane Wade scored 27 points in Friday’s victory and he is averaging 24 points while making 20-of-22 free throws during the past three games. Utah has lost three straight contests and is just 5-10 after being .500 through 20 games. The Jazz are hopeful of having power forward Derrick Favors back in the lineup — he has missed eight games with back spasms — as he delivered 25 points and 12 rebounds in a 92-91 loss to the Heat on Nov. 12.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FSN Sun (Miami), ROOT (Utah)
ABOUT THE HEAT (22-14): Miami received stellar games from point guard Goran Dragic (22 points) and reserve small forward Gerald Green (21) on Friday and there was a common denominator involved — both players were highly motivated to produce against their former team. Dragic, who fell out of favor in the middle of last season before being dealt to Miami, tied his season best for points, while Green remains upset that Phoenix elected not to re-sign him after last season. “Yeah, I was disappointed,” Green said after his fourth 20-point outing of the campaign. “But thank God for Miami. Us as an organization, we’ve got bigger fish to fry then worry about me getting a win because I played here last year. That’s petty.”
ABOUT THE JAZZ (15-20): Shot-blocking force Rudy Gobert returned to play 15 minutes in Thursday’s 103-94 loss to the Houston Rockets after missing 18 games with a sprained MCL in his left knee. Gobert expects his minutes to double against the Heat while coach Quin Snyder emphasized that he plans to be cautious with the amount of minutes the 7-foot-1 center receives. “Even though it was for a short period of time, I think he was excited to play,” Snyder told reporters. “Gradually we’ll get him back for longer periods of time when he can have a greater impact on the game.”
1. Heat PF Chris Bosh had 25 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots in November’s win over Utah.
2. Jazz SG Rodney Hood (ankle) is questionable after being injured in Thursday’s loss to Houston.
3. Miami C Hassan Whiteside is 8-of-23 shooting during the past three games.
PREDICTION: Heat 101, Jazz 97