The Miami Heat don’t have a James Harden, or a DeMar DeRozan, or a Ben Simmons. So the Jazz will be spared from having to prepare for a superstar talent on Friday night.
That doesn’t mean the Heat aren’t a dangerous team.
They are fully capable of beating the Jazz on their home floor, as they proved last year in walking out of Vivint Smart Home Arena with a win. They have a dynamic point guard who is playing perhaps the best basketball of his career in Goran Dragic. And, of course, they have Hassan Whiteside, one of the better big men in the league, and one of the few who can match Jazz center Rudy Gobert in length and athleticism.
What makes them unique is their ability to go small, while staying big. James Johnson has been a find for the Heat, a 6-foot-9 power forward with small forward ability. He’s someone the Jazz have had issues matching up with in the past, and someone the Jazz will key on tonight.
“He’s a very good player,” Utah forward Thabo Sefolosha said. “He can grab a rebound and dribble the ball up the floor. He’s very athletic and he’s a good defender and shooter. He’s going to be a challenge for us.”
Heat at Jazz
When • Friday, 7 p.m.
TV • ATTSN
The Jazz enter Friday night with a 5-6 record, and are trying to snap a three game losing streak. Friday night represents a three game in four night stretch for the Jazz, including an unusual home court back-to-back.
Fixing a struggling offense is a priority for Utah, as is defensive attention to detail, which has been largely lacking over the past week. The Jazz know this is an important stretch. It won’t define their season. At the same time, they know they need to be a better team on both ends of the floor.
“We have to move the ball a little bit more offensively,” Sefolosha said. “We’re trying to go one against four, one against five, so we can’t have the ball sticking. We have a lot of new pieces, a lot of young guys. I think with more communication, things will get better.”