By Ben "Napoleon" Wilson (@napoleonkfan)
The Miami Heat (24-11) bring their show to Salt Lake City tonight to face the Utah Jazz (20-19). This will be the first home game in a stretch that has the Jazz at home for 10 of their next 12. Here's Kevin Graham, Kyle Gunther, and Sean O'Connell on the game:
Kevin Graham (@KevinGrahamKFAN): "It’s clear who the better team is which means the Heat should roll but as we’ve seen with the Jazz they have a tendency to step up when you’re not expecting it. With that said, LeBron averages more points against the Jazz (30.4ppg) than any other team in the league. It must be because Jazz fans give him standing ovations when he plays well. Add in that they arrived here Saturday night and with the cold temperatures to keep them from 'making it rain' here in our crazy town they should be well rested. I’m expecting the Heat to win by at least 10 points."
Kyle Gunther (@GuntherKFAN): "Tonight's game at ESA is what being an NBA fan is all about. You get to suck down gallons of ice cream with the family while watching the Jazz battle the world champs. Lebron James is currently the hardest person to guard in all of basketball on planet Earth. Who will the Jazz use to attempt to curb the ferocity of King James? No one man can stop the human battering ram with 30' of range so the Jazz will have to help each other on every possession. If the Jazz continue to rotate and help each other on defense from the first quarter to the fourth they have a chance to only lose this game by 7."
Sean "OC" O'Connell (@OCkfan): "The Jazz have a chance in this on if Coach Corbin can find the right balance of scorers with defenders in his rotation. Lebron and company will get theirs. Can the Jazz get guys other than Millsap and Jefferson to score the ball? Will Foye, Hayward, Favors, etc. get into double digits to help out?"
Vegas has the Heat as a 3 point favorite in this matchup. The Jazz are 11-4 at home. The physical style of ball the Jazz play is helped with a home court advantage. Even though the Heat dominated the first game in this series in Miami on December 22 (Heat 105 Jazz 89), the Jazz are a matchup nightmare for Miami and their finesse style of play. If the referees swallow their whistles tonight, the Jazz have a shot of stealing one from the champs.
Here's a look at tonight's officiating crew: Courtney Kirkland- This will only be Kirkland's second assignment of the season. In his only game of the season only 30 fouls were called, well below the league average per game of about 42. Eric Dalen- Dalen also has a reputation for letting the guys play calling just 38 FPG this season in 25 games called. Dalen's whistles seem to favor the road team, however, as 51.7% of his fouls are called on the home team this year. Ed Malloy- Tonight's crew chief calls the most fouls on the crew (still below league average) with 40.3 FPG. Malloy whistles fouls on the home team 48.7% of the time.
From a Jazz perspective, the numbers on the crew seem to suggest that they will let the guys be a little more physical than usual, which should help the Jazz.
For all the latest on the Utah Jazz tune in to Gunther & Graham from 3:00-7:00 every weekday on 1320 KFAN