Heat at Jazz
Miami's recent offensive struggles are over, thanks to an unlikely hero and his barrage of 3-point shots. That recipe may have similar success Monday as the Heat continue their six-game Western road swing with a game in Utah. Miami improved to 1-2 on the trek with a 128-99 win in Sacramento on Saturday, a rout fueled by a 34-point outing from Mario Chalmers that included 10 3-pointers. Next up: a Jazz team that allows foes to shoot 37.8 percent from long-range, the third-worst mark in the league.
The Heat needed Chalmers' outburst after averaging a paltry 83.5 points in consecutive losses to the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers. With games against the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers on the horizon, Miami would love to build some momentum before arriving in California. First, they'll do battle with a Utah squad that squeaked out a 90-87 win in Detroit on Saturday to finish their three-game east swing 1-2. Monday's game marks the opener of a three-game homestand.
TV: Sun Sports (Miami), ROOT Sports (Utah)
ABOUT THE HEAT (24-11): Chalmers' outburst wasn't just rare: it proved to be a first. The oft-overlooked point guard became the only player to outscore teammates Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James on a night where all three played. That may not kickstart a trend, but it was a welcome sight for a Miami team that had gone four games without surpassing the 100-point mark. In the absence of another career night from Chalmers, Miami would like to see James return to his MVP form. The superstar forward is averaging just 23.8 points in six January games - a tick below his season average of 25.9 - while his rebounding and assist totals have suffered a modest drop, as well.
ABOUT THE JAZZ (20-19): A night after blowing a 15-point lead in a loss to Atlanta, the Jazz rallied from 15 down to beat Detroit. Al Jefferson led the way, scoring 10 of his 20 points in the third quarter. Jefferson has taken a slight step backward as he plays out the final year of his contract, averaging two points fewer than he did a season ago. He has been more prolific in January, averaging 18.2 points on 49.5-percent shooting - both season highs. Utah will need to improve its perimeter defense if it hopes to secure a Western Conference playoff berth. The Jazz allowed Charlotte, Atlanta and Detroit to shoot a combined 17-for-43 from 3-point range on the road trip.
1. The teams last met Dec. 22, with James' 30 points lifting Miami to a 105-89 home win.
2. Jefferson averages just 12.8 points in 16 career games against Miami.
3. Jazz SF Marvin Williams hopes to return Monday after missing Utah's three-game road trip with right knee inflammation.
PREDICTION: Heat 103, Jazz 98.