Jazz-Cavaliers Preview

BY foxsports • November 10, 2015

With an ailing roster around him, a bruised quad of his own and skimpier shorts, LeBron James is still willing the Cleveland Cavaliers to victory.

The Cavaliers have worked around health issues during one of the NBA's better starts this season and seek a seventh straight victory Tuesday night against the Utah Jazz.

Cleveland (6-1) has gone unbeaten since dropping its season opener 97-95 at Chicago, playing without guards Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert the entire time and swingman J.R. Smith for the last three games.

James, who said this week he is wearing shorter shorts to set an example for younger athletes, carried the Cavaliers to a 101-97 win over Indiana on Sunday - their fifth victory by 10 points or fewer this season.

The game featured a gutsy effort from James, who suffered a bruised left quad during Friday's 108-102 win over Philadelphia. He remained in against the 76ers to post season highs with 31 points and 13 assists and followed with 29 points, six rebounds and four assists versus the Pacers.

The four-time MVP said a few days into the season that he wants to play all 82 games for the Cavs, who are chasing their first 7-1 start since 1988-89.

"Most guys probably wouldn't have played with what he had, and he played, and you saw how he played," coach David Blatt said. "The guy is unbelievable. He really is. I don't have a better word than that."

Kevin Love also had a strong game against Indiana with 22 points and season-high 19 rebounds. With Irving, Shumpert and Smith out, Love has been more of a focal point - even becoming the topic of a halftime talk against the Pacers because James wanted him to be more involved. He has five double-doubles and has averaged 17.0 points and 12.6 rebounds.

Cleveland needed halftime speeches in its last two home games, the first coming from James Jones after a lackadaisical start against the 76ers. Still, the Cavaliers are 4-0 at Quicken Loans Arena and 24-1 in regular-season games there since Jan. 19.

Utah (4-2) has lost three in a row and nine of 11 in Cleveland. Though the Jazz have won three straight on the road and are starting to mesh, this game marks the start of a tough four-game trip that also features stops in Miami and Atlanta.

The Jazz can lean on their defense, which has held opponents to a league-low 85.0 points per game on 39.4 percent shooting.

While the offense has been led by Gordon Heyward (15.5 points per game) and Derrick Favors (14.7 points, 9.0 rebounds), Trey Burke has been a solid option off the bench.

After opening the season by going scoreless in nearly 16 minutes during a 92-87 loss at Detroit, Burke has averaged 15.6 points in the last five games, including 24 with a career-high six 3-pointers in an 89-79 home victory over Memphis on Saturday.

"You hit a couple and you start feeling it. Start getting hot," he said. "I just try to take an approach each and every day and stay focused in on that day - trying to get better."

The Cavaliers are 15-1 in their last 16 games against the Western Conference, and they have won eight straight against the West at home.

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