Utah Jazz 2017-18 Week Nine Outlook, Predictions

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 9: Thabo Sefolosha #22 of the Utah Jazz is seen before the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on December 9, 2017 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 9: Thabo Sefolosha #22 of the Utah Jazz is seen before the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on December 9, 2017 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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CLEVELAND, OH – DECEMBER 9: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a play against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 9, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – DECEMBER 9: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a play against the Philadelphia 76ers on December 9, 2017 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images) /

12/15 Utah at Cleveland

5:30 pm MT – AT&T SportsNet/League Pass

Opponent record: 19-8

Season series: Tied 0-0

You didn’t think the week could possibly get easier, did you? Well, if you did, you were certainly wrong. One night removed from playing the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Jazz will go on to play the team that is arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference (despite having a worse record than the C’s) and certainly has been the hottest.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have once again overcome some early woes and are now looking like the best team in the East. They recently put up a 13-game winning streak that was only just snapped by the Indiana Pacers in a thriller on Friday, but then bounced back on Saturday to beat a tough Philadelphia 76ers team. With the win, the Cavs have won 14 of their last 15 which has put them comfortably in second place in the East and rapidly catching up to the Boston Celtics.

Is anyone surprised at Cleveland’s so-called turnaround? With the legendary LeBron James leading the charge, we had to all know that their ascension back to the East’s upper echelon was imminent and with James playing some of the best basketball of his career, there’s no questioning that his Cavaliers team is going to be tough for anyone to beat. They’ll be especially tough to beat for a Utah Jazz team that’s been awful on the road and will be playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Jazz have a few guys they can throw at LeBron and I’m excited to see how new Jazzman Thabo Sefolosha does against him in a Utah uniform, but overall there’s going to be little the Jazz can do to stop James and his stalwart team. LeBron’s far from the only one who has been playing well for Cleveland of late as they’ve benefited from strong performances from Kevin Love and Dwyane Wade during their hot stretch as well.

Therefore, as this contest will pair one of the hottest teams in the league in the Cavs with a team that’s in a bit of a rut in the Utah Jazz that also happens to be quite outmatched by LeBron and Co., I’m expecting a second straight loss for Utah in Saturday’s bout.

My Prediction: Cavaliers Win

Final Score: Cleveland 112, Utah 98

Next: Utah Jazz vs Milwaukee Bucks: Road trip starts out flat

Thus, as painful as it is to say, I’m expecting the Jazz to remain under .500 after the conclusion of the week as I’m pinning them to go 1-2, which would bring them to 14-16 heading into Week 10. While it would be nice to see them earn a big statement win over Boston or Cleveland, with the way those two teams have been playing and considering how bad Utah has looked in their recent slump, such an outcome seems almost unfathomable.

We all knew that the month of December was likely going to leave the Jazz battered, so quite honestly a 14-16 record through this stretch wouldn’t be absolutely horrific. However, if the Jazz can’t find a way to beat the Bulls and instead fall to 13-17, that could almost be considered a new rock bottom for the season.

Fortunately, just as I can hardly fathom a win over Boston or Cleveland, I have a really hard time seeing Utah’s woes being so great that they can’t overcome the Bulls. They’ve surprised me before, though, so of course nothing can be taken as a guarantee.

The fact of the matter is that the following week doesn’t get any easier for the Utah Jazz by any means, so any sort of confidence or improvements they can muster this week will be absolutely vital as they look to stay afloat through the toughest month that any team faces this season.