Miami Heat Must Keep Utah Jazz Off the Boards to Win On Saturday

By Nicholas Crimarco
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since the Miami Heat began the “Big Three” era, they have had a question mark at the center position. Miami has been going the unconventional route by starting Chris Bosh at center. They also go without a true power forward, having LeBron James and Shane Battier, both small forwards, starting the game. This gives opposing teams a lot of matchup problems, but also leaves the Heat without a true big man.

While other teams also don’t start a true center, the Utah Jazz are not one of them. They began the season with both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter in the starting lineup. They struggled early on with a lack of outside shooting and spacing issues, so they moved Marvin Williams into the starting lineup at power forward and have Kanter coming off the bench.

Favors, who has always been a matchup problem for Miami, is averaging 13.3 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. Kanter, who plays only 25 minutes per game, is averaging 11.8 points and 6.0 rebounds.

In their first matchup this season, Favors finished with 17 points and seven rebounds while Kanter had 14 points and eight rebounds in only 17 minutes. Miami won the game 117-94, and out-rebounded Utah 41-33. The reason they out-rebounded Utah was because they shot a franchise record 63.4 percent from the field.

In their two matchups last season, they each won on their home court. Miami beat Utah 105-89 and out-rebounded them 39-38 in their first game. Utah then beat Miami 104-97 while out-rebounding them 40-23, including 13-5 on the offensive glass. If Miami can win the rebounding matchup or even keep it close, they have a good chance of beating Utah. If Utah dominates the board like they did in their second meeting last year, Miami will have a tough time pulling out a win in the second game of this road trip.

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