Heat vs. Jazz preview: LeBron James hopes to continue reign over Utah

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James and the Heat look to start a winning streak as they continue their six-game road trip against the Jazz. James' career mark of 30.4 points per game against Utah is his highest against any team.

The Miami Heat's six-game road trip stops in Salt Lake City on Monday night when the Heat take on the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.

Miami lost the first two games of their trip before bouncing back on Saturday night with a 128-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Mario Chalmers led the way with 34 points and tied a team-record by knocking down 10 three-pointers. LeBron James added 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

The Heat remain on top of the Eastern Conference with a record of 24-11. With the New York Knicks' victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday, Miami currently holds a one-game lead in the East. The Heat are just 5-5 over their last 10 games, but the Knicks have failed to capitalize by going 4-6 over their last 10.

Utah enters Monday night's game coming off a hard-fought 90-87 win over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. Big man Al Jefferson scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while frontcourt mate Paul Millsap added 17 points and seven rebounds.

The Jazz have won five of their last seven games and hold a record of 20-19 on the season. Utah sits just one game behind the Portland Trail Blazers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Miami has won 13 of their last 17 games against Utah, including a 105-89 victory back on Dec. 22 at American Airlines Arena. James had 30 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, which is pretty much par for the course these days for the reigning MVP against the Jazz. James' career average of 30.4 points versus Utah is his highest mark against any team.

As witnessed in the first contest this year, James and the Heat's high-powered offensive attack could be a huge problem for a Jazz team that has struggled defensively for much of the season. Miami is second in the NBA in offensive efficiency and fifth in scoring, while Utah is 23rd in defensive efficiency.

Where the Jazz could make some hay is up front, especially on the offensive glass. Utah has a solid stable of big men led by Jefferson and Millsap, and Miami has had some real problems rebounding this season. The Heat are just 25th in the league in defensive rebound rate and tied for 23rd in total rebound rate.

Jefferson and Millsap did not take advantage of their situation in the first meeting, but both guys have been playing extremely well as of late. Jefferson averaged 23.8 points and 9.3 rebounds on Utah's recent three-game road trip, with Millsap being nearly just as productive. The power forward averaged 18.7 points and 8.3 rebounds on the roadie.

Injury wise, Miami could be without Shane Battier for a third straight game due to a hamstring injury. Utah is hoping that Marvin Williams will return after missing three games with inflammation in his right knee.

Tip-off is set for 9 p.m. ET.

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