Emerging Threat

In just his third season, Utah Jazz point guard Deron Williams has become one of the league's emerging stars.

Williams looks to continue his outstanding play Wednesday night when the Jazz host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Utah -9 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 196 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 77% of bets for this game have been placed on Cleveland +9 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

After playing a key role during Utah's surprising run to the Western Conference finals, Williams has been even better through the first four games of this season.

He leads the team with 24.5 points per game - eight more than 2006-07 - and is averaging 9.3 assists while shooting 55.2 percent (37-of-67) from the field. He has 56 points and 16 assists while shooting 23-for-35 in his last two games.

Williams is the biggest reason why Utah is averaging a league-best 113.5 points per game. Carlos Boozer (24.3), Ronnie Brewer (16.3), Mehmet Okur (14.3) and Andrei Kirilenko (10.8) are also scoring in double figures for the league's most potent offense.

Despite 26 points from Williams, the Jazz faltered down the stretch Saturday in a 119-109 road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, getting outscored 38-27 in the fourth quarter.

"We have the talent and strength to do a lot of great things, but we have to put the game on the court," Boozer said.

This will be only the third game for Boozer against his former team since he left Cleveland before the 2004-05 season. The forward, who signed a six-year, $68 million offer sheet with Utah on July 14, 2004, has averaged 15.5 points and 12.0 rebounds in two games - both losses - against the Cavs.

Utah (2-2) is trying to avoid falling below the .500 mark after five games for the first time since opening 1-4 in 2002-03.

Cleveland improved to 1-1 on a six-game road trip with a 108-104 victory over Golden State on Tuesday.

LeBron James fell one assist shy of his 11th career triple-double, collecting 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 22 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers (2-2), who were without injured guards Larry Hughes (knee) and Eric Snow (knee) and forward Donyell Marshall (wrist).

James excelled even after taking an accidental blow to the face in the first quarter.

"It bothered me some, and it's bothering me now, but I had to be there for my teammates,'' said James, who left the game only briefly. "If I could barely see, I still had to be out there.''

Hughes missed his first game of the season after suffering a bruised knee in Sunday's loss to Phoenix. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Sasha Pavlovic, who scored only six points while shooting 2-for-11 from the floor.

Although Hughes is averaging only 7.3 points and shooting 27.3 percent (9-of-33) from the field in three games, his absence forced James to carry a greater load offensively.

"It's a challenge for me, but I'm trying to do more things in my game,'' James said. "We're not as deep as they are, but we're experienced, and we know how to play basketball.''

James has averaged 28.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists in eight career games against the Jazz. He scored 51 points - five shy of his career high - in a 108-90 win at Utah on Jan. 21, 2006.

The Cavaliers have won seven of the last nine meetings in the series, including three of four on the road. They did, however, lose their last visit to Utah, 99-98 on Feb. 14.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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