by Daniel Olsen | It will have been a big week for sports in the state of Ohio, especially in the last couple days. After all, when is the last time there was a Browns playoff game, a Buckeyes national championship game on Monday and a Cavs game in a three day period? You would have to go back to 2003 to find such a time.
Such will be the case when the Jazz take on the Cavs at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. This is following the first playoff win for the Browns since 1994 and a runner-up finish for The Ohio State University to Alabama in football.
If the Cavs lose this game, their fans should not lose sleep over it. However, if the Jazz lose then fans in Utah will have every reason to be upset. We will break down three reasons why this is the case.
1. The Browns winning is already big news:
The state of Ohio, especially the Northeast side had their fun when the Browns won their first playoff game in over 25 years! They will be just fine despite the Buckeyes losing to Alabama in the national championship. Well, Columbus might still be recovering from that but in Northeast Ohio, it has traditionally been a football area. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is just an hour down the interstate from Cleveland.
The Cavs did break a 52 year title drought in 2016 but the previous professional title was by the Cleveland Browns before the Super Bowl era. If the Browns can find a way to upset the Chiefs on Saturday then the hype will be real in Cleveland!
The Jazz, in contrast, are one of the only professional teams in the state. We have some minor league teams in the Grizzlies and Bees. We also have Real Salt Lake. However, the Jazz are the only professional team that is playing right now. When the Jazz lose, it affects die hard fans to the core.
2. This is the most meaningless game for Ohio in the last three days
In reality, one loss to the Jazz will not hurt the chances for the Cavs to make the playoffs. It’s still early in the season. The Jazz are 6-4 and 3-2 overall in their east coast road trip so far. The Cavs sit at 5-6 after their hot start has cooled off. Since they are in the traditionally weaker Eastern Conference, they still have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs this season. It would certainly be a surprise as they have been bottom feeders since King James took his throne to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers.
If the Jazz lose it will be slightly more devastating than if the Cavs lose. The Jazz play the Wizards tomorrow and the second night of a back-to-back is never easy. The Jazz need to at least split the next two games to finish with a winning record on this road trip. If the Cavs lose then so what? They get Wednesday and Thursday off and then host the Knicks on Friday. They will be fine as they look to improve their young team.
3. The Cavs are the furthest away from a title in Ohio of all the pro teams
The Jazz are serious about competing for a title. It might be difficult at the moment in the Wild West with the star studded Los Angeles teams but such will always be the case. If they can keep improving their own stars and build continuity in the team as a whole, they will be a tough out in the playoffs every year. Although they lost in the first round, they led a talented Nuggets team 3-1. They weren’t favored to beat them. They will learn from that experience and improve in the future.
In contrast, the Cavs are the furthest away from a title currently in the state of Ohio. The Indians may take a step back after losing star pitcher Francisco Lindor to Donovan Mitchell’s Mets. However, they have been a playoff team for most years in recent past. They had a 3-1 lead of their own that they lost to another team with the previous longest title drought in baseball. Instead, the Chicago Cubs came back to win their first title in 108 years.
The Browns were previously the laughingstock of Cleveland. They had plenty of disappointments in the 1980s, many of them to John Elway and the Denver Broncos. Red Right 88, The Fumble and The Drive still sting in the minds of Cleveland sports fans. Now the Browns seem to have a team that can compete in the postseason for years to come. If they get the right pieces then a championship is possible.
This isn’t even including the NHL team in the Columbus Blue Jackets (who made it to the playoffs last season) and the Ohio State Buckeyes, who have 30 team national championships to their name. The Cavs could certainly get on that same level if they get the right pieces but they haven’t proven it yet. In the Eastern Conference they could possibly make it into the playoffs as an eight seed with a losing record, but the unfair seeding between conferences is a subject for another day.
Prediction: Jazz win big
The Cavs are a young talented team that could give the Jazz trouble if they aren’t ready. However, they seemed to have learned from their past mistakes on this road trip. Let’s hope they win. You can check my prediction here as well as other games throughout this road trip. Because of the recent success of the Browns, the unimportance of this game in the Ohio sports world, and the rebuilding situation that the Cavs have been in for a few years, this game means way more in Utah than it does in Cleveland. Jazz fans deserve a win and I think that is definitely attainable tonight.
Featured image courtesy Ken Blaze – USA TODAY Sports