CLEVELAND — Trey Burke had his first quasi-homecoming in January when he played in Detroit and enjoyed quite the showing and reception from his Michigan fans.
He’ll get his second quasi-homecoming tonight at The Q when the 2011 Mr. Ohio Basketball plays in his home state as a pro for the first time.
“It’s a lot different,” he said. “The last two years, I was coming back home to play against Ohio State. Now it’s the Cavaliers.”
Burke, who grew up in Columbus, Ohio, anticipates he’ll buy about 25 tickets for family and friends who make the two-and-a-half-hour drive north on I-71 for tonight’s game between the Utah Jazz and Cleveland.
“I look forward to having fun,” Burke said. “I know Cleveland’s playing really well.”
Burke wasn’t the biggest Cavaliers fan growing up, but he rooted for LeBron James & Co., especially during playoff time.
He smiled recalling going to Cleveland for an NBA game when he was 6 or 7 years old.
“I was here when Shawn Kemp was playing. That was my very first NBA memory,” Burke said. “I already had a passion for the game. I was young, though. It was like a dream come true for me at the time. Now I’m back here playing. It’s surreal.”
Burke scored 20 points with a career-high 12 assists while leading the Jazz to a 110-89 win at Detroit on Jan. 17.
The Jazz point guard would be ecstatic if he can repeat that showing in Cleveland against All-Star Game MVP Kyrie Irving and the Cavs, who have gone 7-3 in their last 10 games.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin lauded Burke for how he handled that Michigan return and anticipates a fun point-guard matchup.
“He has enough on his mind tonight to worry about what Kyrie’s doing. It’s going to be interesting,” Corbin said. “He handled the Detroit situation very well and we’re looking forward to a great performance from him tonight.”
The 21-year-old Irving, in his third season, is averaging 21.4 points and 6.3 assists.
"He’s a young All-Star in this league. He’s a guy who can take over games at any time," Burke said. "It's going to be critical for me to kind of match his intensity, not make the one-on-one thing but slowing (him) down on the defensive end, pick and choose my spots on offense."
Cleveland beat Utah in the teams' first meeting, 113-102 at EnergySolutions Arena on Jan. 10. That was the first game in a Cavs uniform for Luol Deng after he was traded from Chicago.
Cleveland now has another new addition in sharpshooting big man Spencer Hawes, who came in a swap with Philly earlier this month.
The Cavs are coming off an impressive 114-104 win at Oklahoma City on Wednesday, while the Jazz enter this one having won two straight against Boston and Phoenix.
This game begins a six-game trip for Utah, the first time since 2003 the Jazz have had a road swing this long.
Cleveland, which still has hopes of making a playoff push at 23-36, will be without three injured players: former Jazzman C.J. Miles, center Anderson Varejao and shooting guard Dion Waiters.
Utah might be without backup point guard John Lucas III. He didn’t participate in this morning’s shootaround because of gastric distress and will be a game-time decision.
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