Thursday, March 06, 2008
Jazz-kel and Hyde
It's time for my every-so-often Utah Jazz post. They're such a strange team most of the time. I know that the Jazz have been like this before (it was a HUGE deal back in the late 80s and pre-Jeff Hornacek 90s) where they are absolutely unbeatable at home but couldn't beat 5 guys from the Lowe's customer service staff on the road. Ultimately, that kind of play won't allow us to break our losing streak in San Antonio (the last time we won there was when Sherman was marching through Georgia on his way to the ocean). It also will make life extraordinarily difficult in the playoffs. It's definitely going to be hard, because in the 2008 Western Conference, a 50 win team will likely get a lottery pick. That means that going .500 the rest of the way just won't cut it. They might get in as the 4 seed based on Denver's continuing tradition of historic near misses in the Carmelo Anthony era, but barring them stepping it up on the road, they'll have to settle for a repeat of last year, starting as the 4 on the road and trying to fight up through the playoffs. Fortunately some of those road games are against weak teams...which brings me to my next point.
The Jazz are also all over the map on how they play. If they are going up against an elite team like the Celtics, Pistons, Suns, or Mavericks, they play hard and are very good against them. On the other hand, they'll turn it around and lay an egg against the Timberwolves (a team that has somehow been forever labeled the Pesky Timberwolves here, based primarily on Hot Rod Hundley's play-by-play from a decade ago) on their home court. There is no other team in the NBA that has less of a disparity in their win-loss vs teams over .500: their win-loss vs teams under .500. They've picked this trait up over the past few years, and I don't know if it's because they somehow think they can coast against weak teams despite Jerry Sloan's insistence that they can't, or perhaps it's in spite of it. Nevertheless, it bodes well for them, especially during the final 6 games of the season, when they play playoff teams exclusively.
I would love to see them really mature on the road and see Deron Williams get the Eye of the Tiger all the time. When he gets in f-u mode, the other team better watch out. When he's just playing a good game, they are good, but not great. Williams is truly the leader of the team and he sets the tone. While he doesn't ever coast, he needs to get that steel in every game and do what the best players ever have done (MJ, LBJ, Kobe) and take the team on his shoulders and say that there is no way they will be losing that game. They'll still lose, but if he had that attitude all the time, with the fantastic supporting cast he has, they would be the best team in the NBA. I love Boozer, AK, Brewer, Memo, and the rest, but there is only one player who can influence the team like that, and it's Williams. Stockton did the same thing back in his day (although it looked very, very different), but I think that in this sense Williams has the potential to be better than Stock.