Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Storm Clouds

There is an ominous cloud over the SLC.

This young jazz team has morphed in the public's omnicscent eye from surprising underdog to championship contender in less than a year. Last year they wore their awe-shucks-nice-to-be-here masks into the Toyota Center and ripped the heart out of clutch city. Suddenly we were in the western conference finals. Against satan.

This series has a different feel altogether from last year's unforecast bloom. Taking two road games to start the series announced the ascendance. Arrival. No longer the out-of-nowhere tough guys. Now, a destructive force. But momentum is a fickle mistress in the playoffs. Since those first two games we have lost at home, edged out a win on (of all things) an Okur offensive rebound, and layed a gigantic turd in game 5. Suddenly, the Rockets, even with homecourt in their backpocket, seem like David, and we the tired, uninterested Goliath.

Like the stormclouds behind the two well-dressed businessmen above, things can change quickly. This weekend will likely find the Jazz hopelessly outmatched against the Lakers. Then, we can play our preferred role: snake in the grass. Until then, let's hope we can win playing the hated role of favorite on Friday.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

T Mac's Excuses

And so Tracy's whining begins:

"McGrady revealed Monday that he's playing on a left knee that's in such bad shape that he has had to take painkilling injections just to get on the floor. He hinted postseason surgery is a possibility."

Jarron's Role

At last, what we all suspected has been confirmed: Jarron Collins is the biggest waste of space to ever receive a paycheck from an NBA franchise. In this exclusive Deseret News interview he elaborates upon his role with the team:

"Collins said his routine is about the same every game — even between the time the Jazz do their final pregame chat and the tip. He always gives Boozer "a little fist pound" and then waits for Williams to give him the hot pack. He then shakes hands with Williams, Brewer, Boozer and finally Miles."

Notice, there is no mention of rebounding, defending, scoring, or competing, but just "fist pounds," catching hot packs, and shaking hands. $2.35 million a year? Really? Has Larry H. checked his payroll recently?

Monday, April 28, 2008

D Will dunk


Goin' Back to Houston to do more than the Hotdog Dance...

Obviously, the sooner the Jazz close out the Rockets, the better.

But looking ahead at the potential scheduling of the 2nd Round match up with the Lakers makes winning Game 5 all the more appealing for the Jazz. Whether the Lakers beat the Nuggets in Game 4 (more likely possibility) or Game 5, a Jazz-Lakers Game 1 would be set for Sunday afternoon on ABC (since the Lakers are already scheduled for that time slot in a potential Game 7 with the Nuggets). If the Jazz can close out the series tomorrow night, it would allow for 4 days of rest between the two series. If Game 6 has to be played, however, it will not take place until Friday evening. Finishing the series then allows the Jazz less than 48 hours to recoup, travel to LA, and take on the Lake Show. I'll reserve talking about this series with the Rockets going to Game 7, because if that does happen I'll have a great post with pictures of my broken television and my wife Lauren scolding me for breaking it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Why isn't this man on the Jazz?

I was once on a small path overlooking the Mediterranean sea when I saw two girls who looked like they were from Utah. "I'll bet they're from Utah," I thought. How did I know? There were clues, such as the bleached blond hair, the modest-yet-sort-of-skanky fashion sense, and the matching BYU/Jerusalem backpacks, but mostly it was just a gut feeling honed over decades of studiously observing Utah girls.

I get the same sort of feeling when I watch Battier: "I'll bet he's on the Jazz." He's not really athletic, he plays hard, he has a reasonable contract - overall, an efficient cog in the wheel. He's almost like every small forward that has ever played for the Jazz, except that he can shoot.

D Will

After last night's close victory, the Jazz are now up 3-1 against the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. Their success is primarily due to one man: Deron Williams. Leaving aside his two critical free throw misses down the stretch in Game 4, his play during this series has been nearly flawless. Just check out the stats. Nearly every other Jazz player has recently suffered a fairly major drop in offensive production (see Boozer, Carlos). That's not a huge surprise, as Houston is one of the top defensive teams in the league and, in general, the playoffs feature rougher play and more no-calls.

But amazingly, D Will's numbers -- as good as they've always been -- have actually significantly increased since the end of the regular season. He's shooting 55% from the field, 58% percent from beyond the arc and is averaging 22 points a game (tops on the team and 3 points more than his regular season clip). For the Jazz to make a deep run this year, more players are going to have to take a page from D Will's book.