Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hello 2017-2018 Utah Jazz

The NBA season is officially under way. It sure is nice to be getting a little action again. After three games, there's still a lot left to be desired in terms of what to expect for the season but it appears that the silver lining is pervasive thus far. The Jazz have effectively exceeded expectations with Rubio bringing the passion that stifles on defense. Intriguingly, from the outside looking in, Gobert appears to be the underachiever when it comes to the defense. But I don't know. Have my expectations been blown out of proportion and I expect Rudy to make a visible impact on every play? Or is it that we've never had a backup center with the prowess of Epke Udoh that has taken my attention off of the stellar anchoring of the D that Rudy provides? Maybe it's that Rubio has been such a pest that I have tunnel vision for what's happening on the perimeter. Could it be the excitement surrounding Donovan Mitchell and his spider senses? In any event, I knew the Jazz defense would be great, I just didn't know it would be this incredible. I'm excited to see them take it to the limit.

A few notes from the games thus far:
The first game of the season was a thriller. Denver controlled most of the game up until the end of the third quarter and it appeared to be a Jazz fan's worst nightmare. The stellar offense of the Nuggets was outshining the defense of the Jazz and many fans became anxious waiting for something to happen. Then came Joe Johnson and Alec Burks. If the Jazz are going to be effective on offense this season, somebody is going to have to step up every game. This time, it was Alec Burks, showing what he is capable of after Joe Johnson got the ball rolling. Burks showed glimpses of his former self that has had Jazz fans hyping for years. Can he continue to shine or will he break out only on rare occasions? We will see. This game, he took control and led the Jazz to victory.
The game in Minnesota was exhilarating. It went back and forth as a game of runs. Toward the end, Rubio gave the T-wolves fans a bit of seller's remorse as he single handedly brought the Jazz back from down 5 to take the lead with only a minute left to go. Unfortunately, Father Time let Jamal Crawford off the hook for a quarter of basketball where he torched the Jazz with a load of 4th quarter points and a dagger three, right at the end when the Jazz were a possession away from a 3-0 season kickoff. Ultimately, the Jazz couldn't overcome.
A thought on the last play of the game...I worry that with Joe Johnson, the rest of the team becomes too reliant on his late game heroics to create any of their own. The last play of the game, when the Jazz were down by 3 with five seconds to play, Joe Ingles (who has been phenomenal from 3 so far this season and all of last) had a fine look from behind the arch but was determined to run the play to Joe Johnson, only to lose control of the ball, essentially squabbling the opportunity. I wonder what would have happened if he were able to make the read and take the shot. Could we all have been praising the $52 million man?
Finally, the Jazz gave the latest version of the Big 3 a thorough whooping. The Jazz were successfully doubling the score of the Thunder for most of the first half. It was a joy to behold. I came away from this one wondering where to give credit. Obviously, the Jazz defense was outstanding yet again but Westbrook was utterly pitiful. Just pitiful. He scored 6 points. Probably as few as he's scored in years but there's no way of knowing for sure. He went 1/4 from the free throw line. It just felt like he may have been off of his game but we can certainly give credit where credit is due to Rubio and the Jazz for knocking him off his rocker. I think the strategy of the game was to let Mr. Inefficient Carmelo have whatever he wanted and play white on rice with Westbrook and George. It was very effective. The garbage minutes were all the Thunder had to keep the game within 10. The Jazz dominated. 

Tonight, the Jazz face off against the Clippers and this will be another test. The Clippers without Paul seem to be a much more cohesive unit and potentially a bigger threat with the additions of Beverly, Gallinari, Teodosic and Lou Williams. All they need to do is rid themselves of the gaping hole who is the coach's son and they could really be scary. I love watching the face off of giants between Gobert & Favors and Jordan & Griffin. It should be fun.

No comments: