Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Road Wow's and Woe's

While on their recent 4-game East Coast road trip, the Jazz outscored their opponents 419-416.  Moral victories.  However, the Jazz finished that road trip with a 1-3 record, actual victories.  At least the Jazz are heading in the right direction...back to Salt Lake City.  First, let's review their glorious journey through mega-metropolitan's like New York City, Philadelphia and Orlando!

Game 1: New York Knicks                                                                                                   L 101-106
Not a bad loss, not a bad loss indeed.  This game was essentially a tale of two halves. The Jazz outscored the Knickerbockers by 10 in the first and were outscored by 15 in the 2nd half.  Rodney Hood came off the bench to drop 30 in 32 minutes including 6-12 from beyond the arc.  The Jazz overall hit a season's best 17-35 three balls.  The game came down to a bounce of the ball and it bounced the Knicks way.  Again, not a bad loss to a potential playoff team.  But let's be honest, complimenting the Knicks on being an 8th seed in the Eastern Conference is like glamorizing over the 8th fastest turtle on the Galapagos Islands.

Extra Hair Gel: the line on this game was Knicks -4.  Well the Jazz were down 6 with less than 2 seconds left when Rodney Hood banks in an uncontested three, swaying the bet with no effect on the outcome of the game.  But this 'bad beat' wasn't finished.  Rodney Hood committed a "foul" almost simultaneously with the horn.  A foul didn't need to be called, I'm not even sure it was a foul.  There's more contact on a jump ball.  Regardless, a foul was called and the Knicks hit both free throws and the bet swayed back again for the Knicks to cover.  A roller coaster of emotions in an otherwise meaningless event for a select few out there, you know who you are.

Game 2: Brooklyn Nets                                                                                                       L 107-118
Every now and then when I think the sky is falling, I like to put myself in another fan's shoes who's rooting for another team.  In this process I compare players straight across, position by position.  With that said, there is nobody on the Nets I would want on my team.  Nobody.  They shouldn't win a game, like ever.  Yet here we are, losing...to the Nets.  In using another sports' analogy, the Nets had a punchers chance.  They threw a haymaker in the first quarter.  It landed square on the Jazz's chin and the Jazz never recovered.  The Nets outscored the Jazz 39-25 after one, and we're on to Orlando.

Extra Hair Gel:  Raul "nothing but" Net-o scored a career high 22 points.  He didn't start despite Ricky "the Matador" Rubio not playing.  More on Neto coming soon.

Game 3: Orlando Magic                                                                                                        W 125-85
First off, why did the Jazz go from Brooklyn to Orlando, only to take Space Mountain back up north to Philadelphia?  Whoever does the NBA scheduling needs to work part-time for Uber to find the shortest routes.  Back to the game.  Back to Neto (not pronounced "Neat-o" despite popular belief).  The Brazilian baller had a +/- of +44, 2nd highest in Jazz history.  That stat is neat-o, I know that much.  The Jazz played their best defensive game sans Gobert, allowing only 37 points in the 2nd half and just 38.3% shooting for the game. 

Extra Hair Gel: Derrick Favors had arguably his best game of the season, 25 points on 10-12 shooting, 5-5 from the charity stripe, and grabbed 11 boards with two blocks.  This was Favors' third double-double of the season, his 2nd since Gobert went down.  He's been close, but Favors should average a double-double as the starting center.  He's a good enough offensive rebounder that grabbing 10 boards should come standard for every Jazz game, like a program or Joe Ingles pissing somebody off on the opposing team.  It's likely that a minute restriction is causing this statistical unproduction as Favors has only topped the 30+ minute milestone 4 times out of 18 games. 

Game 4: Philadelphia SeventySixers                                                                                    L 86 - 107
"If only Gobert was back."  Jazz fans can say this for every game, but this one against Philadelphia in particular rings all too true.  Joel Embiid is so freaking good.  Ben Simmons is so freaking good.  Together they are really freaking good.  The Jazz didn't have a chance.  Shooting 35.3% while allowing 51.8% backs up that claim.  Gobert V. Embiid is going to be an all-time rivalry for years to come...if they ever play against each other. 

Extra Hair Gel: Nobody on the Jazz looked impressive this game.  However, the attitude from Jazz rookie and new fan favorite (in Gobert's absence) Donovan "Spida" Mitchell was something to get excited about.  Late in the 4th with the Jazz down by 13, the 6'3" Mitchell  took the ball up for a layup and was promptly swatted by the 7' Embiid.  The big man immediately stared down Mitchell as Mitchell got up off the floor to run down the other end of the court.  Not a fan of the stare down, (which you're 7' dude, bench yourself if you don't block that shot) Mitchell shoves Embiid who may or may not have taken a dive.  Either way, Mitchell got a technical foul on the play.  I love it.  Outside of Ingles I can't think of anybody else who has a technical in recent year.  Gordon Hayward wouldn't push over Embiid.  One knock on Hayward is the fire never appeared to be burning.  Let's see if teammates rally around Mitchell going forward. 

Takeaways and Turnovers: 

  • In every one but the Philly game, the Jazz hit over 10 three's.  They did hit nine against Philly but needed 28 attempts to get there.  
  • Rodney Hood is making a strong case for 6th man of the year.  Since being asked to come off the bench, Hood is averaging 21.3 ppg in that role.  
  • The Jazz are 2-5 with Hood off the bench recently, but this season is not about wins and losses, it's about growth.  Trust me Jazz fans, we need that motto more than we need Gobert back.  In my opinion, the Jazz have had a better roster than 3/4 teams they played on this road trip, yet won only one of those games.  Learning how to play with and around the best offensive weapon, Donovan Mitchell is going to be a process.  Trust the process.  Our process, not theirs.  
  • The Jazz are 1-7 on the road.  That's no bueno.
  • The Jazz ranked 7th in defensive rating according to NBA.com, they are also 2nd in steals, 4th in blocks, 2nd in fast break points allowed.  Can we get these to translate to wins?
  • Ricky Rubio's hair still looks remarkable.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Life After Gobert


Reports are out that Gobert is out 4-6 weeks!  <insert favorite four-letter word here>

Let's do the math, in four to six weeks it will be December 10 to December 24.  I'm thinking the Jazz will express caution on their $102 million investment and you likely won't see Gobert back until after Christmas.  Fear not fellow Jazzonians, the product of the Miller's only have 20 games from now until Santa Gobert comes down the chimney, sharing gifts of swats, deflections, frankincense and murr.

The Jazz, 6-8, could be in some serious trouble by that time.  Here's a list at current big men and rim ravagers foaming at the mouth with the absence of Gobert:
Kristaps Porzingas
Joel Embiid / Ben Simmons
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Nikola Jokic 2x's
Blake Griffin / Deandre Jordan
Anthony Davis / Demarcus Cousins
John Wall
Russell Westbrook 3x's
James Harden 2x's
Kyrie Irving
Lebron James
Lamarcus Aldridge

Just to name a few.

All in all it appears Gobert could miss between 15-22 games.  At which point the Jazz will be in a very precarious situation.  Do they throw Gobert back in the lineup on iffy knees that officially have a questionable history and make a run at the playoffs in a stacked conference OR rest him for much longer than expected and subsequently work your way up to a higher lottery pick?

For now, the Jazz are going to rely heavily on a relatively unproven rookie to garner the scoring load, oft-injured Derrick Favors to become the defensive replacement at the rim and hopefully some better wing shooting in the future.

The positive person in me thinks the Jazz will surprise many teams during this stretch and stay at or around the 7-8 seed.  The realist in me thinks the Jazz will suffer many losses they normally wouldn't have had with a healthy Gobert in the mix and close out the hopes for the season almost as quickly as it began.

For now, brace yourselves.  Winter is here and the Jazz wall has collapsed.