08 March 2009

20 games left

The Jazz finished February with a 10-1 record, putting them back in the thickness of the Western Conference playoff standings. With April being considered a great month if they finish better than 3-5, March is the pivotal month in determining their playoff seeding.

So far, Utah is off to a 3-0 start with twelve games left before deadly April. Though they are on a somewhat impressive 10-game winning streak, most people who talk about these sorts of things think this is where the Jazz come back to earth, crashing, but still surviving (Apollo 13) and earning a playoff berth. These people figure that, although they are now as close as a team can be from the #3 seed without actually being the 3rd seed, they will soon start climbing down the ladder. It isn't unrealistic to feel this way, as eight of the 12 remaining March games are on the road (besides two games, the rest of the current win streak came at The Larry) and four being the rear end of back-to-back games.

Those two things cannot be excuses, though, for a team with the talent that the Jazz have, which is a lot. There's three recent All-stars among their top six players and another who will be a multiple-time All-star and one of the NBA's deepest squads. There's plenty of height, more than enough shooters, and a point guard who runs an effective, efficient offense. Also, they have proven to be good enough to beat any team at The Larry.

Road and back-to-back games are more difficult than games in SLC, obviously, but they are not reason enough that the Jazz should lose to teams like Miami or Atlanta when playing under either of those conditions. If they do continue to consistently drop such games, then the only appropriate reasoning is that this team's toughness does not equal its skill.

I just saw that the Jazz beat the Raptors, so that pushes the winning streak to 11 games and the March record to 4-0. Nice. Getting the road trip off to a winning start has to be perfect for the team's away-from-home confidence.

Here's the rest of the schedule and how they should do. Thanks to utahjazz.com for making this schedule so easy to copy and paste. The rules of the schedule is that the Jazz are not allowed, barrying serios injury, to lose to a team that they are unquestionably better than, no matter the circumstances. Losing to better or near equal teams on the road is okay, but losing to them at home is not. Losing back-to-backs to such teams is less acceptable, but in some cases I might look the other way (but not until it happens -- as of now, it should not occur). Also, sometimes a game is lost that shouldn't be lost; maybe the opponent was on fire, or maybe a team just can't catch a break. Because these games are unpredictable, they will not be predicted, on account of me refusing to take the prefix 'un' lightly. Besides, there are always games that go the other way where a team gets one they maybe shouldn't have. It usually evens out.
*=back-to-back games

Tue 10 @ Indiana---Win
*Wed 11 @ Atlanta---Win
Sat 14 @ Miami---Win
*Sun 15 @ Orlando---Loss
Tue 17 vs Washington---Win
Fri 20 @ Oklahoma City---Win
Tue 24 vs Houston---Win
*Wed 25 @ Phoenix---Loss (This game could go either way)
Sat 28 vs Phoenix---Win
Mon 30 vs New York---Win
*Tue 31 @ Portland---Loss
Thu 02 @ Denver---Loss
*Fri 03 vs Minnesota---Win
Sun 05 @ New Orleans---Loss (again, could go either way here)
Wed 08 @ Dallas---Win (Dallas, along with San Antonio, is one of the cities that they Jazz can never win in, for whatever reason. Maybe LA, but this history doesn't quite seem to be there. So, even though I don't think the Jazz will win this game, hence the 3-5 prediction given earlier, they should)
Fri 10 @ San Antonio---Loss
*Sat 11 vs Golden State---Win
Mon 13 vs LA Clippers---Win
*Tue 14 @ LA Lakers---Loss

In the 19 remaining games, the Jazz should go 12-7, putting their record at 52-30. Not too shabby. It could go even better if the team can get over their road insecurities. If they can, they could possibly go 14-5 and really set themselves apart from New Orleans, Houston, and Portland, and put themselves in the class of the Lakers and the Spurs -- not only this year, but in the future. The way they finish this season not only improves their playoff seeding, but can be an indicator of the type of team they are going to be next season (assuming they don't lose Boozer or Okur to free agency).

It's all up to March.


  1. This road trip is scary, given the fact that it has been years since we won a game in Florida, we almost have to pick up wins in Indiana and Atlanta

  2. Not to mention the difficulty they have winning in the East no matter who they play.

    Indiana has a pretty good home record over the last 15 minutes and Utah loses there a lot more than they should.

    Watching them play games in the east are more of a crapshoot than they should be.