I keep assuming the Utah Jazz are going to defeat the Denver Nuggets in the playoff series that starts tonight. It is dumb. First, I was assuming the Jazz would beat the Los Angeles Lakers a few weeks ago--on the road. Second, when I think about what wins a playoff matchup, the Jazz don't really have any edges over the Nuggs, besides coaching.
Elite Player in the Series
Carmelo Anthony. This isn't even close. Anthony averaged 28.2 points per game against the entire NBA this season and 33.5 against the Jazz (in two games). Worse yet, Utah has not shown any ability to control this man. I forgot, does he still wear a headband? I seem to remember him ending that fashion practice. If he has stopped, I like him 20 percent more than if he still wears it.
Kenyon Martin has been hurt recently, and but is back. He might be slowed a bit, but his anger is the most important thing he brings to the Denver squadron.
The Jazz are still missing Andrei Kirilenko. Their best player, Carlos Boozer, is back but hurting. Mehmet Okur has been playing hurt recently. Deron Williams is probably ailing too. His ball handling, passing and decision making have been to sketchy over the last 10 games for nothing to be wrong with him. Then again, maybe he is just really sad that Ronnie Brewer is no longer a Jazz.
Edge: Neither. Both were 6-4 over the final 10 games. The Jazz only played good in one of those games, versus Oklahoma City. Even in that game, though, the defense was non-existent.
Denver has Chauncey Billups, the Jazz kind of have Boozer, and sometimes Williams. Wesley Matthews will probably take his place as the Utah's leader sometime next season, but he is still a rookie and I think Williams would hate a rookie telling him to sack up a bit.
Martin, Nene, Chris Anderson and Billups are tougher than Boozer, Matthews, Williams, Paul Millsap and Ronnie Price. I wish this were closer than it is. Maybe Matthews will inspire his teammates. Matthews is good Jazz.
The Jazz aren't as nonathletic as most think, but they don't stack up with Anthony, Anderson, Martin, JR Smith and Nene
The Jazz have Okur, Kyle Korver, Williams, Matthews and Calvin Miles. All can be good shooters, but none are automatic. For Denver, Anthony won't be stopped. Then there is JR Smith. Which brings us to....
This could also be the ticking time bomb. JR Smith can light any team up. He will probably win one game by himself this series.
Jerry Sloan versus an interim coach is not even fair. Hopefully Adrian Dantley will blow a close game.
See what I mean? The Jazz are toast.
Denver also has homecourt. Utah is a better road team, but they have been terrible in Denver.
Prediction: Denver in 6
For the Jazz to win this series:
1)Someone needs to catch fire. This is unlikely. Utah's offense has been pretty bad lately.
2)Boozer's injury can't be a factor. He needs to be able to extend on his post shots.
3)The Jazz be scared in the playoffs like the have been the last two years. They have a tendency to avoid making passes that involve even the slightest risk. So, they never make a pass into the post, or a pass off penetration.
4)Matthews needs to guard Anthony, and do a good job. Kirilenko wouldn't stop Anthony, so maybe it is a good thing he is out for the series. It might force Matthews to defend Anthony. Matthews is a much better on-the-ball defender than Kirilenko.
5) Someone needs to start a fight in one of the first two games. I nominate Kyle Korver, but it will probably be Price.
I'm still assuming victory, but I know that I am just being an (J)azz.