Tuesday, January 18, 2011

halfway there

oh bon jovi. you live on a prayer indeed.

you know who else is living on a prayer right now? me. and probably you, since you're reading a mediocre blog about the utah jazz. things are rosy for jerry's kids, in one sense. barring a natural disaster in which deron williams is swallowed whole by the earth and ronnie price gets his legs severed by a razor-sharp stalactite, the jazz are going to make the playoffs. we'll have a guy in the all-star game (probably). even the northwest division championship is still a real option.

this isn't me freaking out about losing to the wizards. i understand that a few things are factors here: (1) another slow start doomed the jazz; (2) utah always loses a few games to awful, awful teams, usually in december and january; and (3) DC, despite their record, have a lot of talent on their squad, and clearly are capable at their best of beating a better team who is still (literallly) waking up at the tip-off.

no, these reasons/excuses for the loss are not what has me pulling a JBJ at the season's midway mark. what concerns me about the loss is how we lost the weird 1:00 pm EST game in the nation's capital. when the jazz offense is clicking - or even executing moderately - you can expect points in the paint (where al jefferson allegedly gets nasty). the jazz gave me a fun birthday present yesterday: 32 points scored from the greater key zone.

that's not going to cut it.

remember during the summer when all of jazzdom was clamoring, begging, dying for some personnel moves that would make the team longer? remember getting swept by LA because we had no answer for a dominant inside game against a team with several dudes taller than 6'9"? remember how those things seemed inextricably linked? and then remember how the new-look jazz were posed to have an answer for that via jefferson, millsap, okur, elson, fesenko, and AK?

well, if the jazz having five lurps on the team can't beat DC's handful of genetic freaks, the glow of "likely to make the playoffs" is less comforting when it's virtually certain that the road to the championship still runs through LA. check out those stats again: the jazz averaged 48.3 ppg in the paint last season. through this point, that average has dropped to 42.7. the lakers, meanwhile, have actually seen their paint ppg go up this year over last, from 43.3 to 45.8.

i recognize that having a high number of buckets made on layups and dunks doesn't guarantee rings for the players come june (memphis leads the league currently and crushed all comers in the category last season as well, while winning something in the neighborhood of 4 games per month). but for the jazz, whose win column depends almost entirely on executing sloan's interior-heavy offensive system, floaters and dunks are more than necessary.

watching the jazz struggle inside against an inferior team (despite my earlier lauding of its potential) does not bode well for april. perhaps i'll be singing a different tune on thursday morning, after sitting courtside at The Rock (if your local team played to 40% capacity at home games, you could afford $60 courtside seats once a year also) and seeing how the yazz handle a nets team featuring 6 guys at 6'9" or above.

i'm also moderately concerned for my life should the jazz win in boston on friday, since i'll also be sitting low for that one in a jefferson jersey and boston residents are notorious asshats about sports (even going to the lengths of making us watch movies featuring drew barrymore).

and yet i refuse to complain (too much). ah, the perks of having a northeastern home address; it might cost $200 a month to park a car that you can lease new for $150, but at least there are 5 NBA stadiums within a 5-hour drive.

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