Sometimes stats lie.
TrueHoop reader Daniel finds a certain kind of perfection in the Western Conference standings. In the early going, the Jazz have been fantastically average:
- They have two wins. They have two losses.
- They have won one game at home. They have lost one game at home.
- They have won one game on the road. They have lost one game on the road.
- They have won one game in their division. They have lost one game in their division.
- They have scored 106.8 points per game. They have allowed 106.8 points per game.
Let me say first that I realize that neither Daniel nor Mr. Abbott's intent was to say that the Utah Jazz are an average team, and that that is an amazing set of circumstances. Good eye, Daniel! (Does Daniel tweet? I'll follow)
However, I'd hate for "average" fan to let that tell 'em the story of the Jazz's season thus far. For the true story is something else entirely, and it goes something like this...
A long time ago...
Okay, not really, but it sure seems like another lifetime now that the Jazz were channeling their inner Timberwolf. After two games the Jazz sat squarely in the cellar on both offense (27th) and defense (28th).
The last two games have seen Utah looking a lot more California and feeling a lot less Minnesota, soundly trouncing the NBA's new darling OKC Thunder whom most picked to win the NBA's Northwest Division along the way.
Through two the Jazz had:
Won only 1 of 8 quarters
An average points spread -19
In the two games since the Jazz have:
Lost only 1 of 8 quarters
An average point spread of +19
The initial numbers suggest that the Jazz are stuck squarely in the middle NBA's stat sandwich, while in fact the opposite is true.
It's simply a tale of two teams to this point in the story of the season. Chapters one and two were slow and uninspired, but the plot picked up for Jazz fan in chapters three and four as Utah keyed their offense with energy focused from the defensive end of the floor.
Since finding their stride Utah has dominated for 6 of 8 quarters, faltering only in the 3rd period of each of the last two games.
These 3rd quarter anomalies in the last two games are a bit troubling, but when they are factored out of the equation Utah is winning quarters on their current streak to the tune of plus-six a period, holding opponents to an anemic 22.7 pts-per.
If the Jazz were to play defense for four quarters instead of three they'd be keeping 'em down to 90.8 pts-per-game, good enough for the 4th-stingiest defense in the league to go along with their already-leapfrogging offense (11th-best).
The Jazz are gelling far faster than most had anticipated.
While Utah lost two quarters by double-digits (and almost another at -9) through two games, they've since won three of 'em by double-digits. It's the difference between night and day. Yin and Yang. Offense and defense. Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.
It's the difference between losing and winning.
The difference between "average" and "outstanding."