Game 64: Orlando Magic (36-26, Road: 16-14) @ Utah Jazz (33-30, Home: 22-8)
*Takes a long sip of Diet Pepsi*
Tonight the Utah Jazz start their regular season ending three game home stand. And the Jazz will also to attempt to win their third game in a row. If the Jazz win out they go into the playoffs having earned it, and by going on a 5 game win streak. This is similar to that Portland Trail Blazers team from 1995-96 that did that and lost to the Jazz in 5 games in the first round.
Yeah, that's a funny thing to say, but that's what this Jazz team is like to me. That team won 5 of it's last 8 games to make the playoffs. If the Jazz run the table they would have won 5 of their last 7 games to make the playoffs. The similarities wouldn't end there either -- that Blazers squad was quite good at one thing and horrible at the other. (We're good on offense, bad on defense; they are the opposite). They were a strong rebounding team that got blocks and shared the ball. That's kind of us as well. That team was led by a bunch of non-All-Stars like Clifford Robinson, Rod Strickland, and Arvydas Sabonis. We're led by guys like Paul Millsap, Devin Harris, and Al Jefferson.
They were coached by P.J. Carlesimo (not Rick Adelman), were coached by Tyrone Corbin (not Jerry Sloan). It's not like we are even a shadow of our former greatness, and that Blazers team was nothing like the great Blazer teams of their past either.
The big difference, of course, is that those '95-96 Blazers DID go on a huge run to get into the playoffs. We're still in the chase and have three more games to go to determine if we will.
Game 3 of 5 of our pre-playoffs playoffs starts tonight.
What's going on with the Magic and Jazz after the jump.
What's going on with the Orlando Magic?
OH man, where to start? So . . . Orlando has won only 4 of their last 12 games. They are still #6 in the Eastern Conference despite this ridiculous slide. After the Jazz tonight they fly to play in Denver tomorrow, then finish the season with a game at home against the Bobcats, and then fly out the very next night to play in Memphis. Their remaining schedule isn't easy. And they've been sliding recently.
In their last 10 games their best players have been Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson, and J.J. Redick. That's not bad. It is bad when your best players in the previous 40 games are none of those guys. Right now they would love it if Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson got their stuff together. Hedo is supposed to miss a few more weeks with facial surgery (avoids easy joke). Ryan Anderson hasn't been that effective of late because people are paying him more attention. (Hey, things got hard for Dennis Scott when Shaq left too, buddy.)
The main problem is Dwight Howard, who is going to have lower back surgery (now!) and miss the remainder of the season.
I'm not going to touch the Dwight thing here; but this is still a team that is trying to win as many games as possible. It's just that not many games can possibly be won at this time of the year. Orlando is in a crappy situation, but that doesn't mean they are going to roll over tonight.
They can't afford to, they ARE ALREADY in the playoffs and this season is far from over for them. Tonight is a must win for Orlando. SO they are going to bring it.
What's going on with the Utah Jazz?
The Jazz are winning games. Different guys are stepping up every night. The team is playing together, as a team; and winning games together, as a team.
That's all that matters right now.
Devin Harris and Gordon Hayward are finally giving the long distance support our bigs craved all season long. We're somehow getting something from our bench. And Big Al and Paul keep doing their things on the inside.
If the Jazz want to be like those no-Star Blazers that made the playoffs they need to win tonight.
If they want to make the playoffs, they need to win.