The Downbeat #959 - Your Playoff Optimism is Not Shared

Owie, owie, owie. - Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Some looks at what's being said about the Jazz's playoff potential, and more.

In a recent post on The Point Forward blog on SI's NBA Page, Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney looked at the chances of some of the fringe playoff teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences to weigh in on who will likely make and miss the cuts, and more.

The spoke quite lengthily about the Jazz and both seemed to think that the Jazz were the team that was on the least solid ground to make the playoffs

1. Which current top-eight team is most vulnerable to miss the playoffs?

Ben Golliver

That leaves either Houston or Utah in the West. Perhaps I’m allowing recent performance to dictate this answer, but the Jazz seem to be on shakier ground than the Rockets, and not just because of their ugly home blowout loss to Houston last week. They expended more effort than they should have putting away the Blazers at home on Friday; they played a dreadfully flat game on Saturday in a loss in Portland; and then they barely escaped the Kings at home in overtime on Monday, even thoughSacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins was ejected at halftime.

Rob Mahoney

And as Ben noted, that brings us to a toss-up between the Jazz and Rockets, with Utah being slightly more vulnerable. The makeshift point guard rotation of Jamaal Tinsley, Earl Watson and Randy Foye just hasn’t been all that kind to the Jazz, and the familiar defensive struggles that come with relying on Jefferson have proved costly. Plus, for a team that’s so focused on its big men, you’d think that the Jazz would be a better rebounding team, but Utah ranks 23rd in defensive-rebounding rate.

Not exactly glowing reviews of this Jazz team, thus far. Of course, things could turn around drastically having Hayward back in the lineup, but I think that Mo remains a question mark as to his health and effectiveness for the remainder of the season.

Follow the link above and go read the rest of the post. It is very good, but raises some tough questions about this Jazz team, even exploring the possibility that they get passed up by the Lakers.

One thing that I have found difficult to quantify is how much the Jazz have missed either Mo or Hayward, and which loss has been the greater impact. For one thing, Hayward has only missed 5 games, and for another its difficult to find a good source for the stats that may be able to help give a clear picture. Looking purely at the basic stats, win %, FG%, 3P%, FT%, etc, there is not a noticeable change from when Mo went down, and then when GH also started sitting out.

This may be a job for someone better skilled at manipulating the various resources for stats.

Further, why has Gordon not been on the Jazz bench? I think its because his suit game is non-existent. If you see this, hit me up G-Time.

Speaking of playoffs, here's some more ideas on where sports writers stand on the Jazz:

ESPN's Playoff Odds: The Jazz drop below the Lakers with a predicted likelihood of 41.4%

Power Rankings:

Hollinger: #19

Stein: #15

NBA.com (John Schuhmann): #14

CBS Sports (Matt Moore): #15

Need I continue? Didn't think so. Lets just hope they're underachieving due to injury.

Tonight the Bucks roll into town after a frustrating loss in Denver, wherein they blew a 15 point halftime lead and saw their emerging defensive big-man-god LARRY SANDERS! (s/o Zach Lowe) suffer a back injury while trying to defend a drive by Kenneth Faried. Keep checking here at SLC Dunk or over at our Buck's counterparts Brew Hoop for updates on this potential game changing injury.

Why such a big deal? Sanders has emerged as a premier big man, paint defender, extraordinaire this season. He is averaging a career high and league-leading 3.2 blocks this season, has a Defensive Rating of just 96 PPP, and 2.5 Defensive Win Shares. For comparison, Derrick Favors is regarded by most as the Jazz best defender and his stats are such: 1.4 blocks, DRTG 102 PPP, and contributes 1.3 Defensive Win Shares, in about 3 minutes less per game.

**Disclaimer** These defensive stats are largely team based, and the Bucks are a MUCH BETTER defensive team.

Finally, with my impending move to San Francisco, I was thinking about the prospect of seeing a game at Oracle Arena in the biggity, biggity, Oakland. This then lead to the thought of how amazing it would be to go on a tour and see a game in every arena. If you had to pick one place to see an away game where would it be and why?

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