I hate the term "the biggest game of the season". Having said that, tonight's game against the Nuggets could be a big one. The Jazz come into the game tied for the second longest active win streak in the league, but the Nuggets have been one of the hottest team in the league in the final stretch and are a game and a half in front of the Clippers for the 3rd seed. You can bet they want to keep that 3rd seed every bit as much as the Jazz want to make it in to the post season.
Tonight will be an excellent test to see if this Jazz team has finally figured some things out, or if they've just been beating up on injured or inferior teams. Check back later for the game preview and open thread. If you're going to the game, I'm envious of you.
There was a little bit of pigeonholing going on yesterday, so I want to address something. Here at SLC Dunk, we are not some sort of Borg hive mind. I don't agree with everything Amar or Diana say. I don't agree with the all the opinions Clark or Andy have. I think Yucca and Shums are bat___ crazy (j/k guys). Some of us think the team would be better off with a higher draft pick this year. I do not. Not even close. If we want to build a team that can win its going to take experience at the level at which the playoffs are played. Players that learn what it takes to win in the playoffs have a better understanding of the level that will win most games in the regular season. I don't care if its a four game sweep at the hands of the Spurs. Failure is still experience. Some would say, the best kind of experience. These young players aren't a bunch of sniveling kids that will quit the first time they suffer a setback. If they were, they wouldn't be in the NBA. These are motivated young guys that will (if they're worth their mettle), pick themselves up, learn from their mistakes, and work their asses off to improve upon the previous season.
In fact, the case to lose out makes no sense to me at all. If the Jazz plan on building a winning team through the draft, its not going to be done through a collection of picks in the 12-16 range. They are going to have to spend the money they have this offseason wisely. Take on bad contracts, trade a known quantity, and have some luck. I'm not going to say this is a bad draft year, as you may have heard, because people said the same thing about the 2010 draft and it has yielded some fantastic players. However, there are no Lebron's in this draft and that's what it takes to win in it all in this NBA.
Oh, speaking of playoffs, Ben Golliver of SI's Point Forward Blog posted a fantastic breakdown of the playoff race between the Jazz, Lakers, and Mavs. It was posted on Monday, so it doesn't include the Mavs / Lakers game last night. It is very close to Andy's breakdown, which was posted in Monday's DB, but with more graphs. Take a look and you might feel better about #playoffpush (if you're into that sort of thing).
Update on Puppy Watch: Favors has named his new puppy Gotti. I guess a nod to the brutal mob boss John Gotti. I must say that I am deeply saddened that my suggested name wasn't chosen: Officer Puppy.
Puppy Watch led to this pretty hilarious exchange last night: