Man, we really didn't do a great job here at the dunk in the last few weeks. Well, by we I mean me. Everyone else has been doing great. I guess if I'm the defacto first option here I'm not pulling my weight. Expect a lot of content from me this week.
Looking back in the archives we didn't even do a Week 1 review -- but to be fair, I was in Canada back then. And Igloo Internet isn't that reliable. Well, the Jazz beat the Minnesota Timberwolves and spoiled Andrei Kirilenko 's return. (Andrei Highlights here, via @ProdigalJF) Then the Jazz beat the Phoenix Suns in their gym, then got blasted by the Denver Nuggets on the road by 20 again. Crap. Moving onto the next week we had no clue which Jazz team would show up on the road trip.
The answer was, of course, both the good and bad Jazz teams showed up -- sometimes in the same game.
January Week 2:
- Monday, January 7th: Dallas Mavericks @ Utah Jazz -- Jazz won 100-94
- Wednesday, January 9th: Utah Jazz @ Charlotte Bobcats -- Jazz won 112-102
- Friday, January 11th: Utah Jazz @ Atlanta Hawks -- Jazz lost 103-95
- Saturday, January 12th: Utah Jazz @ Detroit Pistons -- Jazz won 90-87
The Dallas game was rough and tumble, as is the norm for these games. It was physical, and our younger players stood up to the physicality and stood up for themselves. It was a game that showed both growth and capability in the face of the Jazz playing without Mo Williams. Marvin Williams also got injured in this game -- yet we prevailed. We were accused of "thugging it up", which in my mind takes me back to the crazy Pierce Brosnan period piece about the Thugge Cult in India. (No, really, don't watch this movie trailer.) Utah then went on their road trip, three games in four nights -- and absolutely steam rolled the Bobcats. The game's final score only looks so close because the Bobcats went on like a 14-2 run against Jeremy Evans and Kevin Murphy at the end. The Jazz had a night off and followed up their 2 game win streak with one of the most disappointing losses of the season. Up by 15 with minutes to go in the third quarter the Jazz had no answer to the Hawks big lineup of Al Horford, Ivan Johnson, and Josh Smith (at the three). Lots of people were upset with this game -- more upset than they were for losing to the Nuggets again in another blowout. To finish up the trip the Jazz came to the motor city and looked like they were in the driver's seat for the majority of the second half. Some curious calls and poor defending contributed to a nail biting ending. Utah almost lost that game -- but luckily squeaked away with the victory.
It was a 3-1 week, with a 2-1 road trip. The Jazz had a chance to go 4-0; but I honestly would not have predicted that. I don't think I would have predicted a 3-1 week either. But here we are, and I'm happy our guys did it.
January Week 3:
- Monday, January 14th: Miami Heat @ Utah Jazz
- Saturday, January 19th: Cleveland Cavaliers @ Utah Jazz
Only two games this week, and the safe route would be to predict a 1-1 showing. Both games are at home, and the Jazz are playing better basketball. Marvin Williams may return to action tonight, so we'll only be without Mo Williams. Utah has won 5 of their last 7, but only 2 of their last 5 at home. The Heat are on a six game road trip (@ Indiana, @ Portland, @ Sacramento, @ Utah, @ Golden State, @ Los Angeles Lakers), and so far are 1-2. Tonight's game will be their fourth, and their first game where cumulative fatigue could be an issue. They play the Jazz tonight, then have a night off, and then face GSW and LAL in a back to back set. So this is the first game in a three games in four nights sequence for them. It really may not mean anything though, as the Heat killed the Kings 128-99, and look to dominate the next three games and return to Miami without picking up anymore losses. Shane Battier has a straight right hamstring, and is doubtful for tonight's game. Aside from that, they are in full health and playing a very effective brand of basketball as LeBron James assumes control as a point power forward.
The Cavaliers will get the benefit of facing the Jazz after some time off. I haven't looked into it, but it appears as though the Jazz have never won a game after having 3 nights off before lacing them up. That's just how I feel though. Cleveland is playing better right now as well, but will be playing without Anderson Varejao. Kyrie Irving is still amazing and it will be the return game for C.J. Miles. I hope he gets a nice reaction from the crowd, he did not play here as long as AK-47 did -- but was still an engaging and popular player on a number of successful Jazz teams.
I'm going to predict the Jazz go 1-1 here, so I'm taking the safe route. I think we're going to really look good by the end of February. A big part of that is playing 15 of the next 20 at home. All of that starts with tonight's game hosting the Heat.