...First-round playoff win.
I debated about including this one for a bit. After all, should we celebrate a first-round victory when the ultimate goal is to win a championship? Given the way the Jazz closed out the season, it kind of felt anti-climactic at the time. There wasn't much difference between the 3-seed and the 5. To have to go on the road again to start the playoffs was not an improvement.
Of course, because you're reading this, you know I ultimately chose yes. There are a few reasons why the upset over the Nuggets was a top story of 2010:
- The Nuggets are one of, if not the, biggest rival team for the Jazz. Denver beat the Jazz soundly during the regular season, 3 games to 1. As a result, the Jazz lost home-court advantage in the first round when the two teams ended up with identical 53-29 records. So to be able to take 4 of 6 from the Nuggets vindicated the regular season failure in a way.
- It was a huge series win given that the Jazz were underdogs even before Memo went down with his Achilles injury in game 1. Memo's popping his Achilles is what I first wanted to do for one of the top ten stories of the year. It was, but it was part of something bigger, and that was the team's series win over the Nuggets.
Had Memo not gone down, the Jazz could have won a game or two in the next series against the Lakers but ultimately I think they still would have dropped that series regardless. That's why I wanted to focus on this one.
"Fesenko? Fesenko? Don't get me wrong. He is a great player. He's playing with a lot of confidence, but … Fesenko?"
That was after game 4 and a 3-1 series lead for the Jazz. Fess made 4-7 from the line that night. Fess stepped in and played admirably for Memo. His play in games 3 and 4 helped get the series win.
- The rise of Deron Williams. Deron was the best player in that series for the Jazz putting up 25.8 & 11 in those 6 games. He always seems to keep kicking things up a notch. His play in the playoffs appears to have spilled over into this year.
For as much as an All-star cane break out, we saw that with Deron Williams in the playoffs last season.