The playoff teams in the west are pretty much set right now. You have LA, Dallas, Denver, Utah, Pheonix, OKC, SA, and Portland.
While a lot can still happen, Memphis, New Orleans, and Houston are at least 4 games out with just over 20 games left to play. That's a big climb for each of those teams. And if you look at their point differential, they all have negative values while all of the playoff teams have at least a +3.
So what's left is just playoff positioning. Obviously the Jazz, and other teams, want to avoid the Lakers until they get to the WCF. So that means playing as either the 2, 3, 6, or 7 seeds. We know what happens when you're the eighth seed. Obviously the 2 or 3 seed is where the Jazz want to be given that you have home-court and also avoid the Lakers in the second round.
So what kind of finish do the Jazz need to get one of those spots? If they're going to overtake a team, it will be Denver. Dallas' schedule is relatively easy for the rest of the season.
Denver on the other hand, had a tough road trip to finish out the month of March. They're @ NY, Boston, Orlando, Toronto, and Dallas. The problem is that they've shown they can beat pretty much any team in the league. But if they're going to trip, that's when it will be.
The Jazz on the other hand are @ Toronto, Indiana, and Washington before returning home to play the Knicks and Warriors. This could be when we see the Jazz pass the Nuggets.
Phoenix will play a big part in our playoff destiny. They host the Nuggets on April 13th and then fly out to Utah the next day for the last game of the season. I'm guessing there's going to still be something on the line with that one.
The only downside to being the 2 or 3 seed is that you have to play SA, OKC, or Portland. Those teams scare me.
I know Jerry is rolling over in his grave when the Jazz start shooting threes, but maybe he should be more open to it. The Jazz are 15-3 when they make at least 7 three pointers a game. When they're shooting the three well, they're playing well. They're shooting nearly 46% from the arc when that happens, so they're not just jacking up 30 a game. If they make 8 a game, they're 10-1.
When you just look at attempts, they're 20-9 when they take at least 15 three-pointers a game. So Sloan is right, as long as you're making them, that's fine.
Of course, having Memo being able to hit the three again is nice.
I'm sure someone keeps track of this, but I couldn't find anything on it. They have starting lineups, but does anyone keep track of the lineups used to close out the games?
It sure seems like the Jazz have used a different closing lineup each game of the season. It's mainly a rotation on the wing players, but outside of Deron, it could be anyone out there. I'd like to have someone pick Sloan's brain on the subject to see how he determines who's going to be on the floor in the closing minutes. If it match-ups? Whoever is hot? Who's playing D? Whatever formula he's using, it's working. Now if he could just work the same magic with starting lineups.
I still need to see Memo do what he did last night for at least 4 out of the next 6 or 7 games or so before I'm a believer again. But if he gets back on track, man, that would be huge.
Since I haven't talked about LOST for a bit, I'd like to see the Jazz marketing team do a big budget playoff commercial based on the final scene of Tuesday's episode. This really isn't too big of a spoiler, but just in case, here's my idea after the jump. Just click on comments if you want to still comment and yet bypass the final DB.
When MiB and the others are walking through the courtyard of carnage and out of the temple after the smoke monster laid waste to the others, it gave me chills, the bad kind. Just eerie. I would love to see bodies on the ground with opponents laying on the ground as they make their way out of the opponents building and waiting outside is Deron. Just a slow-motion walk while some old song is playing in the background. Awesome.
They can afford it after the money they saved on the Maynor and Brewer trades, right?