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The Downbeat - 12 April 2010 - #205 - The Final Montag Of The Regular Season Edition

1_medium You would rather have the seeding sewn up right now but if you're a fan of late-season, meaningful basketball, then you're in luck this week.

For Jazz fans, there were a couple of bad days last week but a lot of the games over the weekend went about as well as you could hope for.

First, the news that we do know.  The Jazz won't be fighting to stay out of the eight spot like they were last year.  Portland, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City are all tied.  Portland is in a spot of trouble because they lost Roy to an injury in the Lakers game which could end up now being their first-round opponent.  The Thunder did themselves no favors by blowing a 20-point lead at Golden State.  And the Spurs had a huge win in Denver on Saturday, thank you very much for that.  Those teams are three games back with two remaining so the worst the Jazz can do now is the five.

So then you have the Mavericks, Nuggets, Jazz, and Suns all gunning for that two or three seed.  Dallas is a game up on everyone.  So let's take a quick look at the remaining games.

Dallas, @LAC, SAS.  The Mavs have beaten the Clippers handily both times they've played them this season.  I've seen crazier, but Dallas should win this one.  They've beaten the Spurs in 2 of 3 games so far this season with one of those being an OT win.  That's the last game of the season for both teams and will determine both teams' playoff seedings.

Denver, MEM, @PHX.  Their season ends a day earlier than most as they host the Grizzlies tonight and then head to Phoenix for a huge matchup for all parties.  The good news is that they're playing the Suns on the back end of a back to back. 

They've beaten the Grizz twice pretty convincingly with the one loss on the road.  However, they've lost to Phoenix twice this season including a home loss.

So Denver should win tonight and then would need to lose @ Phoenix for the Jazz to move up.

Utah, @GSW, PHX.  Golden State still has a chance to pull a 2009-level loss on the Jazz.  They put the hurt on the Thunder's chances of moving up from the 8 spot and will be looking to do some more spoiling against the Jazz.  Then we're at home the next night to face the Suns who will have just played the Nuggets the night before.

Phoenix, DEN, @UTA.  Back to back brutal games for the Suns who had to hit some late threes late yesterday to pull away from the Rockets.  As mentioned above, the Suns have beaten the Nuggets twice but have fallen twice against the Jazz.  In both of those games, as you recall, the Jazz came back from huge deficits to win those.

What's great is that none of these teams will be resting starters or taking a night off.  If you're the NBA, you couldn't have asked for a better script, and who's to say that they haven't scripted it?  The Jazz and Suns will play the last game of the last night of the regular season and it's highly likely that it will be for the two-seed.  Then again, if the Nuggets win out and Dallas wins out, there's a chance that Jazz/Suns game will be just a nightcap that means nothing.

If you're a Jazz fan though, you hope it means something.

  One last look at the Knicks pick.  New York is tied for the 8th-worst record in the league with the Clippers.  They've beaten the Clippers twice so that means that for NY to finish lower than LA, they have to finish with one more loss.

They host Washington tonight before heading to Toronto.  They've beaten Washington 2 of 3 games with one of those an OT win.  They've also lost to the Raptors all three times they've met this season.  However, that was before Toronto lost Chris Bosh.  So it's very likely that they could win out and we would have the 9th spot in the lotto.

They still have a chance at passing Philly and Detroit but not likely.

Short of trading up or winning the lotto, look forward to David Stern saying, "With the 9th pick in the 2010 NBA draft, the Utah Jazz select..."

  Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated is doling out his All-NBA team picks and puts Deron on the second team,

With his terrific all-around season, Deron Williams has Utah in contention for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.

Dwyane Wade gets his top guard spot alongside Kobe Bryant.  However, if he's using this as the reason for putting him on the 1st team, that's pretty weak,

Dwyane Wade not only is posting his usual big numbers, but he's also part of a Heat team that is vying with Orlando and Cleveland to be the league's top field-goal defense.

Hey!  Look at that!  Top field-goal defense!  Wade is definitely deserving but he was reaching for a team stat there when they're not really a contender.

Deron is likely going to get the second-team though.  Kobe will get one guard spot and then it will be between Nash, Deron, and Wade for the other.  A post coming on this later.

  Greg Miller addressed the question about the team playing on Sundays at home.  He stated that it didn't make financial sense which is what I assumed was the case.  Here's the full response,

It is a business decision to not play home games on Sunday. We believe it would be very difficult to draw 19,911 fans to EnergySolutions Arena for a regular season Sunday game, based on past experiences we have had with Sunday home games during the NBA Playoffs. About the only way it would work was if the opponent were the Lakers, LeBron, or the Celtics.

The Salt Lake Bees play between 10 -12 Sunday home games each season, and our experience there has shown that Sunday attendance is about 50% less than other days of the week. Sundays are also slow for our Megaplex Theatres.

While I think attendance would be down, I don't think he should compare attending a Jazz game to attending a Bees game or a Sunday afternoon movie. 

First, you'll have the season ticket sales regardless.  Second, the Jazz are the Jazz.  Basketball is much, much bigger than triple-A baseball.  Movies shouldn't even be in the discussion when comparing things.

While it would be harder to fill those extra seats, there are demographics that the Jazz could go after to sell those tickets.  If there were only one a month or so like Deron mentioned, then that's 5-6 games a season.  It would be a challenge to get to a sell-out status, but it could be close.  You might have one or two of those games against one of the bigger teams in the league like Greg mentioned.

Really, would they be any different than a Tuesday--night home game against the Nets?  It couldn't be worse attendance-wise.

So while I think it could be doable, I understand that it's the owner's personal religious reasons for not wanting Sunday home games.  There's not problem with that at all, but that is the biggest reason why.

It's that time of the year again.  Time for award discussions.  You know what that means: a whole slew of "Can you believe that Jerry Sloan has never won COY" articles.  It seems that the majority of those awards go to one-shot-wonder coaches who took a team that missed the playoffs the previous year to the playoffs or to the coach with the best record in the NBA.  Both are deserving. 

So what about the coach that averages 50+ wins over his career?  What about the coach that can't win it despite having one of the top records in the league?  What about the coach that takes a team that wasn't suppose to win 10 games after losing two HOFers and gets them to within one game of a playoff spot?

If Sloan hasn't won it by now, he's not going to win it.  We're not going to have a team that's in the bottom of the league for a while (hopefully) which negates the turnaround vote.  We could have a team that is one of the top W/L teams in the league but at this point, the Jazz would have to be steamrolling teams and win 60+ games.  He might get a few votes then.

At this point, I'm fine with it, as Jerry has been for years.