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The Downbeat - 10 August 2010 - #290 - The Oasis Edition

As with every desert of an off-season, today's schedule release is a welcome oasis. Of course we'll be looking for things such as when the Bulls come to town, the Heat. How many back to backs, the two east coast swings, etc.

It will be interesting to see the schedules of the other teams in the NW to see who can get off the better start.

Two years ago the schedule to close out the season was brutal. Last year's wasn't too bad on paper but didn't turn out as well as you would have liked. We're likely not going to be playing a basement team to finish out this season. It will be against another WC team with seeding likely on the line once again.

Speaking of seeding, what is it going to take to get above the 4 or 5 seed this season? Here are the team's seedings for the past decade,

2010, 5
2009, 8
2008, 4
2007, 4
2003, 7
2002, 8
2001, 4 (Home court)

We did have home court back in 2007 in the second round against the Warriors, but other than that, you have to go back to 2001 to when we had home-court in the playoffs. That series didn't turn out very well though.

It's just been a loss here or there that has cost the team a higher seed and playing in a different bracket. We've seen the typical Jazz seasons where they get off to an okay start, drag through December, rip off a run of wins in January and February and then struggle at the end.

That's why I would like the schedule to be relatively easy to begin the season because my biggest fear is that the team won't be clicking out of the gate.

ESPN will have their forecasted standings of the West out sometime later today. Here's my abbreviated version. The biggest thing with the West is that there are so many unknowns right now, primarily health. You look at all of the teams that made it last season and then look at teams like Houston, Memphis, and the Clippers who should be better this season. But if one of those three make it, who gets knocked out from last season's playoff teams?

Houston has the best shot of making it but how many games will Yao play? Who then drops out? Phoenix? San Antonio? Utah? It's not going to be someone dropping out it's going to simply be one of those lower teams taking the playoff spot because I don't see how those teams drop off that much. In the west though, a one-game drop could mean being out of the playoffs.

Without much research, and in the west it doesn't help anyway, here's my predicted playoff teams,

1. Lakers
2. Thunder
3. Utah
4. Dallas
5. Portland
6. San Antonio
7. Denver
8. Houston

This to me sums up Karl Malone's career,

The first MVP came at age 33 and in his 12th season, when most players are long past their prime, and the second at age 35 and in the 14th season. And then he logged five more seasons after that, four while averaging at least 20 points and 7.8 rebounds.

We all know about him improving his FT% (which is also covered in that article) and adding a jumper late in his career.

His career arc in analogous to his trademark running of the fast break. He starts out slow but slowly builds up steam until he becomes a runaway controlled freight train. He was one of the few players that continued to get better and still challenge himself to do more than what he was doing already.

Tuesday poll,