The operation has ended, the last few battles were victories . . . yet the war has not been won. We’re Jazz fans, loyal to the core, and while our team was dealt a number of blows this season, we have a strong foundation to build upon.
We finished the season on an upswing, managing to scrape out a winning home record, but also a negative average points differential. Further review is necessary to see what went right and what went wrong so that the next Operation 82 is more successful than this one was in 2010-2011. As always, former Operation 82 previews: October, November, December, January, February, March, and April.
Last Month Review:
I felt like the Jazz would win three games this last month – and they did. They beat the Los Angeles Lakers (on the road!!!), and the New Orleans Hornets (also on the road), and took care of business last night against the Denver Nuggets at home. While the Jazz were unable to tank correctly, they did manage three wins in the last five games in order to win the sentimental ‘feel good’ games that sucker us into always supporting this team. (If that’s the case, the last few ‘feel good’ games by guys with expiring contracts should also make those players feel like they’re coming back – if sentimentality reigns supreme here)
The Jazz were riddled with injuries all season long, and this last month was no different. Too many guys finished the season in suits and the last two games we won were against teams that were similarly not at full strength. That should not fully diminish our victories; however, the Lakers victory was one of the few true victories (expelling the demons on their own court) of the season.
The Jazz lost to the Sacramento Kings on April 3rd, but beat the New Orleans Hornets (April 11th) and Denver Nuggets (April 13th). So the Jazz went 2-1 in ‘Big Games’ this month. For the season, by my count, the Jazz ended up going 20-24 in big games this year – which is not half bad. It’s clearly not half good though (45%). More telling would be how the Jazz went 21-31 (40%) against other teams in our conference; and only 7-9 (44%) in our division. If we want to ascend to the top of our division again we’re going to actually have to beat some of the teams on the Utah side of the Rocky Mountains sometime.
A very quick statement about the end of this season:
Perhaps, in the true sense of closure and Eastern philosophical thought, it was only fitting that the Jazz started and ended the season against Northwest Division rivals, the Denver Nuggets. What was once opened is now closed. This season is at an end, and we now move onto the next – this circular revolution now complete and the cosmos satisfied. The passing of our great coaches leaves space, resources, and time to allow new plants to grow strong and vibrant. The removal of negative forces from the locker room allows for peace and harmony to flourish. The burden of Andrei Kirilenko’s contract (which he told Larry H. Miller (pbuh) he’d gladly renegotiate but the NBA players association would not allow Larry to change two player’s contracts in the same off-season – and he was forced to decided to let Fisher out of his at the expense of keeping Andrei at his) no longer constrains our financial flexibility. This is a new day for our Utah Jazz – a breath of fresh air for the franchise; and not just because Kyrylo Fesenko is cleaning out his locker, one rife with hidden secret odors from a time long, long ago. This was truly a season in transition – but expecting another 50 win romp after a 6 player change from last off-season was highly idealistic and perhaps a little naive. Without our top players from the last incarnation of the Jazz as contenders (Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer), and now bereft of Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson on the bench, the Jazz are without familiarity – but also without the high expectations.
Now mistakes can happen, all the while working towards the greater goal. Under the last era the margin of error became too small. And in crunch time the game could only be decided by the actions of one guy. (Partly due to injuries) In the last few games we’ve seen clutch play on offense *and* defense from a number of new faces. I think we can be a stronger team, at the expense of having less marketable stars. I’m optimistic right now for our team; a small, but brave, sapling that dares to grow in the aftermath of a terrible storm that devastates a once proud forest.
I predict that the Jazz will finish the NBA Lottery with two draft picks, and not trade either of them, even though this draft appears to be shallower than some of the people you know on Facebook.