The Utah Jazz have a pretty brutal March schedule. It was brutal before the lockout, and somehow got worse after we got a condensed schedule. Surprisingly, the Jazz started the month off with a split between the Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks. I never expected the Jazz to win one of those games, let alone have a chance (slim as it was) to win both. I love our franchise, but often enough I fail to explain that I also love this 2011-2012 team. I do. The Jazz still face four more games in the next week; and I think they could win more games than I previously expected.
Let’s go a little deeper into this Road Trip.
Game 2 of the Road Trip: March 5th at the Cleveland Cavaliers (13-22):
The Cleveland Cavaliers had the #1 and #4 draft picks in the last NBA Draft. And with it they picked Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson. Having just won the lotto, bigtime, and in no immediate threat to challenge the Top 8 in the Eastern Conference, this has been a learning season for the team. Yes, right now they are 4 games out of the playoffs and there are still plenty of games remaining – but I don’t expect them to make the playoffs, and I do not think they do either. Kyrie Irving is playing 31.0 mpg this season, and Tristan Thompson playing 19.5 mpg. I expected Thompson to be getting more burn but he’s not. I don’t know when the Cavs will flip the switch into full-tank mode – but I can be certain that they do not want to BEAT the Jazz. This is going to be a hard game to lose I think. Especially since the Cavs have lost five in a row – even losing to the Washington Wizards and New Orleans Hornets (and we’re the only team that can lose to those teams while trying to win).
If the Jazz beat the Miami Heat and lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers in short succession I will laugh. This is probably going to be a win, even though we can’t stop point guards and Antawn Jamison always eats us for lunch.
Game 3 of the Road Trip: March 7th at the Charlotte Bobcats (4-31):
The Bobcats just got 57 from Deron Williams, as he led his New Jersey Nets team to victory. The Bobcats are a very bad team. If we lose to this team I will have to laugh. If we lose to the Cavs and the Cats in the same week I will cry.
I don’t really need to go too deep into this, they have 4 wins this year. They are super-duper tanking.
Game 4 of the Road Trip: March 9th at the Philadelphia 7ers (22-15):
This get a lot harder in the last two games of the road trip. Philly plays great team defense, and everyone was absolutely gushing about them early on – despite losing to a Utah Jazz club that didn’t even have Al Jefferson in the lineup. They have the best defense in the entire NBA, and our offense has been sputtering of late. (You know, if you look beyond the 4th quarter of the last game we played, where we dropped 40 on the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks on their home floor) I felt like this would be "just one of those games" where a Louis Williams or Jrue Holiday (or even a Jodie Meeks) would just end up dropping 26 points on our heads while we pre-occupy ourselves with Andre Iguodala (who is only averaging 12.5 ppg this season).
This may just be trivia, but former S.W.A.R.M. member Francisco Elson played 5 games for the Sixers this year! Go Frank! I’m expecting the Jazz to lose this game. IF the Jazz beat the Heat, lose to the Cavs and Cats, and then beat the Sixers I am going to shave my head.
Game 5 of the Road Trip: March 10th at the Chicago Bulls (30-8):
So the last game of our 5 game road trip just has to be a game against the team with the best record in the NBA. Chicago has Derrick Rose, last year’s MVP. They also have a ton of other guys who know their place on defense (everyone not named Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver I mean), they have the second best defense in the league this season. Oh yeah, and this is the 2nd game of a back to back set. And it’s also the 3rd game in four nights. And the 6th game in nine nights.
If we beat the Heat, lose to the Cavs, lose to the Cats, beat the Sixers, and then beat the Bulls I am going to wear women’s clothes for a week.
We should lose this game though, so I should be safe.
Grumpy Old Man Amar felt like we’d go 2-4 on the first two weeks of March. We’ve already won one game, and still had four games against the East to factor in. I was wrong, and I admit it. But to be fair, I do not think a lot of people were counting on a Jazz win against the Miami Heat. If the Jazz finish the first two weeks with 3 wins total I’ll be very happy. If they do not, and somehow manage to drop three of the next four I’m not going to be despondent either.
I don’t believe our team can play great basketball consistently yet. They have a lot of new parts, and that’s only natural.
Jazz return to Utah going 3-3 in the last six games. Write it down. Seal the envelope. Mail it to Jerry Sloan. I’m not one to make predictions, but I’m not feeling bad about my team on this trip. (No, it’s the trip at the end of the month that’s the one to worry about . . .)