I think I've mentioned this before, but my wife and I have season tickets this year. Having gone to a few home games now (including preseason), there is a noticeable difference in the overall feel and energy in the crowd, compared to last season. Fans are enthusiastic about this team. The opener against the Rockets was loud. It was close to a playoff atmosphere and ESA felt like home again.
Besides the recharged fanbase, the Jazz have also done some really great things to improve the arena experience. The beer is still expensive as hell, but they have added some really nice little details:
- During stoppage time, they show tweets from fans using the official hashtag for the game. We've seen lots of tweets from Dunkers up there. It's awesome.
- They have added some new features on the jumbo screens. My favorite is the Oblivicam. They focus in on someone in the crowd (usually making some funny, disinterested face), then pan away as soon as the person becomes aware. It's hilarious.
- A big complaint last year was the huge screens not giving enough info. They've added more stat areas on the lower ring to show things like team fg%, 3fg%, fouls, to's, etc., and on the large screens in the upper corners, they now show scores from other games around the league, along with the boxscore.
They're little things, but they add up to make games so much fun to attend. Bravo Zulu, Jazz
Getting the first win under their belts should be huge for the Jazz. This team is going to continue to have the growing pains, both on the court, and on the bench. But last night there was a little bit more rhythm and stability from the players and coach. Q's wonky substitution patterns have evened out, and the players have calmed down, all of which culminated in a great game on Saturday.
Of course, it was also a home game. Which leads to a bigger point: This team is going to get the majority of their wins at home. This relates to the first part of this DB, too. The crowd is helping bring back that element that made SLC such a tough place to get wins. If this team reaches the aspirational 30+ wins, it will be from 20+ home wins.
One question that will continue to be nagged at, is that of having both Burke and Exum on the roster. During Summer League, it was stated that they would play together. This hasn't happened as much during the season, and with Burks the Lindsey backed "starting shooting guard," it will likely continue this way (barring an injury). What having both of them does do is take pressure off the young Australian. He not longer has the pressure to jump right into a starting role, and being able to bring him off the bench against what is usually inferior talent to starters, will help his confidence.
The Jazz seem to be very aware of his situation and are making decisions to ease his transition into the NBA. Sure, Joe Ingles is an okay player, but his presence on the team might have just as much to do with his relationship to Danté. Getting accustomed to the rigors of a full NBA season are enough, without the added difficulty that comes with being in a foreign culture (doubly so because of the extra quirks of Utah's culture).
When you have an energized and excited fanbase, higher expectations go hand-in-hand. The game at Dallas seemed to be particularly disheartening because everyones hopes came crashing down in a flurry of three-pointers and soft defense. Prospective is important and the biggest part of that is to remember that the season is still young. If the playoffs started today the Spurs would be out and the Kings would be in as the 5th seed.
As Amar mentioned on Friday, it's probably going to get worse... at least in the short term.
Here's some good reads from our friends on the beat:
Shootaround effort carries over for rookie Danté Exum (Aaron Falk, SL Trib)
Victory over Suns brightens mood, outlook for Jazz (Jody Genessy, Deseret News)
Booker is Jazz's quiet warrior (Tony Jones, SL Trib)
There's no doubt, Snyder has Gordon Hayward's back (Jim Burton, Standard Examiner)
Check back later today for the preview of Jazz/ Clippers. As a primer, here's Amar talking to our counterparts at Clips Nation