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Utah Jazz Australia Day - The Downbeat #1533

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Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Did you realize that the Spurs game was the halfway point for the Jazz season? Tonight's game against the Celtics is game 45. Two weeks ago I wrote about the State of the Utah Jazz and we took a look at their schedule up to that point. Admittedly, it was a little premature, but let's look at what has transpired in that time:

G Date H/A Opponent W/L Actual result
39 Tue Jan 13 2015 Golden State Warriors L L
40 Fri Jan 16 2015 Los Angeles Lakers W W
41 Sun Jan 18 2015 @ San Antonio Spurs L L
42 Wed Jan 21 2015 @ Cleveland Cavaliers L L
43 Thu Jan 22 2015 @ Milwaukee Bucks L W
44 Sat Jan 24 2015 Brooklyn Nets W W
45 Mon Jan 26 2015 Boston Celtics W
46 Wed Jan 28 2015 Los Angeles Clippers L
47 Fri Jan 30 2015 Golden State Warriors L
48 Tue Feb 3 2015 @ Portland Trail Blazers L
49 Wed Feb 4 2015 Memphis Grizzlies L
50 Fri Feb 6 2015 @ Phoenix Suns L
51 Sat Feb 7 2015 Sacramento Kings W
52 Mon Feb 9 2015 @ New Orleans Pelicans L
53 Wed Feb 11 2015 @ Dallas Mavericks L
54 Fri Feb 20 2015 Portland Trail Blazers L
55 Mon Feb 23 2015 San Antonio Spurs L
56 Wed Feb 25 2015 Los Angeles Lakers W
57 Fri Feb 27 2015 @ Denver Nuggets L
58 Sat Feb 28 2015 Milwaukee Bucks W
59 Tue Mar 3 2015 @ Memphis Grizzlies L
60 Wed Mar 4 2015 @ Boston Celtics W
61 Fri Mar 6 2015 @ Philadelphia 76ers W
62 Sun Mar 8 2015 @ Brooklyn Nets L
63 Tue Mar 10 2015 New York Knicks W
64 Thu Mar 12 2015 Houston Rockets L
65 Sat Mar 14 2015 Detroit Pistons W
66 Mon Mar 16 2015 Charlotte Hornets W
67 Wed Mar 18 2015 Washington Wizards L
68 Thu Mar 19 2015 @ Los Angeles Lakers W
69 Sat Mar 21 2015 @ Golden State Warriors L
70 Mon Mar 23 2015 Minnesota Timberwolves W
71 Wed Mar 25 2015 Portland Trail Blazers L
72 Fri Mar 27 2015 @ Denver Nuggets L
73 Sat Mar 28 2015 Oklahoma City Thunder L
74 Mon Mar 30 2015 @ Minnesota Timberwolves W
75 Wed Apr 1 2015 Denver Nuggets W
76 Sat Apr 4 2015 @ Phoenix Suns L
77 Sun Apr 5 2015 @ Sacramento Kings L
78 Wed Apr 8 2015 Sacramento Kings W
79 Fri Apr 10 2015 Memphis Grizzlies L
80 Sat Apr 11 2015 @ Portland Trail Blazers L
81 Mon Apr 13 2015 Dallas Mavericks L
82 Wed Apr 15 2015 @ Houston Rockets L
16

The Jazz are one win above my predictions (many of you called the Bucks win in the comments). So far, so good.

One interesting thing to note, as it relates to wins/losses is the strength of schedule. Obviously there is a huge difference between SoS of WC teams, versus EC teams. If you recall, the Jazz had one of the toughest schedules for the first 2 months of the season (anywhere fro 2nd to 5th). Currently, they have the 12th toughest, according to Arturo Galleti (@ArturoGaletti) and our friends at BBall Breakdown. In his post titled The NBA Variable: Schedule Inequity, Arturo looks at schedules and how they affect the outcomes of some of the league's narratives, such as tanking teams, and more interestingly, the scrum to make the playoffs in the West. Click over and check it out, because it's very interesting.

As for the Jazz? Things are looking up. According to Arturo, the Jazz have a much easier remaining schedule. They drop to the 22nd toughest, which for a team the seems to be figuring things out as the season progresses, could mean exceeding even our predictions from 2 weeks ago.

On Friday, BBJ discussed Coach Q's decision to flip the PG roles of Exum and Burke. As BBJ said, it seemed to work on the road, against the Bucks, despite Burke's 4-11 shooting. Saturday's outing against the Nets saw the continuation of this lineup change, and the results were again encouraging.

The Jazz had their best offensive effort to date (albeit agains the terrible Nets, as the Jazz beat yet another EC playoff team). Trey caught the 3fg bug as he went 4/8 from deep and finished with 19 points on 13 shots. Danté also kept up his improved play going 5/7, including 3/5 3fg, and chipping in 4 assists and 4 boards. Not going to delve into the advanced stats for this game, because in such a lopsided win everything comes up sunshine and rainbows. We should see this same lineup against the Celtics tonight.

Maybe chalk it up to being young and therefore inconsistent, but after a miserable 2 games of three point shooting, the Jazz have been HOT the last two. They suffered a slump of 33% shooting against the Spurs and Cavs to bounce back for 45% over the last two. The bump in three point shooting also coincides with.... the change in PG lineup as stated above. Another thing to keep an eye on for as long as the lineups remain.

The Jazz currently shoot 34% from deep, which is good for 19th in the league, and that is a stat that is very surprising. If by some miracle the Jazz maintained the percentage they've had over the last four, despite the bad shooting for two of those games, they would be at 39%, which would tie them for best in the league with the Warriors. This is probably way out of the realm of possibility, but even a slight bump to 36% would put them at 10th.

Happy Australia Day to all of our Aussie Dunkers, and our two Jazz players from Down Under. When I was in the Navy I was in Townsville, QLD, Australia for Australia Day. It was a magical day of packed pubs, torrential downpours, and many Australians clad in nothing but speedos and Australia flags as capes, parading around the streets. It was a blast.

Cheers!

Australia