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Big Game Experience - The Downbeat #1883

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DB #1883, or approximately the number of free throws the Jazz missed last night.

The Jazz are the worst. Everything is awful. They will not make the playoffs. It's time to blow it up.

Everyone feel better? Tony Jones of the SL Tribune does a wonderful job of summing things up with this lede:

The missed free-throws. The indecision down the stretch. The muddied overtime where nothing seemed to go right.

The Utah Jazz are playing the "what if" game on the heels of a 103-96 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night. If any of the above had gone right, the sellout crowd at Vivint Smart Home Arena would've gone home in a festive mood.

The Jazz played the entire 4th quarter to not lose. Questionable isolation offense to burn the clock with 2+ minutes left, paired with scrambling, frantic defense, and the outcome started to become apparent. By the time the last free throw of the 4th quarter clanged off the iron, the OT defeat was inevitable.

Having gotten the pessimism out of the way, the Jazz used some defensive schemes last night that were absolutely brilliant. Snyder used the size of his squad to stifle the Warriors that few teams have been able to accomplish all season. Rudy used his size to control the paint and limit easy scoring opportunities. The Jazz used switching on any Steph Curry pick and roll to either push him off the three point line, and into the paint (and Rudy), or force a contested shot against a much taller defender (usually Hood or Hayward).

From ESPN.com:

The Jazz are one of only two teams (along with the Clippers) to have the lead against the Warriors in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter twice this season.

That's not nothing.

More from Rob Mahoney of SI.com:

Relatively basic passes out of pick-and-roll pressure were complicated by the invasive length of Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who made as positive an imprint on this game as a traditional center could. Golden State spent long stretches of the game searching for easy shots that never materialized. Everything the Warriors did was pressured, crowded and rushed, down to the very shots that ultimately gave the defending champions the lead for good. Golden State, which outlasted Utah to win 103–96 in overtime on Wednesday, was simply better equipped to handle contested, complicated basketball than its opponent.

This is why the playoffs are so important for the Jazz this season. The Warriors core made their first playoff appearance 4 years ago (40 playoff games), giving them invaluable experience for games like last night's.

After the loss last night, the Jazz sit in a 3 way tie (record-wise) with Houston and Dallas (who managed to eek out a close win against the Knicks... at home), and fall 2 games back of the Trailblazers.

Let's look at the remaining schedule for the Jazz:

G Date H/A Opponent W/L
76 Fri Apr 1 2016 Minnesota Timberwolves W
77 Sun Apr 3 2016 @ Phoenix Suns W
78 Tue Apr 5 2016 San Antonio Spurs L
79 Fri Apr 8 2016 Los Angeles Clippers L
80 Sun Apr 10 2016 @ Denver Nuggets L
81 Mon Apr 11 2016 Dallas Mavericks W
82 Wed Apr 13 2016 @ Los Angeles Lakers W

The last column is probably an even assessment -- neither too optimistic or pessimistic. These results would put the Jazz at 41-41 (.500), and would result in a +3 game improvement from last season. Basketball-Reference.com has the Jazz expected W/L to be 41-41, and the 7th seed in the playoffs. This would put them up against the Spurs.

Questions: Is this accurate? Are you more optimistic? Pessimistic (Don't try and call yourself "realistic")? After last night, would you rather have the 7 or 8 seed? Do the Spurs rest players next week, hoping to help the Jazz into the 7th seed or beat them, hoping to force the Warriors into what will probably be a tougher series?

The playoff race in the bottom of the West is so crazy right now, it's almost impossible to predict. For example, taken the scenario above, the Jazz could actually finish as high as 6th.

How? The Grizzlies have been ravaged by injuries, and have been in a free-fall. They've lost 8 of their last 10 games and have an extremely difficult schedule:

G Date H/A Opponent W/L
76 Fri Apr 1 2016 Toronto Raptors
77 Sun Apr 3 2016 @ Orlando Magic
78 Tue Apr 5 2016 Chicago Bulls
79 Fri Apr 8 2016 @ Dallas Mavericks
80 Sat Apr 9 2016 Golden State Warriors
81 Tue Apr 12 2016 @ Los Angeles Clippers
82 Wed Apr 13 2016 @ Golden State Warriors

It's entirely possible that the Grizzlies lose out. In this case, the Jazz would end above Memphis in the playoff seeding, because they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker in the season series (2-1). This scenario would match the Jazz up with the Thunder... is that better?

Of course, all of the above is dependent on one major event -- a minor injury.

Immediately after the loss, things seemed to be ok. From Tony Jones, again:

Per the Jazz, the power forward will be re-evaluated on Thursday. Favors did tell the media he was fine in the moments following the loss.