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Utah Jazz are struggling at home because of the ... #CurseOfTheBear???

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Is a mascot—fallen from grace—the reason the Jazz are cursed at home for the 2018-2019 NBA season?

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz - Game Four Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

*9:43PM Friday Night. Memphis Grizzlies just have defeated Utah again at home*

Mychal Lowman: Who’d be down for an “emergency” SLC Dunk Chat?

Kaleb Searle: The salt will be incredible. I’m here for it.

Diana: I am here

Mychal Lowman: Who else is in?

James Hansen: I can

Mychal Lowman: Okay, let’s do this. Let’s start this Friday #slcdunkchat with the most pressing question after a terrible loss to the Memphis Grizzlies … IS THERE A CURSE OF THE BEAR?

Kaleb Searle: I think more of us will buy into the curse of #TakeNote

Mychal Lowman: The Utah Jazz are 0-3 at home since they unceremoniously moved on from the Bear and took on the generic #TeamIsEverything over the amazing #TakeNote (copyright of SLC Dunk comment threads).

Diana: Absolutely there is a curse.

James Hansen: I think it’s more that the Jazz should start their best lineup

Diana: And yes. Go back to #takenote (copyright SLC Dunk)

Sam Goodrich: I’m painting #TakeNote on my forehead and never washing it until our next home win

Diana: I think they should learn how to defend

Mychal Lowman: Let’s talk about that. Is the Jazz’s defense worse this season or is this just eye test analysis at its worst?

Kaleb Searle: Teams are clearly seeing what works to take Rudy out of his game and they’re doing it. The perimeter defense could always be better, but I feel like Rudy is also being neutralized way more often.

Mychal Lowman: After tonight’s game the Utah Jazz have a defensive rating of 107.9. Good for average in the league (14th).

Diana: My feelings are strictly eye test. The defense is bad. I don’t know what has changed but they don’t have the urgency they had on that end last year. They don’t play with the chip on their shoulder, us against them mentality.

Mychal Lowman: He is being schemed against. I agree with Kaleb there. Remember that move by Rose the other night where he went in for the layup, stopped on a dime, and preyed on Rudy’s anticipation of the euro step? It’s like teams are actively working on moves to counter Rudy. He’s not just in their game plan, he’s now in their offseason.

James Hansen: Rudy will improve though. I’m much more worried about Favors.

Kaleb Searle: Should Favors be relegated to backup center? I love Favors, don’t get me wrong, but lineups with him at the 4 just are getting worked.

Mychal Lowman: Teams are shooting really well against Utah. Opponents average 47.1% from the field and 36.5% from three against Utah. Those put them at 20th and 18th in the league. Perimeter defense is porous to say the least.

Sam Goodrich: We can’t defend the way we used to with the new referee initiative to create space for players

We clog the lane as our main strategy, and we can’t do that any more

Diana: How are we going to improve our perimeter defense?

I hate the freedom of movement

James Hansen: The Grizzlies shot over 50% from three. I thought that maybe with less weight on his body Favors would be able to handle the perimeter this season but tonight, and throughout the season, any time he switched onto the perimeter they buried it.

[Editor’s Note: Derrick Favors did look haggered on his knee last night. Could be an injury thing.]

Mychal Lowman: The freedom of movement might have been the nail in the coffin for Derrick Favors, BUT these emphases that the NBA does every year die off usually six weeks into the season. If Utah at the end of November sees a spike in their defensive intensity, it could be the result of referees laying off.

Diana: Why is shelvin Mack, Steph Curry against us?

James Hansen: Ughhhhhhh

Mychal Lowman: That lineup of Rubio, Mitchell, Ingles, Favors, and Gobert? It has a net rating of +/- of -5.8. Teams are shooting 49.5% against that lineup vs the lineup with Crowder at the 4 where they shoot 44%. But when Favors is in, teams actually are only shooting 22% from three compared to when Crowder is in they’re shooting 44% from three.

It’s … uh … not good.

James Hansen: Hmmm interesting

Kaleb Searle: Well, there goes my “start Crowder” suggestion.

James Hansen: I still think Crowder should start

Diana: I have never been a start Crowder person

Kaleb Searle: I agree, James, but my love for Crowder is well documented. Lol. I just don’t think Favs at the 4 is sustainable anymore.

Mychal Lowman: But that’s where it gets weird. Crowder is continuing his everything says he shouldn’t start but his +/- when he’s on the court is incredible. Crowder’s +/- right now with the starting lineup is +/- of +25.6.

Now there’s some noise to that. Because when he comes in, the Jazz have been having to come back from the hole that Favors in at the four has dug them.

Diana: Quin’s rotations and game plans (so it seems) are super subpar this season

James Hansen: I just think there’s an eye test here that you have to accept. The team just looks better when Crowder is in. There’s more spacing. Things seem to flow more

Mychal Lowman: Starting Crowder at the four may not have the same wild results, but I think it may finally be time to put the Favors/Gobert backcourt to rest. Zach Lowe was even commenting on his podcast the other day how he’s still fascinated with the Favors/Gobert experiment. Right when you think it should end it’ll have like a 20 game stretch where it looks like it’s working. What I’m saying is the Favors/Gobert backcourt is like a Krispy Kreme donut shop. You never know when the Hot donuts sign is on and, when it is, you’re usually not there to benefit from it.

I agree, James, with the spacing. And I think it’s a function of Jae’s role while out there. You have to guard him on the three point line. Teams will not guard Favors on the perimeter, no matter how much he works on his three point shot. He just won’t ever have that gravity.

Sam Goodrich: It’s sad because Fave is one of my very favorite guys on the team, but I see what you mean

James Hansen: And I think that a lot of the flak that Rubio and Exum get (for their various things) get relieved with more spacing.

Mychal Lowman: And we thought freedom of movement might allow Gobert and Favors to flourish inside, but the result--sadly--has been failing.

James Hansen: You can’t run simple PnR half the time

Mychal Lowman: I know a lot of people credit Quin Snyder for sticking with that lineup of Favors and Gobert last year, but he really only stuck with them for about a month and a half. Gobert was out for two months.

It wasn’t like Favors and Gobert struggled for 53 games side by side last season. It just felt like 53 games.

Diana: I like Favors too much to think of breaking them up. It’s hard because like you said Mylo, when they are on they are on.

I don’t think Crowder is the answer. Memphis looked good and we did not when Crowder was out there tonight.

Mychal Lowman: The league feels like it’s going through an offensive explosion that’s been unseen since they implemented hand checking. I mean, 100-94 right now is a common 3rd quarter score.

Diana: Yeah it seems like the league took away everything the Jazz excelled at

Mychal Lowman: One thing for certain with tonight’s game is Grayson Allen was NOT the answer. lol

+/- of -18. Defense was bad. Got blown by a lot.

Kaleb Searle: Yeah, that was ROUGH. A -18. My goodness.

Diana: I remember lindsey saying last year they built the team to be anti- warriors to go against what the rest of the league was doing. Seems like the league got wind of that and laughed and laughed and put a stop to that

James Hansen: I just think it’s hard on the players to constantly have two styles out there all the time. If the Jazz can play with a certain style all game (stretch 4 along side Rudy or Favs) they might get more consistent

And Crowder isn’t a perfect answer but having him out there improves everyone else

Mychal Lowman: I keep thinking about this tweet. Someone asked the SLC Dunk twitter account how a team that was so good chemistry wise could come out of the gate like this.

Diana: Oh yeah. I favorited that tweet because I agree 100%

Mychal Lowman: And I keep thinking the problem is not as much personnel (though I think the starting lineup needs a tweak with Crowder out there), but that will only go so far. Stardom and the sense that you have arrived can do crazy things to your psyche and preparation.

Diana: And James- yes we need consistency but I don’t know if we have crowder starting. We are thin thin in bigs off the bench

Yeah you saw it with the Deron Williams teams too

James Hansen: Maybe this is good for them to remember they have to bring it every night. I tell you what. My Niang prediction looks better by the game

Kaleb Searle: Are we, Diana? I mean, Favors backup Center makes a lot of sense lineup wise. We have a glut of guys who can play the 4. Crowder, Niang, Thabo.

They’re not traditional bigs but they’re very much modern bigs.

Diana: I don’t know Kaleb. It seems Favors already plays that role.

It seems crowder already mostly plays with the starters and things I don’t know just are not good

And yes maybe the actual officially changing of the roles would make a difference

I don’t know

Mychal Lowman: When I was in grad school (shout out Purdue and Krannert Business School) in organizational behavior, we would talk about necessary opposition. It’s kind of like the quote from the movie Whiplash, “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’.”

The Jazz kept the team the same. Roles for the most part stayed the same. Lineups. The same. Patterns. The same. Preparation. The same. Same internal opposition. Just the opposition from the opposing squad would be a variable. The only difference now is the expectations have changed dramatically. If they’re doing the same things that brought them success this year expecting that it’d repeat this year, they’re in a trap.

Kaleb Searle: Ultimately, I agree with Mychal. No matter who is out there, they just need to get their edge back. I think you nailed it with complacency.

James Hansen: One other thing is Ingles needs to cool it with the turnovers. He had 5 tonight. But that makes me wonder if that’s spacing related

Mychal Lowman: I think it’s spacing and they’ve needed him to step up with either Rubio struggling in a game, or--as was tonight--Mitchell out with injuries.

James Hansen: The story of this season might be how to get a top five defense with a stretch 4

Mychal Lowman: Last year they had to fight hard to get to average basketball and that intensity allowed them to get to great basketball. They’re a moneyball team with a couple elite players. They’re not going to be able to overwhelm teams by sheer ability. They have to do it by execution. Their motto last year--the strength of the team is the team--was built on that execution. That execution is not there. Add in teams play them like there’s a target on their back every night now and it’s not good.

That could be it.

Tavan Parker: Sometimes I almost prefer coming into the season with no expectations. It makes the game to game emotions much easier to handle

Mychal Lowman: Expectations are a completely different beast. Teams play up to you. Can’t catch anybody off guard.

Beating Utah is like getting a trophy for your wall. Clowning Gobert is an achievement.

Diana: With you 100% Mylo

Mychal Lowman: I notice no one is bringing up the most obvious take, all of this struggling started happening when Burks was out of the rotation with injuries.

I’ll take all of your apologies. He’s our MVP.

lol

Diana: I love Burks!

Kaleb Searle: I actually thought of that tonight, watching Grayson Allen do something that I think vaguely resembled basketball, but only in a passing sense.

Diana: I get so upset when James knocks him the podcast

Mychal Lowman: See, James? Burks is a national treasure. That’s what we’re starting the next podcast with. 30 minutes of Alec Burks.

lol

Diana: So we lost tonight because...

Kaleb Searle: Because we can’t beat the Grizzlies? Ever, it seems like?

Diana: I guess when during our peak last year we only beat them because gasol was pulled to save the tank

Mychal Lowman: #TheCurseOfTheBear

Now that the salt has been let out, 2 out of the Jazz’s first three games have come against their kryptonite, Marc Gasol, and the third against the nightmare fuel Golden State Warriors.

Tavan Parker: Odds that the Jazz could actually land a Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, or Kemba Walker?

Sam Goodrich: It’s fitting that the Grizzlies beat us if we’re cursed by the bear. (edited)

Tavan Parker: This seems relevant again haha

Mychal Lowman: I’ll say this … the hyper competitive free agency pool next year makes me wonder if Utah tries to trade early to get a piece close to what they can field in free agency. What happens if you save up all this free cap space and are left still holding the bag July 10th?

Sam Goodrich: I want Kemba so bad it hurts.

Tavan Parker: I agree. DL May have to take a risk similar to the Paul George one for OKC

Mychal Lowman: Because the Jazz don’t even have to struggle to miss the playoffs they could just be really good and still miss it winning 48 games.

Then they’re having to convince a free agent to come to their team that just missed the playoffs.

James Hansen: We might be worrying too much. If Mitchell plays the Jazz likely win that game

Diana: Yeah I really don’t think it’s good for the jazz to put all their eggs in free agency

Mychal Lowman: While it’d be awesome to go flying into the playoffs, have the 2 seed, and say, “LOOK AT THIS EMBARRASMENT OF RICHES,” they could easily win one less game and be a lottery team. The Western Conference is straight up kooky-dooks.

Sam Goodrich: The West is insane. Part of me is hoping for a league expansion, with how deep teams are getting. At the same time, parity at this very moment is probably the best it has ever been.

Diana: I don’t know we played just as bad to the grizzlies with Mitchell

Mychal Lowman: We’re being measured and sane, James. That being said, when the Jazz beat the Celtics, I’ll rationally claim the Jazz will beat the Celtics in 6 to win the NBA Finals.

Right now, Utah is on a flight to Denver.

The 7-1 Denver Nuggets.

On the back end of a back to back. Part of me wonders if Utah is planning on unleashing Mitchell in that game as he went through pregame warmups as if he was healthy.

I think Quin took the risk of not playing him tonight in the hopes they could get the win tonight and get the W tomorrow with a healthy Donovan.

James Hansen: I’ll just say this. Donovan gets it

Mychal Lowman: Denver had the night off.

Diana: Hopefully we have a player that will Linus Kleiza the Nuggets butts!

Mychal Lowman: I will say it’s a good sign Ricky played better tonight. A healthy Donovan. Jae Crowder hitting shots like he did tonight. That could work out well for Utah.

Tomorrow’s game will once again be determined by the centers. Jokic vs Gobert.

Buckle up.