Okay, before we go into Week 4 . . . let's mention Week 3. In Week 3 we had a four game road trip where we played the Brooklyn Nets (win), Indiana Pacers (loss), Miami Heat (loss), and Orlando Magic (win). We bookended two bad losses with necessary road wins against teams playing good basketball. Over all I'm happy. I thought we'd go 1-3 on the trip, so I kind of have to be. The Indiana game was the only *bad* game, but because of it, it gave Alec Burks more time, and he gave the Jazz coaches a better idea of what kind of player he is. So that's the silver lining for that Pacers drubbing. The Nets game was a great comeback win. Miami was another loss, but we kept it close, made a run, and let's not forget that the Heat are the NBA Champs. They're a good team. Orlando? They're missing some key parts and made it close, but again, this was a come back win for our Jazz.
So in my books it was a very solid 2-2 week.
Moving on . . .
December Week 4:
- Wednesday, December 26th: Golden State Warriors @ Utah Jazz
- Friday, December 28th: Los Angeles Clippers @ Utah Jazz
- Sunday, December 30th: Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Clippers
This is what I said waaaay back at the beginning of the month:
"Yes, we're really lucky enough to see Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and crew three times this month. We finish off the month with three games against Californian teams, twice at home. We really should be in each of these games if we're as good as I think we should be at this stage of the season (33 games in, 40.2% through the season). I say the Jazz go 2-1 here. They better."
Since then and now some crazy things have happened.
The first is that the Warriors have won 8 of their last 11 games (they last played on the 22nd, an overtime loss to the Los Angeles Lakers). The Warriors also went on a 6 wins in their last 8 road game stretch. During that period they beat the Detroit Pistons, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Charlotte Bobcats, Miami Heat, and Atlanta Hawks -- dropping games to the Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings. Golden State is talented, confident, and winning. And it makes me sick. They play at a fast pace (6th best in the league), and score 101.8 ppg. They are a surprisingly adept defensive club (14th in Def rating). They're killing it on the defensive glass, and shooting 45.6 / 37.3 / 78.7 across the board. And they're doing all of this without Andrew Bogut.Stephen Curry and David Lee both average over 20 ppg, with Klay Thompson a hair under 16. Carl Landry, Jarrett Jack, and Harrison Barnes all average in double digits on any given night as well. They are playing really well, and their stats look nice (thanks to their pace of play).
And right now they're 5th best in the West.
The second crazy thing is that the Clippers are 2nd best in the Western Conference, and have won 13 games in a row. They are 12-3 at home and 9-3 on the road. They are Top 10 in PPG, opponents PPG, Off Rtg and also Def Rtg. They are getting it done. And it's crazy. Because these are the Clippers.
The Clippers and Warriors -- abject laughingstocks for the vast majority of my NBA lifetime (which started in the early 80s) -- are two teams I'm worried about now. My how the times have changed.
The Jazz play each team with a night off in between, so we shouldn't be tired. The first two are at home, and I like our chances there, the Clippers roadie on the 30th looks like a schedule loss . . . even though we've won all of the Sunday road games this month.
Before this month started I felt like we'd go 2-1 during this stretch. The Jazz surprised me this last week by winning 1 more game than I thought they would. As a result, I feel like I'll lower the bar here to 1-2 -- and promise not to be mad if they only win 1 of their next 3 games. They went 2-2 on a road trip, I expect them to play better at home. And I will be okay with whatever they do.
If they DO go 1-2 they'll end up being 16-16; which is exactly what I predicted. Which is fine. We're on schedule to set the world on fire in January and February.