The latest results are in, and it doesn't look good for the Utah Jazz if you just crunch the Win and Loss records. But if you look under the covers you may be delighted with what you see. And it's not just defense either! This year's Utah Jazz club looks to be one returning to form on offense, and could be the team no one wants to face down the stretch of this season -- just like last year.
The Utah Jazz start a pretty significant home stand right now. After being on the road for a number of road trips (one in OCT/NOV, one in NOV, and one in JAN that was shortened by weather) it's nice to see the team actually get comfy at home. The longest Utah had previously been at home was a four game stretch spread out over eight nights. They played the New Orleans Pelicans, Golden State Warriors, Orlando Magic, and Indiana Pacers. The Jazz dropped the games against the Dubs and Magic, but recovered to beat Indy. This was right around the time the Jazz injuries went from "bad" to "horribly worse".
Utah will not get the chance to play six straight games at home, over a span of 12 nights. That's a lot of time at home sleeping in your own bed, doing your own laundry, checking your own mailbox, and showering at home. There are zero travel days, and more time for both resting and more time for actual practices. The Jazz will face the Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, and Milwaukee Bucks.
If the Jazz want to make some sort of move in the West they need to do it right now -- after the home stand they play three games on the road (@ Phoenix Suns, @ Dallas Mavericks, @ New Orleans Pelicans) right before the All-Star Break. It's almost now or never.
Zach Kempner of numberFire.com seems to be thinking the same thing, as the Jazz went down from last week being a 51% lock to make the playoffs to being only a 39% lock with the recent road trip in the rear view mirror.
Here are numberFire's NBA projections heading into this week:
Wins: 38.01 - 43.99 (Change: -0.38 wins)
Division: 0% (Change: 0%)
Playoffs: 38.6% (Change: -13.05%)
- 1-seed: 0% (Change: 0%)
- 2-seed: 0% (Change: 0%)
- 3-seed: 0% (Change: 0%)
- 4-seed: 0.25% (Change: 0.15%)
- 5-seed: 2.45% (Change: 0%)
- 6-seed: 6.2% (Change: -1.45%)
- 7-seed: 11.8% (Change: -4.15%)
- 8-seed: 17.9% (Change: -7.6%)
Conference Champion: 0.05% (Change: -0.05%)
NBA Champion: 0% (Change: -0.05%)
Power Rankings: 15 (Last Week: 15)
When you have a less than 30% chance of making either the 7th or 8th seed then you have to really hope for a dramatic turn around after the All-Star break.
Remember how the Jazz had a healthy Quin Snyder) you don't really see any specific trend.and last year and really dug in and won with defense? Things are different this season. First, well, the team isn't healthy and have been missing all season long. Missing your best perimeter defender is bad, but the team is also missing one of their worst offensive players as well. The on-court results seem to be startling. If you look at the last five seasons (and two head coaches: and
Overall the Jazz team of the last five seasons has been one that plays at a slow pace. Even the high scoring / moderate pace team of '11-12 wasn't THAT fast. One thing that has been huge with the slow pace is that the team really doesn't let other teams score that often. However, the DRTG hasn't been groundbreaking, except for the team last season after the All-Star Break.
This year's squad is a Top 10 Offense right now. I don't think that's how we envision our squad. But that's why I feel like our team is going to be better on offense than defense going forward -- the defense isn't going to be bad. But the offense, under genius Snyder, is going to be one that facilitates five players getting good shots in the half court. It's just complex and hard for young people to grasp. But I am confident that the team will get there in time. And Snyder has two more years under contract after this season is up. We will see results on the court that make us feel better about re-signing him at that point in time.
As long asisn't the first big off the bench, that is.
But back to the offense, even the team is getting work done off of Isolation plays now. When in Jazz history could we say that before?
That's not bad. Not bad at all.
What has been "bad" this season with all the injuries have been the bench. Or at least, we see the offense really struggling withouton the court. Most teams do without their best player and massive injuries. , Trevor Booker, and have been okay off the bench this year. Some have even had great games this year. Missing Alec Burks hurts a lot as well, we have a bad idea of who he is, even though he is in his 5th year in the league. DNP-CDs and Injuries have made him a mystery.
What's not a mystery has been the San Antonio Spurs continuation of success, from year to year, but also from five man line-up to line-up. When they bench comes in they are still putting in work. This is what we want for our guys down the line.
The data isn't horrible. Utah has a pretty okay bench compared to the rest of the league. This goes against the obvious eye-ball test. But it's true according to FiveThiryEight. The Jazz have a better defensive bench than the Warriors (!), and their offense is about -3 BPM. If you look at the ranks, the Jazz bench's Offensive Box +/- would be 7th in the NBA, and Defensive Box +/- is 4th.
This is clearly not how we see our team. But this is where data helps us better put into context the performances of our team as a unit, instead of our players as individuals.
This Rudy Gobert block againstbrings back a lot of memories for me . . . of getting stuffed by my older brothers (all taller than me) on our driveway court.
Bitter sweet memories.