The Cleveland Cavaliers are re-loading, the Washington Wizards will be soon as well, but really: Who cares about the Eastern Conference? The Utah Jazz are doing things, and people are finally noticing. Also you’ll never guess which team is really good on the road.
Okay, right off the bat - the Utah Jazz are really cooking right now. They have won the first two on this road trip (beating the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards), and have won three straight overall. They are cooking, but it’s not just home cooking that’s getting them the wins. Since that brutal 5 games in 7 nights Road Trip out East in January (when the team was super duper injured) Utah has not just been terrific on the road. They have beaten the Phoenix Suns (106-101), Dallas Mavericks (112-107 OT), Atlanta Hawks (120-95), New Orleans Pelicans (127-94), Milwaukee (109-95) and Washington (102-92) - and lost only to the Denver Nuggets (93-103) and Dallas (105-112 OT). That’s 6-2 since those ugly losses to the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors weeks ago.
Aside from the split against the Mavs and the schedule loss against the Nuggets (second night of a back-to-back, third game in four, fourth game in five), the Jazz have been kicking butt and taking names and living out of a suit case. That’s very out of character for this franchise. So I just wanted to point that out as they are in Oklahoma City tonight to face the Thunder.
This game will be the last game of the road trip, the last game of the month, and the beginning of the most critical time of the season: March. If Utah is playing well through March it doesn’t matter what they do to close out the season. This young squad can relieve a lot of pressure on themselves by playing at this high level over the next period.
Of course, the hypothesis of “Utah = Good Road Team” will be truly tested in March: @ Sacramento Kings, @ Houston Rockets, @ Oklahoma City Thunder, @ Detroit Pistons, @ Cleveland Cavaliers, @ Chicago Bulls, @ Indiana Pacers, @ Los Angeles Clippers, and @ Sacramento Kings.
The silver lining is that a) the schedule is very regimented next month (games every Monday, Wednesday, and one on either Friday or Saturday), b) the travel is regular, and c) the practices will be at the same time and same off-day each week. They can focus on just basketball for the most part. It’s a great monastic experience for a team that is peaking at just the right time.
The opposite appears to be true for the New Orleans Pelicans. Let’s just look at TWO stories that, honestly, may have some relationship between the two:
The Pelicans are 0-3 since acquiring Boogie. This experiment isn’t going to work overnight. https://t.co/OnHMNolnRt— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) February 28, 2017
DeMarcus Cousins sure seems to be having fun in New Orleans off the court. https://t.co/AV61NevJzL— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) February 28, 2017
And yes, Eagle-eyed readers, he’s wearing underwear on his head.
Correlation does not equal to causation; but, c’mon man. Look at how seriously someone like Rudy Gobert takes his game, and then look at Boogie - the Emperor of getting stats on a bad team.
In 8 > 3 news, Deron Williams has now officially signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
And yes, he will be wearing 31 for his jersey, because, you know, 3-1 lead jokes are never overdone. There’s a lot to be unpacked here. Yes, he’s back with Kyle Korver.
But more importantly, he feels as though this is a great fit for him because he can come off the bench and play with talented guys.
So what’s my bottom line? Well, I want the Utah Jazz to win the NBA Championship this year. If they can’t then the next most important conclusion for the season -- for me — is that Golden State does not. If that means rooting for a LeBron James / Kyrie Irving / Kevin Love / Deron Williams / Kyle Korver group then so be it.
By the way, the Mothership has recognized that G-Time is dunking on people.
That’s a fun grouping of a lot of his recent jams. We all already knew what he was capable of. Which is your favorite Hayward H-bomb?
Do you speak Spanish? Do you have access to google translate? Either way, Trey Burke finally is not upset with the Utah Jazz anymore.
Also, he is close with a bunch of guys on the team and talks to them regularly. I hope he finds his place in the NBA. Despite helicopter parents, and the utter humbling he has gone through as a pro, I still think he’s not a bad guy. He may be cut from the team soon though to make room from Brandon Jennings.
That’s gotta suck.