The Utah Jazz are in the make-or-break part of their season. We take a look at the next 10 games. Also we dispel the issue of being a team no name players love to play against. Joe Ingles is making waves, and we laugh at a few fluff moments from the home experience! And, of course, let’s debate about the failing ESPN!
The Utah Jazz have to show up at this part of the season. It’s time to prove that they are not a team floating at #4, but claiming home court advantage. The next 10 games could really be a spring board for the team or a minefield. Only three games are at home (vs Clippers, Knicks, and Pelicans) -- but the team isn’t that great at home compared to what we expect of them. The seven road games go from hard to reasonable to potentially impossible. And it’s spread out a little bit, so there’s at least that!
- “Trip” 1: Wednesday @ Rockets; Saturday @ Thunder
- Trip 2: Wednesday @ Pistons, Thursday @ Cavaliers, Saturday @ Bulls, Monday @ Pacers
- “Trip” 2: Saturday @ Clippers
“Trip” 1 is in quotations because there are two off-days between game one and two. So it’s likely that the team returns to base before. But Houston and OKC are West Playoff teams that are trying to win every game possible. Houston would be even more motivated to win tonight to proverbially put the nail in the coffin of whatever 3rd/4th seed race there is. OKC has had the Jazz’ number this season and Russell Westbrook has been indomitable.
The second trip is the last Eastern trip until the NBA Finals. (Aim high.) The Cavaliers are the World Champs, but are right now on a two game losing streak. I doubt they will be on a two game losing streak next week, but it’s clear that they have injuries and a bunch of new parts, and it all doesn’t fit together well right now. That’s not going to be an easy game. The other three games though? Detroit, Chicago, and Indiana are also all Eastern Conference playoff teams, but they are all basically .500 teams, out East. They have “name” players in Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, and Paul George and dealer’s choice (Jeff Teague, Myles Turner, Al Jefferson, etc). But I don’t think they pose a serious threat to the Jazz - a team that seems to do really well against the East (not including BOS and TOR).
The last road game in this set of 10, against the Clippers, is going to be the season series capper. If the Jazz can beat LA at home on the 13th and on the road on the 25th then we all should feel a lot better about a potential LAC @ UTA playoff series. If not, it will tell us all (and the world) what this team should be ready for.
The results may not be what we want, but it really helps inform the front office and the coaching staff about what this team is and needs to still get better at.
Are the Jazz winning enough at home? Maybe? Maybe not? What can’t be debated is that the team has worked hard on their in-game experience. Better Jumbotron, better audio system, there are upgrades coming to the concessions available, they have an in-house DJ . . . and there’s also this:
I TRIED SO HARD NOT TO LAUGH BUT LMLOOOOOOOO pic.twitter.com/SzJ1YVMK6M— chef rach (@rachaelhoops) March 7, 2017
You know who is having a really nice contract year? Our very own Joe Ingles. Ingles is a vet who has played all over the world, and in big games. He has represented his country, and pro teams in pro leagues all over. He knows how to play defense, gamble for steals, dive for the ball, pass, and mainly, shoot. It’s not just Jazz fans who see this, either. (And sadly, not just the Jazz GM, but other GMs as well.) ESPN’s Zach Lowe put him on his Luke Walton All-Star team!
The 6th annual Luke Walton All-Stars, starring: a China League star, a marathon sleeper, Bloodsport, Pierre, more https://t.co/cEvPiFEgKA— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) March 8, 2017
Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
In late October 2014, Ingles finished up the Clippers' last preseason game while his wife, Renae, was on a flight from Australia to meet him. The Clippers waived Ingles before she landed. "I was on the team when she took off," Ingles said, "and then when she got to the airport, I wasn't. It was pretty disappointing."
Quin Snyder had coached against Ingles in Europe and thought he was worth a flier. The Jazz picked him up, and Ingles made the 2014-15 Waltons. He was something of a novelty -- a wise-cracking, shot-phobic Aussie who would surely be gone once Utah got good.
Nope. Ingles is still here, spot-starting and logging heavy minutes -- even in a season that began with Snyder warning him: you're our fifth wing and break-in-case-of-emergency big man, and you might not play at all unless you defend your ass off. Ingles has been so good, the Jazz actually have to worry about his impending free agency.
Ingles just keeps the machine churning. He shoots now when he's open, and sometimes even when he's not, and has hit 44 percent from deep -- third best in the league. He is one the NBA's canniest extra passers. He pushes the ball after snaring a rebound, and he can move things along with a functional pick-and-roll. Playing decisively makes slow people seem fast.
He picks out cutters, and has developed a wink-wink chemistry with Gordon Hayward on backdoor lobs:
Ingles has started a lot of games on the wing in place of Rodney Hood, and Snyder has asked him to defend some smaller shooting guards. He has managed shockingly well considering his, umm, disadvantages. "I'm not the quickest guy," Ingles said. "But I have some tricks."
He thinks one step ahead, and he has smart hands; Ingles has plucked almost two steals per 36 minutes -- most on the team.
Joe has been great, and he’s going to get a very nice pay-day this July. He’s on the Jazz, for now. And he’s on Lowe’s All-Star team right now too. Check out the rest of his selections here!
And speaking of Joe, here he is signing for super Jazz fan from Japan Yoshiki!
イングルス pic.twitter.com/jKNaOEAblp— yoshiki (@Yoshiki_go_jazz) March 7, 2017
I love how Jazz fans from all over the world a) exist, and b) make it to Utah for games. Not all of them get the red carpet treatment, but I’m glad people can travel and make their dreams come true.
Sooooooo . . . what’s the thought process on this Carmelo Anthony fan?
I have found the saddest person in the state of Utah. (Yes, this is from last night when the *JAZZ* played the *PELS*) pic.twitter.com/wftVQVPPte— moni (@monilogue) March 7, 2017
Is he lost? Speaking of being lost . . . it’s our impression that almost every single night a random guy from the other team goes off on the Jazz. Apparently . . . that’s not the case? Ed Kupfer is on it:
NBA 2016-17: number of times each team's defense allowed a season-high in scoring to opposing players pic.twitter.com/JB0cORYddR— Ed Küpfer (@EdKupfer) March 6, 2017
I guess part of that has to be a combination of a slow pace and an epic defense. At some point someone needs to make a list of all the Jazz-killers out there. It seems like this data should reflect our fears more. Or, more rationally, perhaps our fears are unfounded when you actually look at the data? (Woah, this is too political!)
Are you cutting the cord? Are you leaving ESPN? Are you doing it because you object to how “political” sports is now? Is ESPN hurting? Is it because they are too “liberal”? Is that why they have to lay off more people?
Or is it because you — the consumer — just have other options now? My man Tommy Dee is a smart guy and wrote about a lesser exposed angle to the whole “less people are watching ESPN thing” -- so check it out!
Taught 3 years worth of classes on this and the direct impact mobile was having on TV ratings and revenue. https://t.co/weGCvObbzr— Tommy Dee (@ThomasCDee) March 8, 2017
Once again it’s technology that’s making the difference here.