Archive for the ‘Utah Jazz’ Category

Jazz Lakers

After a heartbreaking loss to cross-town-rival L.A. Clippers, the Lakers are once again on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned.

That coveted eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff seedings is now held by the Utah Jazz, after they beat the Golden State Warriors on the road.

The Jazz hold a current half-game lead over the Lakers, which, because the Jazz own the tiebreaker between the two, is actually a 1 1/2 game lead. In other words, the Jazz’s proverbial destiny is in their own hands. Win out, and they’re in.

But, how likely is it that the Jazz win out? Not likely. However, the Lakers schedule is no treat either.

Jazz remaining schedule:

4/9 – vs Oklahoma City

4/12 – vs Minnesota

4/15 – at Minnesota

4/17 – at Memphis

Lakers remaining schedule:

4/9 – vs New Orleans

4/10 – at Portland

4/12 – vs Golden State

4/14 – vs San Antonio

4/17 – vs Houston

Mathematically, the Lakers need to win two more of their remaining games than the Jazz do. (i.e. if the Jazz win three of their four, the Lakers must win all five remaining games)

Looking at the Jazz’s remaining games against the Lakers’ remaining games, it seems highly unlikely that the Lakers get that spot back.

I would bet the Jazz end up winning three of their four games, with the lone loss coming against the Thunder at home.

This puts the Lakers in a terrible spot. Winning all five games is going to be nearly impossible. Nearly.

The two games I can see as the Lakers’ biggest issues are San Antonio and Houston.

The good news for LA is that both of those games are at home and both of those games are the last games of the season, which means both the Spurs and Rockets may be resting starters by then, as both of them have clinched their playoff spots.

The bad news, is that the Lakers aren’t exactly the most popular team in the NBA and it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that every team remaining on the Lakers’ schedule would love to play the “spoiler” role.

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There seems to be two top dogs remaining in the NBA playoffs. The San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat.

English: Wizards v/s Heat 03/30/11

English: Dwyane Wade and LeBron James (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Spurs have been on a tear lately, going 20-0 in their last 20 games. These 20 victories include series sweeps over the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers as well as convincing victories in Games 1 & 2 of their Western Conference series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Miami Heat have also completed Game 1 & 2 of their conference finals series with the Boston Celtics.

Both Eastern and Western Conference Finals series head back to the lower-seeded teams’ home courts for Games 3 and 4 in Boston and Oklahoma City, respectively.

Ah, all of a sudden, the task doesn’t seem so easy for the favorite Spurs and Heat.

The Thunder fans are real hyped fans. What would you expect from a state whose entire population is currently stir crazy waiting for college football to start? Seriously, what else is there? (See also Jazz fans).

Both the Spurs and Heat have had to overcome being behind late in a game and overcoming deficit to earn the win. Alternately, they have each cruised for a dominant victory.

Spectacular as each team is, the Heat and Spurs both have chinks in the armor that have been exposed at one point or another in these playoffs.

For the Heat, interior play has been absolutely key. With the injury suffered by Chris Bosh early in the second round against the Indiana Pacers, the Heat’s defense against the low post and rebounding has been a cause for concern. The Pacers were able to take advantage of the deficiency in Games 2 and 3 of that series and earned W’s against the favored Heat. Of course, Dwyane Wade‘s struggles to score were no small factor either.

LeBron James has produced consistently the entire postseason, averaging 29.6 points/9.2 rebounds/5.8 assists per game. Dwyane Wade more than any other Heat player determines the outcome of the game. When he plays well, he compliments LeBron’s contributions and victory is imminent. When Wade plays poorly, LeBron finds himself in the same scenario as rookie Michael Jordan, scoring 63 points against the Celtics in 2 OT in a losing effort.

The Spurs are the epitome of “team basketball.” Their crisp passing and intelligent play has been frustrating the last 20 teams San Antonio has faced.

Tony Parker, who is averaging 20.5 points/3.8 rebounds/7.1 assists per game in the Spurs’ “sweep-fest” is clearly the most valuable Spur at this point. He and Tim Duncan are the strongest contributors on the team with great production out of Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and others. It appears the only thing that can stop the Spurs is either father time as the games move forward, or the offense missing jumpers and letting the opposition go on the fast break.

The Thunder and Celtics both have their backs to the wall and will look to defend their home courts in order to steal one on the road. You can bet if the Spurs or Heat can get just one win on the road over the next two games, it’ll be a Spurs/Heat finals.

There was a time (actually 20 years) when year in and year out, the Utah Jazz were contenders for both their division and often the conference title. How far the mighty have fallen.

This season saw Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer leave for the Chicago Bulls, Jerry Sloan throw in the towel, and Deron Williams traded to the New Jersy Nets.

Even after Karl Malone and John Stockton left, Sloan was able to piece together playoff seasons, but this year will take years to recover from.

Just more evidence that jumping the Jazz ship in ’99 was the right thing to do.

“D-Will” leave in 2012

Posted: February 20, 2011 by Dan Condie in NBA, Utah Jazz
Tags: , , , , , ,

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If you polled 1,000 Utah resident sports fans and asked who the most hated sports figure in Utah was, chances are 95%+ would say Deron Williams.

Reports have come out that Jazz star point guard Deron Williams has mentioned plans to leave the Utah Jazz following his final contract year in 2012.

These reports came just weeks after Williams was allegedly involved in Jerry Sloan’s decision to retire mid-way through his 23rd season. Needless to say, Williams has become quite the villain the month of February.

The craziest thing, is that had you taken the same survey 2 months ago, Williams, or D-Will as old fans lovingly referred to him, would have received almost none of those votes.

The bright side for Jazz fans, they’ll have a top 5 draft pick in 2013 when their record tanks…

Jerry Sloan, longest tenured coach, not only in the NBA, but in all professional sports, announced during a scheduled press conference Feb. 9th 2012, that he would be stepping down and resigning as head coach of the Utah Jazz.

This came as a shock to not only Utahns, but to NBA fans and players around the league. LeBron said on his twitter page “Man its gonna be crazy and weird seeing anyone besides Jerry Sloan walking the sidelines for the Utah Jazz! Jerry Sloan is the Utah Jazz. Wow”.

I can relate to this statement from King James. I was 2 years old, LeBron 3, when Jerry Sloan took the Jazz reigns in 1988.

Sloan has been the backbone of the Jazz. Any Sloan-coached player that had success in Utah credits Sloan and his system for that success. He ran a tight ship and everyone had their place. Coincidence that John Stockton and Karl Malone needed to be replaced by Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer before they had playoff success again? I don’t believe so.

Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams exchange words during game

Although there have been recent reports of altercations between Sloan and Williams, Sloan said “…my energy level has dropped off a little bit…and it’s time to move on.”

Winning in the NBA, when all is said and done, comes down to really only 2 things; match-ups and depth. I can prove it with a little formula I thought of for the All-Star game. To show a correlation between a team’s representation in the All-Star game and its place in the rankings, I’ve created a simple point system. 5 points per starter a team has and 3 points per reserve. The rankings worked out in this order.

East:

1. Miami Heat – 13 points (2 Starters: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, 1 Reserve: Chris Bosh)

2. Boston Celtics – 12 points (4 Reserves: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen)

3. Atlanta Hawks – 6 points (2 Reserves: Joe Johnson and Al Horford)

4. Chicago Bulls – 5 points (1 Starter: Derek Rose)

– Orlando Magic – 5 points (1 Starter: Dwight Howard)

– New York Knicks – 5 points (1 Starter: Amar’e Stoudemire)

West:

1. LA Lakers – 8 points (1 Starter: Kobe Bryant 1 Reserve: Pau Gasol)

– OK City Thunder – 8 points (1 Starter: Kevin Durant 1 Reserve: Russell Westbrook)

3. San Antonio Spurs – 6 points (2 Reserves: Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili)

4. New Orleans Hornets – 5 points (1 Starter: Chris Paul)

5. Denver Nuggets – 5 points (1 Starter: Carmello Anthony)

6. Dallas Mavericks – 3 points (1 Reserve: Dirk Nowitzki)

7. Utah Jazz – 3 points (1 Reserve: Deron Williams)

8. LA Clippers – 3 points (1 Reserve: Blake Griffin)

9. Minnesota Timerwolves – 3 points (1 Reserve: Kevin Love)

First, let’s look at the East. Aside from the fact that the Heat and Celtics are currently 2nd and 1st in the actual current standings, respectively, this point system loosely reflects the standings of the top 6 teams in the Eastern Conference standings to date.

The Western Conference is a little more spread out, talent-wise. The team with the conference’s worst record is even represented with a reserve player (Kevin Love). However, the point rings true as all 3 top teams in the conference, San Antonio, Dallas and Los Angeles are all represented by 2 All-Stars, while the remaining 6 All-Stars are lone team selections.

I’m sure this same formula could be applied when the Lakers were boasting both Kobe and Shaq as All-Star starters back when they were winning 3 titles in a row. Nothing has changed. Only the names and faces.

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Background on Morgan Butler – Morgan is a ballerina at the University of Utah. She has been dancing, both professionally and for college, since she was 17 years old.

This girl is the most knowledgeable girl I’ve ever met when it comes to the Utah Jazz. She, and numerous others of the females I choose to surround myself with, inspired the newest of my article ideas. “Estrogen Corner”.

I will interview these ladies on their own special sport of expertise. Here is the interview with Morgan:

Dan Condie – How do you think the additions of Jefferson and Bell will help the Jazz this season?

Morgan Butler – I’ve already been to two games this preseason plus a team scrimage where I got to really see these two in action. Jefferson’s size will give us a competitive edge that, in my opinion, is way better than what Booz gave us. Ha. Speaking of [Boozer], he is out, if you haven’t already heard. The season hasn’t even started and he is already out. Poor Jazz of the East. Anyway, Bell has already proven with our team that he knows how to play the “Sloan” way. He is a terrific player who runs the court and made a couple pretty solid 3’s in the last pre season game against the Kings.

DC – Who will be the biggest surprise player to step up this season?

MB – I am going to have to say Evans. That number 40 has got some pretty sick moves. I know it was just preseason and Sloan has his hierarchy, so Evans most likely will not get much playing time, but the kid is amazing! He is a lightweight, but fast, and can maneuver around everyone in the paint and get the ball in. Plus he has some pretty fancy shots that he was showing out there, which was impressive to see from a 2nd round draft rookie.

DC – What do you anticipate from Millsap this year?

MB – I expect some good D from Millsap. He is big and knows how to get the job done but, for some reason, the refs always get him. He always gets this face that is like, “you have got to be kidding me.” But I think the fouls are worth it. Get new refs, NBA, because Millie isn’t even doing anything wrong. What did he ever do to them?

DC – Where will the Jazz rank at the end of the year if they can keep a decent number of players healthy for once?

MB – I think we will be number two in the west. Possibly even number one. We want to stop the Lakers cause they always are going to the finals representing the West, and I’m sick of it. Always root for the underdog and that team and their leader Kobe are much too cocky for their own good! Plus, I’m convinced that if Kobe were an animal, he would be a turtle. Seriously thoug,  take a look at his face next time it’s on your HD flat screen tv.

DC – Speaking of looks, who will be your heart throb now that Kyle Korver is gone?

MB – Ronnie Price, of course. He is def[initely] the best looking. Too bad he’s married though… I guess from the bachelor list, Hayward is pretty cute. I mean, he is no Ashton Kutcher look alike, but he is an attractive guy!:)

DC – When will Sloan let Williams off his scoring leash?

MB – Well it’s his job to pass the ball and let others score. This is what makes him such a great Point Guard! He always delivers in crunch time and that’s when his scoring abilities count the most. Sloan knows what he is doing, and D Will respects that.

DC – Ok but don’t tell me you don’t get a little upset with Sloan when he acts system first, talent second and it costs the game.

MB – Yes I do get upset. I remember two seasons ago, we were in the playoffs last game against the Lakers. None of our first string players were healthy. We played bench players that whole series. When Sloan finally put Price in, he led the team incredibly and brought us forward so many points when we were so behind that game. I think that game Ronnie gained the respect of a lot of fans and Sloan himself issued a formal apology for not utilizing him more during the season.

DC – What will be the Jazz’s weak point?

MB – It’s too early to say. We are undefeated so far, so in my mind, we must be doing something right. I would say sometimes we get a little sloppy and have too many turnovers from stupid things like not paying attention. Cough…FES.

DC – Well FES shouldn’t get the ball too much I wouldn’t think.

MB – Well I feel like with as much time we have invested in him, this is his year to prove himself. Otherwise, Sloan will want him gone.

DC – Ok Morgan, what do you wanna say to about your Jazz or Kobe or LeBron? The stage is yours.

MB – The NBA should watch out for the JAZZ this season. We’re bigger, stronger, healthier and we are a threat in the West. I cannot wait to take on some of the greats like Kobe and LeBron. We have beat them in the past and we have the tools to do it again. This will be one of the best seasons yet and I couldn’t be more excited!!!

So there you have it guys. There are girls out there that are up on their sports. Hopefully this puts the spotlight on em.

If you know any ladies that are more than just a pretty face and think they would be good for the next “Estrogen Corner”, email me at forthandwon@gmail.com