News and Noteworthy With the Utah Jazz

Only 4 Games Remain:

With only four games remaining in the regular season, I thought it would be good to look at the current standings for the bottom half of the Western Conference and the chance the Jazz have of making the playoffs.  Check out the graph here:

Seed

Team

Wins

Losses

H/R Rem

GB

Vs. Jazz

5

Memphis

36

25

4-1

8.5

1-2

6

Denver

34

27

2-3

10.5

1-2

7

Dallas

34

28

2-2

11

3-1

8

Phoenix

32

29

4-1

12.5

2-0

9

Houston

32

29

2-3

12.5

1-2

10

Utah

32

30

3-1

13

Jazz Own Tiebreaker

Here are each team’s remaining games:

Seed

Team

Games Remaining

5

Memphis NO @Char Port Clev Orl

6

Denver LAC @Pho Orl @OKC @Minn

7

Dallas Hou GS @Chi @Atl  

8

Phoenix OKC LAC Den @Utah SAS

9

Houston @DAL @NO GS @MIA NO

10

Utah @Port Orl Pho Port  

I’ll let you look over this data and make your own interpretations but in my estimation, Denver, Phoenix, and Houston all have brutal ends to the season.  If Dallas isn’t careful, they could slip, but they could also lock up the 6th seed, and I expect they will.  I don’t see Memphis losing, so they should hang on to 5.  That leaves four teams fighting over 2 spots.  The Jazz own a tie breaker over Denver and Houston and of the four teams, the Jazz have the easiest schedule.  They should beat Portland twice, finally get a win against Phoenix, and without Dwight Howard, the Magic will live and die by the three.  Conceivably, the Jazz could lock up four more wins and make a push for that 7th spot.

Costly Losses in the Playoff Race:

However, if the Jazz were to miss the playoffs, I’ll give seven reasons why:

February 2 – At Golden State.  Right before this game, the Jazz lost both Devin Harris and Earl Watson to injury and had only one point guard to try and contain the dynamic back court duo of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry.  But that isn’t an excuse to lose to the Warriors.  The Jazz allowed David Lee to grab 14 rebounds and the trio combined to score 85 of the teams’ 119 points.

February 6 – At New York.  The birth of “Linsanity” arrived in New York as the unknown Jeremy Lin started his first game at point guard and the Knicks fielded a team of backups with stars Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire unable to play.  Lin pitched in 28 points and handed out 8 dimes as the Jazz just never got going, shooting only 43% (18% from three).  The Jazz were outrebounded, out-assisted, gave up more turnovers, and had fewer steals and blocks.

February 13 – At New Orleans.  Arguably the worst game of the season for the Jazz.  Recently reactivated reserve Chris Kaman started the game at center and dropped 27 and 13 on the disinterested Jazz, who may have been looking to Oklahoma City the next night or feeling invincible after a win the night before in Memphis.  This team learned that it isn’t good enough to just show up and win, but needs to stay focused if they want to win.

February 28 – At Sacramento.  Allowing DeMarcus Cousins to go for 22 and 18 is bad enough, but letting diminutive point guard Isaiah Thomas get you for 18 and 8 is not going to cut it for a team that wants to play playoff basketball.

March 30 – Sacramento.  The Jazz were looking to make a statement by winning a game they should win in convincing manner, but instead lost when two shots with 1 second remaining both missed at the rim and a third that went in was waived off.  Cousins owned the Jazz again with 27 and 14.  Al Jefferson had 27 and 16, Gordon Hayward set a then-career high in scoring with 19 but it wasn’t enough as this young Jazz team still needs to learn how to close out close games.  An ugly side note: Derrick Favors set an all-time mark for futility for the Jazz by shooting 0-13 in the game, most of which were missed put backs at the rim.

April 4 – Phoenix.  The Jazz lost a second game in four games with a waived off shot at the buzzer as they fell at home to Steve Nash and the Suns.  With the playoffs looming, this game had huge implications for both teams, but Nash made two shots in the final minute that elevated the Suns to a big road win and helped them to finally leap frog Utah in the playoff chase.  But despite the heroics, the Jazz were unable to close out the Suns earlier even when Michael Redd and Markieff Morris were in off the bench while Nash rested.  Redd pitched in 19 and Morris added 11.  But the kick in the pants was the Channing Frye bank in, turn around three pointer with 1.0 seconds on the shot clock to give the Suns a 103-98 advantage with 1:07 on the game clock.  Lost in the shuffle was yet another then-career high in scoring of 20 by Hayward.

April 13 – At New Orleans.  Again, with the playoffs looming the Jazz secured a huge win two days before by beating Houston in Houston only to fall flat to the worst team in the west in New Orleans.  This time Eric Gordon took it to the Jazz and left them scratching their heads as to why they only were able to win one of three versus this team.

Jazz 2012 Free Agency:

Whenever this season ends for the Utah Jazz (and hopefully, it won’t be on April 26) the team will need to start looking at its own free agents.  (I previously addressed who I think they should go after here.)

CJ Miles – Jazz fans are tired of the “project” that is CJ Miles and it’s time to cut ties with the 7 year vet.  He earned $3.7 million this season and in my opinion, no money is too much to pay him to underwhelm in Utah for another season.

Josh Howard – If Howard can be had for the $2.15 million he earned this season, I hope the team resigns him.  He provides a leadership and veteran presence this young group of core players needs to keep them focused and playing hard.  Heck, pitch in another $1.6 and pay him what CJ earned and he should stick around, healthy or not.

Jeremy Evans – Evans should be resigned for a few reasons.  1 – Look how long they kept CJ around as a “project.” 2 – He’s a fan favorite.  3 – He has a day here in the state of Utah.  How can you let him go?

DeMarre Carroll – Carroll has proven to be a quality contributor in most of the contests he’s played in, including 45 minutes on the court in the huge 3 OT win over the Mavs the other night.  He’s earned the right to another year in Utah to see if he can’t be developed into a solid role player.

Gordon Hayward:

He’s quickly proving the boo birds wrong from draft day and becoming a local favorite.  Check out this highlight video that shows some of his best stuff.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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