How do the Jazz get a win tonight? Is it even reasonable to hope for a win tonight? Or should we all just be happy that our Jazz made the playoffs and start looking toward next year?
Clearly, the term, “playing with house money” applies to the Jazz at this time. This team was expected to be one of the worst teams in the league this season and to make the playoffs is nothing short of an unexpected miracle season. And while I think he should have had more “appreciation” than he got, head coach Ty Corbin did finish sixth in this year’s Coach of the Year Award. So what does anyone expect from the playoffs this year? I don’t expect much. I honestly expect the Jazz might win one game and wouldn’t be surprised to see them swept out. (To be fair, I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Jazz figured something out and beat this Spurs team, but I’m far too much of a realist to hang any hope there.) All I hoped for as this season wore down was to be in the playoffs. Eventually, this team has to make the playoffs and I’d rather their first foray into this dynamic was in a season when nothing was expected of them. Can you imagine if they were a consistent top four team all season long, make the playoffs with home court and then drew the Lakers in the first round in only their first time in the playoffs? Any Lakers team with playoff veterans such as Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol (in spite of their inept head coach) would destroy a rookie playoff team in Salt Lake. So I am happy they are here this year.
And to those of you who would have liked a lottery pick, I don’t know what that pick would do for this team next year. There wouldn’t be room to contribute and most draft picks that come after the first ten rarely become regular contributors in an NBA rotation anyway. So I’ll take the playoffs and hope the Warriors eat some serious karma on May 30 and land the 8th pick. That will be as good as anything else to me this season. (I sure hope that happens or we won’t have a pick in the first round at all.)
So, is it reasonable then to hope for a win tonight in San Antonio? Sure, I don’t think it is a strange thing to hope for a win tonight. I don’t even think it is a strange thing to think the team could win tonight. I’m not holding out much hope. Call my cynical if you want, but this Spurs team is just that good. And what’s even more disconcerting about this team is how they’ve flipped their entire scheme on its head. Where this team used to feed the ball to Tim Duncan and then beat you with unyielding defense, they now play an offense that is as potent as any you’ll ever see. Their efficiency is heads above any other team in the league. They have a point guard in Tony Parker who plays the pick and roll as well as anyone in recent memory. Duncan sets a picks with one foot in the paint and then rolls for an easy bucket. Or maybe Parker keeps it and hits a 6 – 12 footer with ease. Or maybe another player sets the pick and the pops out for an easy jump shot or makes that extra pass to the perimeter where any number of guys are hitting 3s in the 40% range lately. They have so many options and play such team basketball, led by the original “Big 3” in Parker, Duncan, and Manu Ginobli, they are just so hard to game plan for.
So how do they get that win tonight? They have to hedge the pick and roll better and force Parker into longer jump shots. They need to zone the lane better and sooner and be engaged in stopping the dribble penetration by Parker. As much as I want to scream that they need to stop the 3 better, they just can’t take care of what the Big 3 do and stop the 3 and as it is a lower percentage shot, you have to take a chance that by throwing off the game plan just a little bit that the shooters won’t have their rhythm. But how do you get that to happen? Well, lets just say I wish it were my problem to deal with and then I’d get to be the one sporting the sweet suits on the sideline and making some serious cash at the same time.