Sunday, March 29, 2009

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again . . .

Remember this last week, where the Jazz could make a powerful statement by beating the Houston Rockets at home, then turn around the next night and beat the Suns on the road? Well, that didn't happen . . . after a very solid home win the Jazz worked hard and ended up pissing the game away. (Which has pretty much been their style this season) The Jazz followed that up by nearly losing at home to those very same Suns. Anyway, fast forward to this week and now the Jazz get a chance to play the Knicks at home and turn around and try to win one of the last remaining back-to-back sets of the season, by going into the dragon's lair in Portland. Portland is basically as awesome at home as the Jazz are. It's not going to be easy . . . but you figure with the law of averages and all, that the Jazz will end up winning some road games.

The Jazz are either going to get it right some day now, or the entire season will have been an exercise in futility. (If we were going to be so mediocre, why not play Kosta and Kyrylo more?) It's simple. It's basketball. That's all it is: winning or losing. I didn't want this season to play out like it has, but it's not over yet. C'mon Jazz, let's win some road games!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

. . . Of Mice and Millsap

Okay, this is beginning to bug me. No, that's not entirely accurate -- this has been bugging me to no end this season. Let's make something perfectly clear, I think that Paul Millsap is a hard working, leave it on the floor type of guy who is one of the best back-up power forwards in the league. He's clearly not a starter, and he's clearly not an All-Star or Superstar. As a result, his pecking order of importance remains low. Sure, he would start for a number of teams in the league right now, but he doesn't play for a number of teams in the league right now, he plays for the Utah Jazz. Paul is a good player, but he is a limited player. I have no delusion of him being in the same breath as people like KG, Duncan or Dirk.

That said, he plays hard, really hard. (He has to because he's "undersized", or at least that's what the genius draft scouts thought of him) He boxes his man out, and he crashes the glass. He hustles on defense and has good hands. He has expanded his offensive game to include post up moves and face up moves. He makes really hard cuts to the basket, moving with such quickness and momentum that no guy his size (save for LeBron) is capable of. And on this team with such pass happy line-ups like Deron Williams (10.5 apg), Andrei Kirilenko (2.8 apg) and Ronnie Brewer (2.2 apg) he often gets rewarded with the ball in scoring position.

That's where things kind of break down though.

Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap (24) sits on the floor, at the EnergySolutions Arena Saturday, November 29, 2008   Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune 
 He gets rewarded with the ball, and he's a great finisher around the basket, 60.7% according to his HotSpot, but with his extended playing time this season (and expanded role) he has not been given a requisite expanded respect from the refs. I'm not asking for him to get to the line at the same rate as Karl Malone, but I am asking for him to be getting to the line when he's obviously fouled. He's not in the layup missing business (that's Matt Harpring), but over the last few games I've seen him drive a number of times a game, get hacked, miss layups, and be put on his ass in the process. It's pretty hard to put a guy his size on his ass -- and he's not in the flopping business either (Jarron Collins, Andrei Kirilenko, Matt Harpring and Mehmet Okur all flop on the Jazz but not 'Sap), so that's not why he's missing shots and being put to the floor. It's because he's being fouled.


Even Jerry Sloan in his advanced age still gets fired up enough about it to yell at the refs -- even though he's mellowed out quite a bit this season.


This didn't just happen by itself Millsap is getting beat up this season with his playing style and he's not getting to the line as much as he should be. He shoots 4.3 Free Throws per game. That's 5th on the team, even though his role this season and play suggests that it should be higher than that. By the way, here's a list of guys who get to the Free Throw Line more often than Paul does this season, ask yourself if these guys play harder than Millsap when you go over each name: Ramon Sessions, Hakim Warrick, Marvin Williams, Lou Williams, Emeka Okafor, John Salmons, Eric Gordon (a rookie on a crappy team), Russell Westbrook (another rookie on a crappy team) . . . I could go on, but I'm not going to. Jumpshooters and rookie guards on bad teams get to the FT line more than a 3rd year vet who started most of the season, and plays inside and shoots the ball almost exclusively inside. Okafor isn't that great on offense, but he gets to the line more -- and don't even get me started on Warrick either . . . dude flat out is inferior to Paul Millsap in so many ways.

I'm not just complaining about all the times that Millsap is hacked and misses the layup though, he misses out on so many 'And-One' plays during the course of the season as well. Young guys like Wilson Chandler and Brook Lopez get more And-Ones, as do shrimpy guards like T.J. Ford. Even weak wristed guys like Kevin Martin, who has never gone into the paint in his life, have more And-Ones than Millsap does -- though we've all seen 'Sap get fouled on shots he somehow makes. The lunacy of all of this is bordering on the Chewbacca Defense level of insanity:

Chewbacca Defense - Click here for another funny movie.

Seriously, if Paul Millsap -- a power forward who shoots 60+ fg% from inside goes inside, and misses more than 40% of the time, and there is no foul called, that does not make sense.

Nor am I asking for special rules for Millsap . . . he's not someone like Wilt, Shaq or Yao who needs a new standard of rules to judge him, he's a normal sized NBA guy who plays inside and makes shots at a high rate -- some of his misses happen to be missed calls. (Often with the baseline ref standing right there) His name recognition / pecking order probably hurts him here, but I'd like to see fouls being called fouls more than superstars being able to do what they want with impunity. (or even non-stars . . . Brevin Knight has a solid veteran reputation, but a lot of times when he gets on the ball steals he is fouling the hell out of the guy he is defending . . . so yeah, I know when Jazz players foul as well)

Perhaps it's not just a Millsap thing though, Chris Paul gets to the line 2 more times per game than Deron Williams . . . even though Deron is a more physical guard who takes as much contact on drives as the slight Paul does. (I guess because Deron has the physique of a professional athlete, and not that of an 18 year old co-ed, he doesn't get the calls) Maybe it's a Utah thing then? Probably, but not in the way that we Jazz fans (ever the victim) think -- maybe the refs just accept that the Jazz play a brand of basketball that relies on getting fouled, but they are not allowed to call such a crazy number of fouls every Jazz game (for fear of it looking unequal to the league averages) that they just end up swallowing their whistle on some Jazz offensive attempts.

That may very well be the case, but it does not absolve all the neglected fouling that's going on when Millsap tries to score inside against higher regarded players. It's almost like Leon's character from Above the Rim (Thomas Sheppard) who keeps getting beaten and bloodied up during an important game, yet no fouls are called. It's almost like 'Sap has to get shot at in order to get to the free throw line.

Danger: there's a lot of swearing in the video above.

Anyway, getting to the free throw line is half the battle though, as last nights game showed.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How bad are the Jazz on the road, really?

We've all heard it by now, from Hollinger's daily jabs at our road record, to the talking heads on TV, and especially unruly fans of other teams tapping away on their keyboards on the Internet -- Utah has under-performed on the road this season. As of this article the Jazz are 14-20 on the road. That's a pretty poor mark, one of the worst out of all playoff teams in the Western Conference. If that's all you look at then it's pretty clear: the Jazz are a bad road team.

I'm not satisfied with just looking at that number and making sweeping statements. Let's go a little deeper, shall we? Let's take a look at the games on the road against the Western Conference. (Why am I automatically eliminating the games against the East? Partly because the Jazz right now have to be concerned with the West, and measure themselves against them -- and also because the Jazz end up playing some brutal Eastern Conference Road Trips with 5 games in 7 nights, and always end up running out of gas at the end. Those losses -- like a double overtime loss in Miami where Wade gets all kinds of crazy calls, in the 4th game of a 5 game set -- are not truly indicative of how well or poorly the Jazz can play on the road.) Against the West the Jazz are 9-10 so far. That looks a lot better than 14-20 right off the bat. Additionally, the Jazz are 4-1 in their last five road games against the West. They are getting better -- really anything is better than the 1-6 they put up in January. (more on this later)

So hopefully we've established that Utah sucks on the road vs. the East, and are about .500 against the West -- that's not too shabby. What is shabby is that the Jazz are 0-8 in their games on the road against the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trailblazers, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns. (I'd put New Orleans in this list, but the Jazz have not played them yet at their gym yet this season) Now would be a great time to check out again and be satisfied with this poor record. Not me, though -- there is definitely more to the story than just an 0-8 record.

So far in these 8 games the Jazz have managed to lose every one of them. That's bad. But let's not overlook the fact that each of these 8 games the Jazz were playing in a gym where the home team wins (at the very least) 70% of their games (as per their home records so far this season). In fact, most of the teams the Jazz have lost to end up winning around 77% of their home games, with the Portland team being a stellar 80% on their home court. So it's not like the Jazz were losing games against teams that they were favored to beat.

Secondly, 6 of these 8 games have been the second game in a back to back set for Utah -- and 2 were the 3rd game in 4 nights. So very rarely have the Jazz played one of these amazing home teams when the Jazz were ready for them. One of those three times happened against the Spurs -- and Utah never wins there anyway, so that one hardly even counts anymore. In the other singular occasion the Jazz lost a road game against one of the top teams in the West when Utah was ready for them was a 113-100 drubbing at the hands of the Lakers (you may know them as the reigning Western Conference Champions, and a team that wins 80% of their games over-all). Utah has no shot to beat the Lakers in LA when Utah is healthy, let alone not even playing at full-strength; and this brings it all into the scope of my third point.

Utah played the majority of their road games against these top Western powers all in the same month (5 of the 8 games have been in January) -- it's no surprise that the Jazz lost all of those games. The Jazz were losing home games during that month as well (yes, the Jazz were losing HOME GAMES!). The Jazz went 7 - 8 that month. The Jazz were handed defeats in several blowouts and were losing to the likes of the Oklahoma City Thunder that month, and needed 43 points from Mehmet Okur to down the Indiana Pacers at home. This was not a good month for the Jazz. Why? Injuries.

Yes, injuries can be a valid excuse for losing games -- especially when they have occurred so frequently in one season. Not only have injuries left their mark on the Jazz all season long (it's not absurd to believe that if the Jazz were a few pieces healthier all season long that they would have at the very least 5 less losses, including some more road wins), but their lasting impressions have hurt the Jazz even when guys were available to play in games. As there were a ton of injuries, I'm just going to look at these 7 guys. (Note: these are not the Top 7 guys on the team, as Ronnie Brewer would be up there, but he's been very solid all year long and more importantly, healthy)

  • Deron Williams -- the best player on our team -- finally shook off his pre-season injury last month. Really, the first time D-Will dunked this season seems to be around the All-Star Break, which is an unusually long time for a guy who dunks a few times every month. It's hard to win close games when your best player is only about 70% of his regular self.
  • Kyle Korver has been in a shooting slump all season long (save for the last 2-3 weeks) because he had an injured wrist on his shooting hand. His percentages are far from his career averages this season and dude is finally getting on track. When your best pure shooter is in a season long slump it's hard to win close games down the stretch.
  • The power forward spot (you may know that it's a pretty important spot in the Jazz offense, just ask the #2 all time scorer in NBA History) has been the most hurt all season long.
    • Carlos Boozer (finally playing again after missing more than half the season) is a shell of his former self.
    • Paul Millsap's body was breaking down by the All-Star break and has sustained knee injuries to both knees this season, as well as an eye injury.
    • Andrei Kirilenko is not going to be confused with an Iron Man anytime soon, and has been in and out of the active line-up a bit this season. To make things worse, Jerry Sloan recently revealed that he's mysteriously losing weight and the Jazz don't know what to do about it. (How about buy him a sandwich?)
  • As flawed as he is, Brevin Knight is a veteran point guard who hardly ever turns the ball over and knows how to run an offense . . . when your starting PG is far from 100% you better hope that your back up is good to go. Knight has not been good to go this season (like every other season, and he's a guy who does end up missing a lot of games every year -- hhmmmm, maybe this is why he and AK get along so well?) -- and in the games he has played in he's been playing with his thumb hanging for dear life onto the rest of his hand.
  • When the rest of the team is falling apart, there has always been Memo for the Jazz, but this season even he has been missing games (and broke his streak of consecutive games) and the Jazz have been hurting in games that he plays in when he's not 100%.

Let's first address the game against the Spurs early this season. There's no way I'm suggesting that the Jazz would have walked away with a win in that game, but the Jazz did play it without Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko. Hard to win road games when your three most talented players are out. The only other non back-to-back game the Jazz played was on the road against the Lakers -- and the Jazz did so without their top scorer and rebounder Carlos Boozer. Everyone else played, but they were quite banged up. Two losses where the final score was so disproportionate because of Jazz injuries. (Again, not saying that these would have been wins)

Next up is the 104-106 loss the Jazz had in the valley of the Sun. The Suns were pretty damn healthy for this game, and the Jazz were only bereft of leading scorer and rebounder Carlos Boozer. And they only lost by 2 points. In a road game. On the second night of a back to back. In the 3rd game in 4 nights. I seriously contest that the Jazz would have lost this game if the situation was a little different (either Boozer plays, or it not being a back-to-back, or not the 3rd game in 4 nights). This is a loss that I think is very misleading because it shows another loss (the bottom line), but this game was not similar to getting blown out by the Spurs or Lakers. Having Boozer play would have made us better on offense, and made the bench play that much stronger.

The next game I wish to highlight is the double over time loss in Houston where the Jazz ended up losing 115-120. Yao Ming is awesome. The Jazz were playing this game without Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur and Paul Millsap. Yeah, all three of our most impressive bigmen -- and the Jazz still took the Rockets to double over-time. (Fesenko was awesome in this game) And this game was also the second game in a back to back set. Here again I throw the challenge flag and say that this loss is not evocative of how good or bad Utah really is. This is also not like the Lakers or Spurs games . . . this is most likely a game the Jazz win (especially if you look at how the two teams have played over the last three season . . . Utah usually wins a game in Houston each season).

So four road games into this I feel that the Jazz have a pretty good case to suggest that things could have been 2-2 so far, instead of 0-4. These suggestions don't mean wins, but they do mean that they are not as poor a road team as previously assumed.

The next game against Dallas has the Mavs winning 115-108. Again, the Jazz were without the services of Carlos Boozer. Dallas is a great home team, and this was another one of the second game in a back to back sets and 3rd games in 4 nights sets for the Jazz. No real complaints here.

The final three games (Houston again, Denver and Portland) all happened in a sequence where the Jazz were playing without Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko. Boozer is a very efficient scorer who puts pressure on the other teams' defense and Andrei is a do-it-all utility man who has to guard to other teams' best player -- and usually does a pretty darn good job. In this case he would have defended Artest, Carmelo and Brandon Roy. Instead those three got to feast on C.J. Miles. That's a huge difference. Oh yes, all three games were the 2nd game of a back-to-back for the Jazz as well. And all three were losses -- like every other game listed here.

So, do 8 losses -- each against a great home team, 6 of which happened as the 2nd game in a back-to-back set, and each without Utah's top scorer and rebounder completely accurate in describing the Jazz as a horrible road team?

I say no.

The Jazz have some great opportunities to prove me right, starting with tonight in Phoenix for example.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Busy today . . .

Expect some stats tomorrow . . . a lot of stats.


ps. Hawks did what they had to do, Utah shouldn't have even been in that game with how poorly they were playing in the 1st half. Still, no back-to-back road games in the playoffs . . . and no games that start 7 pm eastern standard time either.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rational Jazz Blogger Roundtable 1: Playoffs, Player evaluations & Jazz fan reputations

Utah is doing quite well right now. The Jazz appear to have pulled it together and are winning games. Through it all the Jazz fans have stood by their team. Utah Jazz fans are regarded all over the league as loud, fanatic, and help make life difficult for road teams. Beyond the home games the Jazz fan diaspora has become quite active on the Internet and over the past 2 years have an established a very solid blogging presence. Jazz fans are also among the most hated by other teams' fanbases. There are a number of reasons why, and part of the reason for this round table to was to actually explore this. Some say that we Jazz fans are big-time homers -- yet as you'll read none of the people who took part in this roundtable feel like the MVP of the league can only be a Jazz player; or that the Jazz players themselves are without flaws. Furthermore, we're highly critical of our team, and know where we stand in the West -- we aren't as big a group of homers as you think we are. Anyway, in this roundtable we discuss playoffs, player evaluations, and the reputation that Jazz fans have on the Internet.

Chronology Note: These questions were posed and answered around February 11th, 2009 (before the All-Star Break -- and before wins against the Lakers, Celtics, and so forth). Back then the Jazz were: mired as either the 8th or 9th seed in the west; way behind in the division; were not healthy at all; and not dominating teams like we are now. Since the time these questions were posed many things have changed in the NBA. Some teams got hot, some teams went cold. Some players (like D-Wade) have gone nuts and put themselves in the MVP race.Today the Jazz have put together a nice streak of wins, and control their destiny the rest of the way.

Roundtable Participants:

Basketball John [SLC Dunk] | UtesFan89 [Jazzardous Materials] | Moni [Living & Dying by the Jazz] | Spencer [Utah Jazz Blog] | Amar [All That Jazz]

Ready or not, here we go.....

1. The Jazz will (or will not) make the playoffs this year because: 

Andrei sends Paus stuff back in Game 3 Basketball John: It's a little easier to say this now, but the Jazz definitely make the playoffs this year.  They're playing the best ball of the year and now they have everyone back healthy. There's no reason why they should miss the playoffs.

UtesFan89: The Jazz will make the playoffs because they will finally learn how to stay healthy and finally get going. Plus, Deron won't let them miss the playoffs.

Moni: [They] will, because it’s someone else’s turn to have all the bad luck. Or because even if we don’t get AK or Boozer back and assuming no one else gets injured, I think we still have a better second half (actually 29 games) than at least one of the following: Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, and NO.

Spencer: They will because we are peaking at the right time

Amar: Utah will make the playoffs because they are right in the thick of things right now (even with all the injuries this season), have a number of games against the teams ahead of them in the standings still to come (thus, a chance to make up ground), and are getting healthy finally. A low seed is available, and the Jazz still have an outside shot at the division.

2. What teams in the West are the Jazz capable of beating (when healthy) in a playoff series? Can they beat any of those teams without being a full strength? 

Basketball John: They do have to be at full strength. They obviously have played well without Boozer, but in a playoff series that completely changes. I think they're capable of beating anybody. But I don't think they're likely to beat the Lakers. They would also have a difficult time against the Spurs because, well, they're the Spurs. Until we win there more than once per decade, that's how it will be.

UtesFan89: Well, the bottom of the West, but they won't make it. If healthy, they can run with anybody... save maybe the Spurs if the Spurs have home court. If not healthy (I'm guessing you mean like now)... the top teams (LA, SA) will be hard, but as they just proved, they can run with anyone if they feel like it.

Moni: I’d say all of them except the Spurs. I assume you mean Playoff-bound teams in the West, or I might have to add the Pesky Timberwolves to the “can’t beat” list. We’ve won against six of the eight other Playoff-bound teams at partial strength, so it’s possible, though not necessarily likely. As long as we have DWill, we can take NO, AK or no AK, Boozer or no Boozer.

Spencer: The Jazz can, not will, but can  beat any team in a seven game series if they are healthy.

Amar: No teams in the west scare me in a 7 game series except the LA Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. I think that the Jazz can beat the Nuggets, Hornets, Rockets and Mavs without being healthy – but it depends on who is out, losing Boozer and only Boozer hurts the Jazz, but not as much as losing Deron would.

3. The key to the rest of the season is:

a) Deron Williams

b) Health – because we need our starters healthy

c) Health – because we need the bench playing together again

d) Winning road games

e) a massive brawl during the next Nuggets / Blazers game

Basketball John: f) All of the above.

UtesFan89: d) Winning road games. All of them would be huge, but if you can't win on the road, the playoffs will be a quick out.

Moni: The key is consistency, so a combination of b) and c). It might just be a mental thing, but I imagine that the game flows much better when you’re used to being on the court with the same guys night in and night out, build up chemistry within set lineups, and have a keen awareness of those guys’ strengths and weaknesses. This is particularly true for the Jazz because of Jerry’s [normal] substitution patterns. Once they get everyone back and into the “normal” rotations, winning road games will follow because the Jazz have to be one of the deepest teams in the league at full strength. DWill will be DWill. (Of course, I’d relish “e.” I love a good NBA fight as long as it doesn’t involve the Jazz.)

Spencer:   a) Deron Williams

Amar: all the answers are valid, and come together to form a greater whole than the sum of their parts but I’m going to go with c) here. Early in the season (you know, back when we were 5-0) the Jazz won games because the bench unit was together, healthy, and vastly better than their counterparts on the other teams. Previous seasons the Jazz bench was like a rusty rowboat with holes in it compared to the luxury yacht that was the starters – and whatever slim lead the starters would get would slowly erode with the bench in the game. This was no longer the case (when we were healthy) as the Jazz were able to extend leads making life easier for the starters. On paper this is one of the biggest assets this team has over previous Jazz teams – having a healthy bench unit means that our starters can focus on starting and finishing, instead of having to play the entire game and have nothing left in the tank to seal the deal.

4. Strategy for the rest of this season: a) develop younger players or b) try to win every regular season game possible with veteran play?

Basketball John: I think we're in a win it now mode because who knows what's going to happen this offseason.  The youngsters got some time with all of the injuries, but we really need to win to get home-court.

UtesFan89: c) Both of the above. You can win & develop talent. I'm not asking for 40+ minutes for Almond & Fesenko & The Koof. But some time (I mean, what did The Koof do to deserve the doghouse now?) would be nice... especially when injuries have really cut down on the number of healthy players.

Moni: b), for selfish reasons. It ruins my day when the Jazz lose, and everyone around me suffers. (Jazz/NBA games are on in the morning over here, so when I say it ruins my day when they lose, it literally is the entire day.)

Spencer: b) try to win every regular season game possible with veteran play

Amar: b) has to be the answer here, there’s too much uncertainty this off-season – and we’re still in the playoff hunt right now, there’s no reason to tank and play guys like Kosta and Fes 30 mpg. Sure, that may make them better players in the long run, but at the expense of this season’s potential franchise successes.

5. Define “Title Contender”, and do the Jazz satisfy the criteria from your definition?

Basketball John: You have to be able to go deep into the playoffs.  In order to do that you have to be able to step it up on D every night.  Most teams can score, but not everyone can defend.  Right now the Jazz are in the middle of the pack defensive-wise.  Over their last 9 wins, they're holding opponents to 93 points a game.  I've been pretty impressed with the defensive effort lately.  Maybe something has finally clicked with the team.  We'll see how long they can keep it up.

UtesFan89: Title contender: Any team still mathematically alive for the playoffs (where it depends on who shows up... at least until the refs take over) and that isn't tanking games for a higher draft pick. Or trading away good players to clear cap in anticipation of losing out in the LeBron James sweepstakes. Get to the playoffs, and it's all about match-ups and luck and whoever plays harder. Yes, the Jazz fit this.

Moni: Focus, full commitment to the same strategy/goal, full commitment to defense—across the board from 1 to 12.

As the Jazz are constituted presently, no. At the beginning of the season, I really thought this was going to be the Jazz (and DWill)’s year. Of course, this was before the ESA turned into a triage site. So perhaps due to injury and perhaps because we have a lot of young guys (not named DWill), we have problems with all of the things I mentioned above.

Gregg Popovich said something once that’s stuck with me since I heard it. When asked to describe “the perfect Spur,” he said, “Guys that have gotten over themselves.” The Spurs have done a good job of assembling a roster of guys that fit that description, and that’s one of the reasons they’re so consistent and contenders every year. There is more than one guy on our roster that looks for his own shot above all else, outside the offense, with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. There is at least one guy on our roster that couldn’t possibly be less committed to the concept of defense. Until those change, I don’t think we can win it all.

Spencer: Nobody wants to see the Jazz in Round one especially the Lakers.

Amar: I think that a ‘contender’ and a ‘playoff team’ are not the same thing. Even if you do win over 7 playoff games (on average) like the Jazz do, that does not make them a serious threat to win the title. To be a title contender you have to win games against good teams at home decisively and be able to win hard games against good teams on the road. You’re not a title contender if you aren’t one of the top teams in your conference from October through to May. Utah is a nice team, with a tough as nails coach and a very great home crowd . . . but they aren’t ‘there’ yet. They will be in the future though.

6. What teams are clearly better than the Jazz right now?

Jazz go to the finals if all three of these guys get injured in the playoffs
The Jazz go to the finals if all three of these guys get injured in the playoffs

Basketball John: You have to go with the Lakers/Spurs in the west.  The Celtics are a better team.  Though it will be interesting to see what effect Marbury has on them now.  And Cleveland/Orlando are right there.  I think the Jazz could still take most of them in a 7-game series.

UtesFan89: Well, there are 7 teams in the West with better records than us, and 4 teams in the East (Atlanta!!?). That said, if the Jazz are at home, they could beat anyone. Lets go with the Kobes, Cavs & Celtics. Maybe the Magic & Spurs too.

Moni: -Clearly- better? The Spurs. Maybe the Celtics, but the deadline for this is before the game so I can’t say for sure.

Spencer: Lakers, Spurs, Nuggets, Portland

Amar: Lakers, Spurs, Boston, Cleveland

7. What highly regarded teams are the Jazz in the same neighborhood of?

Basketball John: It's hard to say because we've just barely got everyone back together and we haven't seen them play for any extended time yet.  If they play like they have been in the last 10 games, then I would say they are as good as any.  Of course, a lot of those games were at home.  We'll get to see soon just how good they are when they head out on the road.

UtesFan89: Portland & Denver. Dallas?

Moni: At full strength, all of them. (The sad thing is, we may never know how far this team could have gone because the salary cap situation means that there will probably be some major changes to the roster this summer.) At partial strength, I still think we’re as good or better than Phoenix, Dallas, NO, and Houston in the West and at least the bottom 5 Playoff teams in the East. I’ve also believed and known for years that we own the Midwest Northwest Division, so I have to add Denver to that list as well.

To me, the X-factor is AK. When he’s on the court, he does so much to improve the Jazz offensively AND defensively. If we have AK and are only missing Boozer, and Sap had a nice, restful spa vacation over the break, I like our chances against anyone.

Amar: Maybe Portland and Orlando

8. What popular teams are the Jazz better than?

T-Mac and Melo have worse teams than the Jazz, yet their teams are way more popular Basketball John: Popular?  I think with the team now, we're better than Denver, NO, and Portland.  

UtesFan89: The Suns. Though they're only popular because they have Amare on the block. The Hornets. The Rockets... especially if T-Mac is out as is being rumored. Dallas.

Moni: I’m not sure which teams are the “popular” ones. The Lakers and now the Celtics have the most bandwagon fans, and Cleveland, Denver, and Houston are popular because of one player. I guess it depends on whether we’re at full or partial strength, so refer to my answer for #7.

Amar: (homer hat on) Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Dallas, New Orleans . . . probably also Portland

9. MVP of the NBA this season is?

King James Basketball John: Has to be LeBron.

UtesFan89: The head coach of the Hawks.

Moni: I don’t really follow other teams, but it seems to me that there’s no one clear-cut MVP candidate at this point in time.

Spencer: Kobe, LeBron that's your only options

Amar: LeBron James

10. Are any of our players Top 5 at their position? Top 10? Top 15?

Dunking with two hands Basketball John: Deron is top 2 point guard. Carlos, when healthy is a top 5 PF. Memo is probably a top 10 center just off the top of my head. I didn't do any research into that. AK is a top 5 6th man if that's a position. Millsap is up there as a 6th man as well.

UtesFan89: Deron is a top-5 PG. Okur is a top-10 or 15 C. Booze is a top-5 PF if healthy. 'Sap is a top-5 bench player, as is AK. Flop is a top-5 flopper.

Moni: PG, Top 5 easy. C, Probably Top 5 and definitely Top 10. I’d say that Sap is a Top 15 PF and AK is a Top 10 PF/SF (not necessarily statistically, but for all the things he does that make the Jazz so much better). And I maintain that Ronnie B is a Top 5 dunker and was absolutely snubbed for the Dunk Contest.

Spencer: Deron #1, Boozer Top Ten, Memo Top Ten

Amar: Deron is Top 5, Memo is Top 5 (really, take a look at it . . . Yao, Shaq, Howard and one other guy are better than what Memo brings to the table with his 19 and 9 plus great shooting and three point range), Boozer is Top 10 when healthy, Brewer is close to Top 15 if you look at his defense. Andrei is up there if you look at guys off the bench.

11. Chris Paul is an absolutely talented, amazing, entertaining franchise player who posts great stats and is an all-around great guy: yes or no.

Totally not a gay picture Basketball John: I would have said yet to all of those up to the last game against the Hornets.  The only one I would question now is the all-around great guy.  I'm not talking about off the court, I'm sure he's excellent in all respects.  Before that game, I've never seen him whine as much and get as pissy with everything.  Every NBA player complains to the refs, but he didn't seem to be very professional in that game.  I don't know what it was.  I just remember thinking that if this had been a playground game, he would have gone home in a fit and taken his ball with him.

UtesFan89: Yes. When healthy.

Moni: I don’t know what kind of guy he is (DWill seems to like him well enough J), but to the rest, yes--from what I’ve seen; like I said, I really don’t watch other teams. He is also the Savior of the NBA and needs to be hyped at every opportunity because he doesn’t get enough attention, poor little guy!

Spencer: Yes, and until this recent stretch by Deron, he was the best point guard in the league. I think Deron is currently the best pg in the league.

Amar: CP3 is all that and a bucket of chicken. He’s also a guy who is improving, he came into the league being called ‘small’ and not having a jump shot but he can now make threes and rebounds great for his size.

12. Can you see the flaws of players on your own team (e.g. Boozer doesn’t play great defense, Harpring is no longer capable of being a solid rotation guy in the NBA, Andrei is fragile and has a shaky jumper, etc)? If so, name some. (you can pick one of the ones I mentioned, but less obvious the better)

Carlos CJ and Harp
These guys aren't perfect in the eyes of Jazz fans . . .

Basketball John: Boozer hasn't been around enough to see if his D has improved. I would have agreed with the Harp statement at the beginning of the year, but he's been fantastic for the past several weeks now. Andrei isn't fragile and his jumper has been pretty consistent. As far as flaws for players though, here you go:  Deron - too many turnovers. Ronnie B - was going to say jumper, but he's been nailing the mid-range j's lately.  CJ - Inconsistent as they come.  Memo - Would have 300 more points if he could learn not to step on the three-point line when he shoots.

UtesFan89: CJ is a shoot-first, shoot-second guard, it seems. Brewer has a lot more confidence in his jumper than anyone else. 'Sap might be solid, but he's not Booze inside offensively. And that hurts. Deron has way too many TOs... easy to steal the ball from him, it seems.

Moni: As Ronnie B would say, definitely. Boozer is the main Jazz thorn in my side. His refusal to play D irks me to no end, and from what I can remember (since it’s been so long), I used to completely lose track of what was going on in the game because I was too busy yelling at him to play D. His D is offensive, he commits way too many lazy fouls, he never takes charges, avoids physical contact like the plague, and shoots too many mid-range jumpers rather than working his way into the paint for a higher-percentage shot. He lacks heart, he can’t be trusted, and in his mind, Carlos >>>>>>> team. I don’t know if he really cares about winning, and he talks too much.

Ultimately, the reason that he aggravates me to the extent that he does is because he really has the talent to be great. I’d go so far as to say that he’s more naturally gifted than Malone. Karl became the player that he was through sheer will power and hard work. Boozer shows some amazing footwork (on offense of course) maybe once a game or every other game, and he’s got to be one of the most ambidextrous players in the NBA. But he doesn’t have Malone’s heart or work ethic, and as a Jazz fan I am constantly frustrated and irritated as a result.

I really wish the Jazz would ship him off to Karl’s ranch in Arkansas for a one-on-one summer camp during the off-season and let Karl instill stuff in him.

Ronnie B, CJ, and AK all chuck too much. Ronnie’s FG% is way down from last year, which may just be a product of him not getting easy shots under the basket anymore without anyone to draw the double team. When CJ shoots the 3, I believe it’s going in, but he generally doesn’t do anything but shoot and jacks it up whenever he gets the ball. AK has been brutal from the floor this season. His FG% is decent because he gets a lot of dunks, but check out NBA Hotspots. Cold from pretty much everywhere.

DWill turns the ball over too much, which could be because he’s throwing the ball to guys that aren’t as used to catching his passes. And sometimes in crunch time he passes the ball when he shouldn’t let anyone else have it. That’s about it.

Price is an exciting player but he’s not a PG and shouldn’t be played as such.

Jerry doesn’t yell enough anymore. I want to see him stalking the sidelines, breathing fire at the refs, and getting more Ts.

(I wouldn’t say that what you said about Harp in the question is a “flaw.” Whether he’s still struggling with injury or his body has just broken down irreparably, you know the heart and hustle are still there. Sap has been in the same situation in the past few games, i.e. his body just can’t do what his mind wants to, but I don’t think anyone would call him “flawed.”)

Spencer: Deron is prone to turnovers and gets out of control sometimes (think GS game) and Miles never shows up in the fourth quarter if he plays.

Amar: I don’t want to repeat what everyone else said, but yeah – our team has plenty of flaws. AK sometimes goes for the amazing pass when a normal one would do – resulting in a spectacular turn over. Memo does not put his hands up in the air on defense enough, guys just lay the ball up over him too often. Guys like CJ and Korver miss too many open threes for shooting specialists when they are completely unguarded. Sometimes our entire team gets too jump shot happy, and don’t even try to go in the paint.

13. What’s the reasoning behind calling Jazz fans unclassy, or ‘the worst fans in the NBA’? If this is the case, why are the Jazz such a good home team with such bad fans?

Jazz Fans are unclassy apparently
How dare they show up on time, be loud, and support their team! The barbarians!

Basketball John: It was the booing of Fisher, the supposed racial taunts during the Warriors series, throwing stuff on the court in the Spurs series, and so on. There's no doubting the fans' passion, but it gets misdirected a lot. The Jazz are still a great home team because it's an intimidating atmosphere for other players to come in to. Being "bad" as described above isn't contradictory to being a good home court team.

UtesFan89: Others are jealous of the Jazz fans. And the NBA hates Utah, so anything to make them seem like the bad guys.

Moni: I really don’t know. I assume that a few “unclassy” fans are giving all Jazz fans a bad name. I think that all those anti-Jazz fans out there on the Internet are way unclassier than Jazz fans. (see #15)

Spencer: Never heard this send me some links of this being said.

Amar: I think it’s the case of a few bad (possibly drunk?) apples spoiling the bunch. There was that pic of that guy covering his eye during Derek Fisher free throws last playoffs that was in a sea of other Utah fans who were NOT doing anything rude. Lots of fans on the Internet seem to hate the Jazz fans (perhaps because we are fans of a team that just beat their team?), or call us all homers for supporting the Jazz – instead of joining the band wagon for some other, more popular team. Bad fans, in my book, are those that go to games and are on their cell phone the entire time, or are fans only in the case that they show up to games to be seen as fans. (Paris Hilton goes to Lakers games in a Kobe jersey . . . she shows up after halftime. You Lakers fans have you count her as one of your own) Other fans complain that the Jazz fans boo calls that go against their team, or make life hard for visiting teams. Isn’t this exactly what you want from your home crowd? Lots of comments I read on the net suggest the Jazz crowd are horrible people to the core, if that’s the case, I can only imagine what they would say about the old Boston Celtics’ crowd that would physically intimidate refs into making calls favor their teams. The last comment I want to make is that the Utah crowd gets called out (by fans of other teams) because of the lack of ethnic minorities that go to Jazz games. Look, SLC isn’t as cosmopolitan as places like New York or San Francisco . . . the crowd is going to be made up of the people who live there. I’m an ethnic minority, and if I lived in Utah I’d go to their home games. Does that count? Bringing race into a discussion on if fans are bad because they are mostly white sounds a bit, what’s the word, racist if you ask me.

14. Homer Test: which team wins?

Team A Team B
Dirk Nowitzki Mehmet Okur
Elton Brand Carlos Boozer
Tayshaun Prince Andrei Kirilenko
Trevor Ariza Ronnie Brewer
Chris Paul Deron Williams

Basketball John: That's a pretty even matchup. I guess it would depend on whether the Jazz are at home or not.

UtesFan89: The Jazz. Seriously. Brand would get hurt (as would Booze), leaving us with a 4 on 4. Dirk would get ejected for a foul on AK. Deron owns Paul head-to-head.

Moni: Team B. And that’s without my homer glasses on. Dirk is easily taken out of his game (just give Harp two minutes to work his magic before subbing Memo in), Brand is as if not more injury prone than Boozer, and DWill will do what he does against CP. I don’t know much about Prince or Ariza’s games but I’m pretty sure AK would have no problems against Prince, and playing with the “real” starters, Brewer can get back to doing what he did so well of all last season—cutting and slashing for amazing dunks and acrobatic layups.

Spencer: Team B

Amar: I tried to make these two teams pretty even, including similar play styles and elevating bench guys to play with these units. I’m not going to run down who I think is better in each match-up, but I’d have to say that UtesFan89’s response was hilarious. Taking away familiarity with each other, the easy answer is Team A. (especially if you ask the question to the guys who schedule out the national TV games) CP’s team has better outside shooters, while DW’s team is, well, his team. If you include player familiarity I think Team B wins – but I don’t think that the Jazz lineup is *always* better than a collection of some of the best rotation players on playoff-teams. It just may be in this case. If you had Duncan in there instead of Brand, and a PG that Deron doesn’t own in there, it would easily be Team A.

15. Making fun of the Jazz / Jazz fans based on tired and discriminatory stereotypes (which may or may not be accurate) is condoned . . . yet no one makes fun of other teams / fan bases in similar ways because of some silly double standard: yes or no? (Elaborate / Rant if you want to)

Basketball John: I don't think this applies just to the Jazz or even basketball for that matter. When you want to make fun of other teams/players, most go for the easiest stuff. Everyone has heard all of the Utah stereotypes with Mormons, polygamy, redneck, whatever. It's pretty low-hanging fruit stuff. Same thing though when people go after Lakers fans and Kobe. They'll bring up the Colorado incident. I don't even react when I hear it. Usually when stuff like that is brought up, the Jazz are blowing out their team or something similar. It usually comes out of frustration, and Jazz fans aren't excluded. People know that not everyone in Utah is LDS or that not all Jazz fans even live in Utah. But it's an easy target.  Making fun of the state, the LDS, or any other stereotype doesn't have the backlash in any other facet of life, so I don't know why it would be any different with basketball.

UtesFan89: Yes.

Moni: Of course it is. If other teams/religions/ethnicities had to take the crap that Utah fans have had to put up with over the years, there would be major backlash and media coverage. The comment section of every single Jazz-related post on the Internet is invariably filled with hateful Mormon/bigamy/etc. rants. Same goes for the chatboxes on Jazz games. I’m a huge, huge non-Mormon Jazz fan, and I’ve never been to Utah. None of the players or coaches are Mormon or even from Utah, and the only real tie to Mormonism in the Jazz is LHM, so those types of comments have nothing to do with anything. Not to mention that they’re just plain wrong, ignorant, and hateful, and I really am so sick of it.

Amar: I think that there is a huge double standard that is really ignored, and that’s not cool. I’m not a white missionary for the LDS who happened to be a Jazz fan because of geography or anything like that. I’m a Jazz fan whose parents were both born on the other side of the world, I was born in Canada, and until recently, the only city in the US that I lived in was Los Angeles. Yet I’ve been called all the regular “low hanging” insults just because I like the Jazz. That’s really silly. No one expects all Bulls or Lakers fans to only live in those areas. Similarly, no one disparages other teams’ entire fanbases on such base accusations. No one says that all Knicks fans are snobby Jews, even if so many people who could be called that live in NY. No one calls Miami fans a bunch of illegal immigrants who floated into Miami from banana republics. No one calls Boston fans potato loving, dunk Irishmen. These are racially charged, or religiously pointed comments which are, technically, forms of hate speech. I’m not LDS, but I can see the double standard where a player, media member, or fan of another team can say bad things about certain groups without anyone thinking poorly of them. Dennis Rodman once passed off a poorly played game in Utah because “there were too many Mormons” there. You better bet your butt that if he said something about “too many Jews” there in LA or NYC, where they have a lot of rich, powerful Jewish groups, he would have been fined and suspended by the league office. But because it was Utah, and it was an invisible minority that no one cares to afford the same protections other groups have, nothing was done about it. This is just one of countless examples I can site, but that’s all I’m going to say for this. It’s unfair, and part of the reason why Jazz fans (who participate in forums on the Internet with fans of other teams) may appear to have such a short fuse about this stuff – it’s a double standard that is both wrong and criminal.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Charlie Rosen sez: 'D-Will > CP3'

Don't know how I feel about this one . . . I'm not a fan of Rosen, but he does make statements that I tend to personally believe to be significant factors in the long run. Only time will tell though . . .

Can the Jazz win 50+ games?

Back in the preseason I felt like a's 51 win season was a disrespectful prediction. Especially off the heels of a 54 win season and a trend in increasing wins over the past few years. This season, though, the Jazz have been a veritable M*A*S*H unit, and at times, a 50 win season appeared only in the heads of Jazz homers. As of today the Jazz are 40-23 (good enough for 5th spot in Marc Stein's Power Rankings on's website), and the Northwest Division lead for the first time since November, it seems. Can the Jazz win 50+ games still this season? Let's take a look:

Utah plays 19 more games, so, statistically, the Jazz should reach the 50 win plateau if they win half of their games (a statistical possibility). If you want to use even fishy-er math, the Jazz are winning 63.5% of their games, which is 12 wins in 19 games. These a nice looking projections if we were playing the average NBA schedule. Utah is not, though, and the race to 50+ wins is much harder than just bland statistics.

Utah Jazz vs. The East: 6 games left, 12-12 record

DWade's resume against Utah suggests that he may actually be a part owner of the Jazz Utah plays 6 remaining games against the East and Utah is really bad against the Eastern Conference this season, with more than half of their total losses this season (12) coming at the hands of Eastern foes. Utah projects to win half of the remaining games against the East (3), though it's not guaranteed as 4 of the 6 remaining games are on the road. Tomorrow the Jazz face off against a previously unhealthy Indiana Pacers team (Tuesday, March 10th) in the first game of a back-to-back set; then fly down to Atlanta to face the Hawks (Wednesday, March 11th) for a game that will be the 3rd game in 4 nights. The following two games on this 5 game road trip have the Jazz against the Miami Heat (Saturday, March 14th) and then down in Orlando to face the Magic (Sunday, March 15th). The last two games against the East (until the NBA finals, if we get there) will be at home against the Washington Wizards (Tuesday, March 17th) and at home to the New York Knicks (Monday, March 30th). None of these games can be taken for granted as wins. Indiana has beaten all the best teams in the NBA this season on their home court. Atlanta's strengths seem to exploit our weaknesses every season in Georgia it seems. The Jazz are not capable of beating the Heat, as our head-to-head records over the last few years show and Orlando can be crazy good -- they housed us in Utah earlier this season and may want revenge for losing to us on their home court last season. Washington has a bad record and their starting back court (Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson) are both out for the season . . . so this one shouldn't be as bad as it could have been. New York is owed a beat down as well, but I don't know if the Jazz won't be looking past the Knicks in this game as after the game the Jazz fly to Portland for a key Northwest battle the next day. Utah should beat those two teams at home, as they started the season off beating the Jazz. I will be happy if the Jazz win 2 of these games, and bounce off the walls if they win 3.

Utah Jazz vs. The Pacific Division: 5 games left, 10-3 record

Coaching 101 -- easy wins come when you coach the best players in their eras The Jazz play 5 more games this regular season against teams from the left coast. Three are at home, and two on the road. If the playoffs started today the Jazz would only face 1 team from the Pacific Division that would be playing in the 1st round. So by appearances this looks like the easiest group of games for the Jazz to add wins to their record. The Jazz play a home and home series against the Phoenix Suns (at Phoenix on TV on Wednesday, March 25; then in Salt Lake City on Saturday, March 28th). The season series is tied at 1-1 so far, with the home team winning each time. I'd be fine with the Jazz splitting the remaining games, though you never know how the Suns will be playing like, or what they may be playing for at this time of the season. Utah projects to be healthier than them, so should be able to compete in both games. The next two games are home games, hosting the mercurial Golden State Warriors (Saturday, April 11th, 2nd game of a back-to-back -- their pace may hurt us), and pathetic  LA Clippers (Monday, April 13th). Utah has to win both of these games, nothing else needs to be said. The last game of the regular season happens to be in Los Angeles to face the reigning Western Conference Champion Lakers. Utah has a history of losing the last game of the regular season and a history of losing in LA -- so it's hard to see things changing this season. The Lakers may have 1st place all sown up, and the super pretentious dick Phil Jackson may elect to have his team kick our butts just to play a head game / screw us over. As a result, 3 wins are likely, but I would be disappointed with anything less than 4.

Utah Jazz vs. The Southwest Division: 4 games left, 9-5 record

no comment Out of all the Western Conference divisions, this is the one which poses the most problems for the Jazz (or at least, that's what the record shows). The Jazz host the hot, but beatable, Houston Rockets on Tuesday, March 24th. This is the first game of a back-to-back set for the Jazz, but the game is on TNT -- and the Jazz are 3-0 this season on TNT. The last three games of the regular season against the Southwest are road games (you probably know that the Jazz win about 40% of their road games). The first is @ New Orleans (Sunday, April 5th), and is the 3rd game in 4 nights, 4th game in 6 nights and 5th game in 7 nights. On one hand, the Hornets have won at least one game against the Jazz over the course of the CP/D-Will eras. On the other hand, the Jazz have won at least one game in New Orleans each season over that same span, and have won 6 of the last 7 games. Something has to give. The next game on the schedule is against the Dallas Mavericks in big D (Wednesday, April 8th). Utah leads the season series 2-1, with the home team winning each time. Dallas takes care of their home court (24-8), but isn't so hot against the Northwest Division (7-6) this season. It will be crunch time for teams when this game is played, so I don't expect a blow out either way. The last game is against the San Antonio Spurs (Friday, April 11th) down in Texas the night before the Jazz fly back to Utah for a game the next night against the fast paced Warriors. If the Jazz win this game it could be counted as a miracle, and movies will be made about it -- as the Jazz haven't won down there since the last millennium. The Jazz should pick up 2 wins here.

Utah Jazz vs. The Northwest Division: 4 games left, 9-3 record

Northwest Rivals Utah plays 4 games against division opponents. So far this season the Jazz have the best division record in the Northwest division (9-3), and the division games left are @ Oklahoma City (Friday, March 20); @ Portland (Tuesday, March 31st); @ Denver (Thursday, April 2nd) and the following night at home against Minnesota (Friday, April 3rd). The Oklahoma City game should be a win, especially if the Jazz are still looking for revenge over the beating the Thunder put down on the Jazz earlier this season. Utah leads the season series against the Thunder 2-1. The games against Denver and Portland are going to be much more difficult. Denver is 23-7 at home and Portland is 26-5 at home. The home team has won each game played between the top three Northwest teams this season, and so far the Jazz lead the series' 2-1 against Denver and Portland -- though they could be all tied up after these games are played. The game against Portland will be the 2nd game in a back to back set for the Jazz, and the 3rd game in 4 nights for Utah. The game against Denver will be the 1st game in a back to back set, not as bad, but still the 3rd game in 4 nights for the Jazz and the 4th game in 6 nights to boot. Utah can win both games, but they may be just as likely to lose both. The final game against a division opponent is at home (where the Jazz win 82% of their games) against the hard to kill Minnesota Timberwolves. The Jazz should win this one, but this game is the 2nd game of a back-to-back set, the 3rd game in four nights, the 4th game in five, and the 5th game in seven nights. That is a lot of cumulative fatigue, if you ask me. In effect, there is only one gimmie game out of these four, even if only two of them are against playoff teams. Utah will win 3 of these games -- but it's hard to predict just which three...

Total Record over last 19 games:

If you add up all the numbers in blue you get 10 wins and 9 losses. This gives the Jazz a final record of exactly 50 games, 1 win less than the projection, and 2 wins less than what they "should" get when looking at their season winning percentage (of today) extrapolated over 19 games. There's some give or take in this, without doing any more math, I can see an error range of 2 games on either side form -- so the Jazz should finish the season with anywhere from 48 to 52 wins this season. That's probably not going to get it done when it comes to getting home court in the first round, or winning the division. Last season that would have put the Jazz in the 7th or 8th seed. John Hollinger seems to feel similarly. The Jazz are 1-10 in road games against teams above .500 this season, and the Jazz play 10 more games against such opponents. While I'm penciling them down for 3 wins, and even that may be too generous as the stats say that the Jazz should lose all of them.

50-32 is a pretty okay record for the Jazz . . . if it's 2006-2007 again. It's not. I think the Jazz can win 50 games, but that may not be a good enough position to actually do something in the playoffs. Utah will need to turn it up if they want to win the division and get a 3rd or 4th seed in the West. They can, but it's not going to be easy.

Carlos Boozer to English Dictionary -- Episode 1

Communication is essential in all group efforts; it doesn't matter if you work at a pizza parlor or a professional sports team -- if your communication skills are lacking then you may actually hurt your team. Carlos Boozer, I've come to believe, speaks his own language. How else can you justify his comments to the press and his in-game chatter? As a result I've taken it upon myself to translate some of what he says into what it means. Here's the first batch, enjoy!

Photographed by Melisa Majchrzak for NBAE / Getty Images 5. "My _______ (injured body part) is fine. I'm ready to play!" Situation: Any given interview with Carlos Boozer that discusses his injury du jour. What this means:

"I'm so unbelievably brittle that at times I can make Tracy McGrady look like Cal Ripken Jr. I fully expect that ______ (injured body part) will never, ever heal, or will be surgically removed in the next few days. The pain I feel is a deep as an ocean. An ocean of pain, if you will. I will never admit that I am going to miss months of action for fear that it may interfere with any potential trades and/or my current contract year aspirations of becoming even more wealthy. In conclusion: don't hold your breath for me to return from my injury."

Example: Pretty much every few months / planned Boozer family vacations during the year.



4. "Memo!!! Get it!!" / "Memo!!! Grab it!!" Situation: Utah Jazz players are on defense and Carlos Boozer has just been beaten by his man, or failed to box out his man, or is himself boxed out and cannot effectively defend the play. There are several variations on this, depending on the in-game situation, for example, sometimes he says "AK!!!! Get it!!" instead of "Memo!!! Get it!!!" What this means:

"Memo! I suck at defense, grab the rebound before the other team gets it / rotate and end up fouling my man -- whom I was unable to stay in front of, yet did not wish to foul on my own!"

Example: Almost every game.



3. "And one!" Situation: Carlos Boozer, or any other Utah Jazz player has just taken a shot in the paint. This is proclaimed at all times: shot goes in, shot doesn't go in, ref calls a foul, ref does not call a foul, there is actually no foul, or there was a legit foul on the play. What this means:

"I wish to suggest strongly that I (or Jazz player who took the shot) was fouled, yet we still were good enough to score -- and I will continue saying this even in the event that the ref does call the foul, or in the event that the ball has no chance to go into the hoop. I'm so good at saying "And One!" that they should be counted as assists."

Example: Boozer scoring against the Golden State Warriors . . . this one is actually an example where the ball goes in, but if you watch as many Jazz games as I do, you know that the ball going in (or an actual foul being committed) is not a prerequisite for this exclamation.


Photo by Melisa Majchrzak for NBAE / Getty Images 2. "Rrraaaaghghaghghahghhhh!" Situation: Any play where Carlos Boozer exerts himself beyond the breaking point of any lesser man, or mortal who ever lived. This can be a tough rebound, a hard finish, or alternatively, whenever Boozer shoots a free throw that so obviously has no chance of going in, that he is forced to deflect some of the attention from the shot to the large man making noises at the free throw line. What this means:

"Hey! Everybody! Don't look at my horrible shot, look at me! I'm really sorry for missing, I usually make them, gimme another try! I can make animal noises!"

Example: A few highlight plays every game, or, 30.3% of his free throw attempts.



1. "Oohh! SH*T!!!" Situation: Carlos Boozer just committed an in-game infraction or otherwise made a bad play / is unable to react to a disadvantageous situation in any meaningful way except to announce that something bad just happened. What this means:

"Something bad just happened."

Example: Just watch this video of Chuck Hayes (of the Houston Rockets) shooting free throws . . .

Saturday, March 7, 2009

In your face, Denver

Seriously . . . today was a crappy day. Crazy rush hour traffic to get to the airport, long flight filled with nagging all the way, end up arriving in Austin, Tx late . . . don't check into the hotel until around 3 am on Saturday (left on Friday), find out that I lost my cell phone somewhere between Detroit and Austin . . . (and it was a fancy $500 dollar phone) . . . but the Jazz beat Denver. So this is good news, and ultimately, a non-crappy ending to a crappy day.

Jazz had to fight for this one, and came from behind to win it. Memo and Boozer had really off shooting nights, but Deron was the hero (as usual). I did not see any of the game, but I did set up my DVR to record it. I will watch it when I get back. Ten in a row, baby!

March 6 2009 - Deron and Booz celebrate [Melissa Majchrzak for NBAE Getty Images]


Friday, March 6, 2009

"That Memo is so hot right now" - Mugatu

Memo Okur and wife Yeliz . . . too bad he's not doing the Blue Steele look here . . . Mehmet Okur, since the start of February, has made 24 of 39 threes. Looks bad, doesn't it? Well, that's 61.538 %. I felt like looking it up because the guys over at Dimemag mentioned how 'great' LeBron is shooting since the All-Star Break from deep (14-30, 46%). Yeah, if LeBron is hot from deep, Memo is an inferno right now -- over a longer stretch of time as well. Memo has upped his three point shooting % to a career high 48.5% for the season with this hot streak . . . that's good enough for 3rd best in the league right now. Also take note that he's not a specialist spot up shooter like guys like Bonner or Murphy, the only guy who has a higher scoring average on that list then Memo is Durant, who is way down to #9, Memo scores inside and out to the tune of over 18 ppg right now. When was the last time a center was in the top 5? Never, right? If you didn't get what that quote is from, it's from the movie Zoolander . . . you can watch part of the running gag here. Hmmm, today seems to be the Will Ferrell Day here at All That Jazz.