Friday, March 6, 2009

Flashback Friday: "WE'RE GOING STREAKING!"

If you're between the ages of 12 and 40, and are a man living in Western society, you should know what I mean. Though, if you don't, there's this video: (totally not safe for work due to full-rear male nudity and frank talk of boudoir activities) (upon further inspection possibly not work safe for another reason: Leah Remini)

Why am I even blogging about this? Well . . . it's because the Utah Jazz are going streaking right now. The Jazz are on the precipice of a 10 game win streak, Frank the Tank would be proud, so would Frank Layden.

Stockton and Malone In the history of the franchise the team has won 10 games straight only 8 times before:

  • 10 in a row during the 1977-1978 season;
  • 10 in a row during the 1993-1994 season;
  • 14 in 1994-1995 [an even more amazing 23-2 at one stretch];
  • 15 TWICE during the 1996-1997 season;
  • 10 games in a row during the 1997-1998 season;
  • 11 games in a row during the 1998-1999 season;
  • and most recently last season, 10 games in 2007-2008

Honorable mention goes out to the 1983-1984 Utah Jazz that only won 8 games in a row, but managed to go 13-1 during a stretch of the season (and followed that up with a 16-3 stretch). The Jazz play the Denver Nuggets tonight and can make it the 9th time in franchise history. If they win, it's great. If they lose, they join the 1989-1990 and 1999-2000 Utah Jazz teams with only 9 wins in a row. The average (over the 35 year history of the franchise) largest win streak in any given season is only 7 games -- a pretty high number, but it could be much higher if it wasn't for those early years where the longest win streaks were only 2-4 games long (4 of the first 10 seasons were like this).

In previous seasons (especially those dominant years of Stockton to Malone back in the mid to late 90s) these streaks included complete road trips against playoff teams, and beating Western powers at home. This streak, admittedly, has been a little different. Sure, this streak happened during the tail end of a difficult period in terms of injuries *and* this streak included wins over the World Champion Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers and the very respectable New Orleans Hornets -- but as many in the blogosphere will tell you, this streak isn't anything to be too happy about. Simply put, these were all games the Jazz were supposed to win. (This is an obtuse statement, how many people really thought that the Jazz would beat the invincible Lakers *and* Celtics? These were not all games the Jazz were supposed to win.)

That said, you still have to win the games, and the Jazz have done that (for the most part, the streak would be 13 wins in a row if they took care of business on the road in Oakland back on February 8th). As a result, I think that this is a pretty big deal . . . it's hard to win 5 games in a row (the Phoenix Suns have yet to do that this season, and they have at least THREE of HOF guys on their roster: Shaq, Nash and Grant Hill), but to win 10 would be awesome.

During this streak the Jazz have played only three games against 'bad' teams. While some may point to those games against Memphis, Minnesota and Sacramento as reasons not to hype up this streak, let's not forget that the Jazz won those three games by an average of 16 points. So they blew out bad teams during this streak, they didn't just scrape by. They also beat title contenders when the Jazz were missing key guys to injuries during this current win streak. The Jazz (playing without top scorer and rebounder Carlos Boozer) were able to beat both the Boston Celtics and New Orleans Hornets. Furthermore the Jazz defeated the mighty LA Lakers without Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko nor Brevin Knight. So the Jazz beat some great teams while they themselves were not healthy.

Others contend still that since a majority of these games have been at home (and scheduled in 'favor' of the Jazz) that these wins shouldn't count. If that's the case, then I propose that you throw out all the losses the Jazz 'earned' on their poorly scheduled road trips as well. Either the schedule is a factor that absolves teams of some losses (and takes away some wins); or the schedule eventually evens out over the course of a season and all wins (and losses) are created equal. Which is it? I'm going for equality.

Hence, this streak is legit . . . especially since this streak isn't just for the sake of winning games, but also evocative of a greater improvement of play by the Jazz. It wasn't but a few weeks ago that the Denver Nuggets were up 6.5 games on the Jazz for the division lead. In what appears to be the blink of an eye the Jazz are now poised to close the gap with the Nuggets for the division lead. A win tonight against the Denver Nuggets will do more than just consummate a 10 game win streak (#9 in franchise history), but also send a message to the rest of the West that the Jazz are going to be major players the rest of the way. The schedule for the rest of this month isn't horrible, and as a result, some would wish for the streak to go to 15 maybe . . . though I'd be happy with 10 right now.

Go Jazz Go!