Monday, March 10, 2008

Utah Jazz: Looking Into The Crystal Ball

If you look in the NBA headlines on most big sports websites, you aren't going to find much news on the Utah Jazz; they have been flying under the radar the entire season, but I don't think that really bothers them.  Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz are 42-22 this season, and unlike many of the other teams in the Western Conference who change playoff positions on a daily basis, have a secure grasp on the 4th seed.  This is mainly because of their four game lead over the second place, Denver Nuggets, in the Northwest division.  Last year the NBA adopted a new rule that if a team in second place in any division has a better record than another division's winner, than that team could become the third seed.  Though this is likely to happen this year, the rule is limited to one team and therefore as long as the Jazz stay in front of the Nuggets they are ensured the 4th seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

The Jazz have an unbelievably balanced distribution of scoring with eight players averaging over eight points per game.  A big part of that is one of the best young point guards in the NBA, Deron Williams, who is averaging 10.3 assists per game.  This season, Utah ranks 5th in the league in scoring (106.3) , 2nd in assists per game (26.5) , and perhaps most impressively 1st in the league in field goal percentage (49.7%) - mainly because of their great shot collection and willingness to give up shots for other open men.  The Utah Jazz sport the best home record in the NBA this season, 28-3, including twenty straight wins at home.  This could prove to be very big in this year's Western Conference playoffs because if the Jazz could protect home-court than playoff series would become much more manageable to win.

Outlook & Predictions:  This Utah Jazz team is good, but they will have to keep playing well to the end of the season, as their last six games of the season are against potential Western Conference playoff teams.  I think the Jazz go 52-30, win the Northwest Division, and enter the playoffs as the Western Conference's 4th seed.  I believe Utah will lose in the second round of the playoffs, but they are definitely one of my dark-horse teams that could make a deep run in the playoffs this season - notice I am not bolding that.

1 comment:

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