BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Jazz Losing Might Actually Be Good for the Playoffs

Facing the Lakers in the first round might be the best match-up for the Jazz...

It looks like the Jazz will be a low seed in the playoffs, and that might not be a bad thing for the Utah Jazz. The goal for the franchise, the players, the coaching staff, and the fan base this season was to win an NBA title. Anything less than an NBA title, and the season should be considered a waste. It is far-fetched to think that the Jazz team, as it is presently constituted, will be back next season. There are just too many free agents, and not enough money to bring everyone back. The 2008-09 season was the season that the Jazz needed to capitalize on the talent on their roster. In the Western Conference there are two teams standing in the way of the Jazz reaching the finals. The Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs are the gatekeepers to the finals.

For the Jazz to reach the finals they must go through one, if not both the Lakers and Spurs. If the Jazz want to win an NBA title, then they should try and play the Lakers when they are the weakest. That time will be in the first round of the playoffs.

The Lakers have the top spot in the West locked up. Yet, they are still trying to secure the top spot throughout the entire league. Currently the Lakers are a game behind Cleveland in the standings, and they still have some difficult games on their schedule. The Lakers face three playoff teams in their final six games. Outside of San Antonio and Boston, the Cavaliers have a easier schedule. This means if the Lakers want home court advantage in the NBA Finals they will have to play until the last game of the season. The Lakers will not be rested going into the first round of the playoffs.

The Jazz also face the Lakers in the last game of the season. Meaning that if they are the eight seed in the Western Conference, they will play three straight away games, at Los Angeles. Utah isn't a great road team, they just don't play well away from Salt Lake City. Yet, it is very difficult to hold home court when any team is forced to play three straight games at home. (If you doubt this look at the record of teams in the NBA finals since going to a 2-3-2 format. The lower seed has only held home court twice since the start of the 2-3-2 format in 1985. The Detroit Pistons in 2004 and the Miami Heat in 2006.) The Jazz will need to try and steal one away from the Lakers on the road. There might not be a better chance of stealing a game then in the first round of the playoffs.

The team facing the Lakers in the first round will also have the advantage of not facing Andrew Bynum at full strength. Bynum will still be trying to come back from injury. One thing that all Jazz fans should know from this season is just how hard it is for teams to gel instantly after a player comes back from injury. The Jazz are still trying to figure out how to play with each other on the court. The unfamiliarity that the Lakers will have with each other on the court in the first round will create an advantage for their opponent. Setting up another chance for a road team to steal a road game in Los Angeles.

Facing the Lakers in the first round will also guarantee that if the Jazz wouldn't have to face the San Antonio Spurs until the Western Conference Finals. Other Western Conference teams match-up better with the Spurs, and the Spurs have shown that they aren't the dominate team that they have been in the past. Although, they have still shown that they dominate the Utah Jazz. If the Jazz were forced to chose between facing the Lakers or the Spurs in the playoffs, then the Jazz would be forced to admit that they match-up better and have a better history when they face the Lakers.

The Lakers will also be stronger in the Western Conference Finals. Bynum will be healthy, they will have figured out how to play with the Bynum on the court. The losses that the Jazz have suffered has raised the chances that they will have the eighth seed in the playoffs. Losing might have given the Jazz their best shot at getting past the Lakers and fulfilling their goal of getting to the NBA finals.

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