Darn That Dream

If you haven't seen it yet, my first post at FreeDarko went up Wednesday morning. I link only because it has some bearing on this post.

Tonight's game between the Jazz and Rockets validated everything I said on FD, and I'm both happy (because I was right) and sad (because it makes Utah less interesting). Let's run through this game really quickly.

The Jazz came out of the gates playing as well as they did on Tuesday night, and, oddly enough, they were also playing the same style. Everything moved quickly on offense; Deron shredded the defense via drive, pass, and shot; AK slid in between defenders; Boozer continued to show that he can lock up the paint at any tempo; and Ronnie Brewer finished and slashed like he knows how. The only player who really doesn't fit into this offensive style is Okur, but I suspect that's at least partly because Sloan doesn't really know what to do with him at this speed. The good news there is that Sloan's a smart guy, so any strong consideration of the issue would yield something productive. My guess is that they could very easily put Memo in a Young Dirk-type roving shooter role, but who knows what would come out of Sloan's seasoned brain.

It's also worth noting that the Jazz can play defense at this speed. Time and Jeff Van Gundy seem to have given running a no-defense stigma, but watching old games makes it clear that a potent offense and steadfast defense aren't mutually exclusive. A coach like Sloan can instill those values into a team without sacrificing points.

The good stuff happened for a little more than half of the first quarter. With around five minutes left in the first quarter, Sloan subbed Matt Harpring (death!) and Jason Hart for AK and Deron. The offense instantly slowed down, the plays developed more slowly, Boozer settled into taking jumpers (this isn't entirely fair -- he had a phenomenal statistical game) and the Rockets crept back and ultimately won the game with moderate ease. Now, some of the credit for that comeback has to go to Houston: they tightened up their defense, and Utah couldn't find an answer for McGrady. But Utah also played right into Houston's hands by stepping off the gas.

Deron Williams obviously has to sit at some point, but Jason Hart is not so terrible that he's incapable of dribbling up the court at high speeds. Harpring (death!) is a different story, but he can still shoot and score. My point is this: yes, the Jazz won't run as well when their best players are out. But this shit works for them, and they'd be foolish not to explore it as a legitimate option. In the FD post, I looked at this issue mostly from a long-term perspective, but the short term still matters here. Utah can stay where they are, utilize half of Kirilenko's skills, and hope for another favorable playoff draw. They can also work around their best players' strengths, dominate for long stretches of games, and become a legitimate force. It might take a little extra work and some critical thinking for their coaching staff, but it's the right move for this roster.

Other news:

- Our Warriors and Lakers previews are now up at We Rite Goode. Wishful thinking is here and realistic expectations are here. The entire preview has been fantastic, so I recommend that you check them all out. Thanks again to WRG for bringing us into the fold.

- The season preview is taking shape. Should be ready by early next week, which I think fits within the suitable preview-posting window.

1 comment:

Crucifictorious said...

This wasn't announcement #2, was it?