So where can I begin with the Utah Jazz? How about looking at the way this weekend has treated them, and the way they have completely fallen off my playoff radar. The Jazz went into Friday night’s game with the Minnesota Timberwolves with hopes of coming away with a victory, but instead they came away feeling like losers with all of their hopes shot. Obviously when the Jazz shook up their team a few weeks back, nobody expected too much out of them, but a playoff berth was not out of the question. After Friday night’s blowout loss to a team who had not won a divisional game in over 15 months, I can confidently say that Utah’s playoff aspirations are officially over. No, they don’t have that little O by their name in the standings (like the Wolves and the Kings have), but they are depleted and out of gas for the final stretch of the season.
We have all seen the Jazz make comebacks after being down, but this is one time where their challenge looks insurmountable. The talent is there, there have been standout performances by certain players, but they just can’t seem to bring it all together in a harmonious fashion. This is where the absence of two leaders like your head coach and your point guard truly shows up. This team has pieces but they have no direction. And when you lack direction, you cannot be an elite team in a competitive league like the NBA.
With the writing on the wall about this season being in ruins, one has to wonder about Ty Corbin’s decision last night against the Chicago Bulls to play his rookies, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, for a combined 18 minutes, whereas he played somebody like Raja Bell for 37. Bell has been less than impressive this season, especially defensively where he is supposed to shine. But the point is, Raja Bell is not part of the long-term plans of this ball club and Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward are. When your team is getting beaten down on the road against one of the best teams in the league, and their chances at making the playoffs are quickly disappearing, it is a perfect time to get your rookies some quality experience. Oh, and it’s not like Hayward and Favors are a couple of chumps either. They have both shown flashes of brilliance, and the ability to play with the “big boys.” With that being said, what was Corbin thinking? I know this is still new for Corbin, but come on!
The worst part about the way things have turned out for the Jazz is that this season was full of so much promise. They have been on the brink of something special for the last few seasons, and I truly believed that this was the year when they were going to break through. I thought the addition of Al Jefferson was going to improve them on both sides of the floor, and I thought that the Lakers being one year older might actually come into play. All of those hopes and dreams were destroyed abruptly when things went south between Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan. And I don’t care what anybody says, there was something that happened between those two that caused the demise of this team. Whether it was one thing or a build-up of many things, something was just not right. And now the Utah Jazz organization is paying the price for it.