May 7, 2012; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Jazz point guard Devin Harris (5) dribbles around San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the second half of game four in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at EnergySolutions Arena. The Spurs defeated the Jazz 87-81 to sweep Utah and win the series. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Maybe the Jazz Weren't that Bad After All!


At least that’s what I got after watching San Antonio completely annihilate a rather good (or at least I thought) Los Angeles Clippers team 105-88 tonight.

By now you’ve chosen who you want to see hoist the crown above their heads at the end of June, but I’m more perplexed than ever.

Of the eight teams remaining, only two have a legitimate championship shot: the Spurs and Oklahoma City (barring a last second Lakers resurgence). Boston will most likely make the trip to the NBA Finals, but the Celtics’ inability to score consistently will likely hamper them against either of the above Western Conference finalists. Indiana, while a great story, probably won’t get passed the Celtics (assuming they beat the Heat); and should LeBron and Wade manage to make their planned Eastern Conference appearance, they have no shot at getting through Boston’s tough defense (with or without Bosh).

In the West, LA will make a good push in Games 3 and 4, but will come up short in one of them. Thus OKC will head back home and most likely close out the deal on their own court (then again, Steve Blake could hit a wide-open 3-pointer at the last second and tie the series heading back to Thunder-ville).

Unfortunately for OKC their next match-up happens to be San Antonio, a team that frustrates with their near-perfect execution, the likes of which I haven’t seen since, well, ever. I’m not sure if Coach Scott Brooks will have enough to stop G-Pop’s juggernaut (seriously, if you haven’t seen the Spurs play go do so now … it’s like watching a friend play 2K12 on a hacked system replete with all the cheats). The Thunder can score, which means the games will be close down the stretch; they also have young, competent guards who defend the outside shot well; and a nice interior presence, but in the end OKC lacks the maturity to handle a very smart opponent.

Which leads me to the purpose of this post: I dogged the Utah Jazz, along with most of the blogging world, during their no-show collapse against San Antonio. I felt they weren’t really trying; and looked completely ridiculous standing toe to toe with the 4-time champs.

Boy was I wrong.

I know we’re only two games into the LA Clippers/Spurs series, but so far Chris Paul and Blake Griffin look depleted; worn down and wishing they had let Memphis take Game 7. Kind of like Utah did by the second half of Game 2.

For me, this is actually pretty good news. If San Antonio goes onto win the championship, then the Jazz lost (once again) to the best team in the league. Nobody thought Utah had a chance during these playoffs, but only because they faced (let me say it again) the best friggin’ team in the entire NBA (barring Chicago, who I thought was better).

So what does that mean exactly? Well, for starters it means the Jazz aren’t so far off from becoming a legitimate Western Conference threat. In all seriousness, of all the teams in the Western Conference, I think the Spurs were perhaps the only team capable of sweeping Utah. The Jazz may not have won many rounds, but it’s likely they could’ve gone the distance against LA (and LA#2), Memphis, OKC, and Denver.

This leads me to another dilemma: who do I cheer for? On the one hand you have San Antonio, a powerful force that will probably win it all. But I detest them to my very core, even though their offensive perfection leaves me drooling like a wild boar. They simply do not miss … other teams pass until they find the open man, but more often than not that open man will miss his open opportunity. The Spurs simply do not miss. I’ve never seen that. Ever. It’s actually quite chilling (especially whenever the camera pans over to G-Pop who stares blankly at the court like a crazed-Vietnam vet plotting out ways to take over the AT&T Arena … “OK Duncan, Ginobili, you take the lower levels; I’m taking out the upper tier … Go Spurs!”). I can’t root for them and feel like a normal man when I wake up in the morning. I tried. Really, I did. The next morning I ended up puking in the toilet for three solid hours, trying to wipe away the horrible flops, the endless no-calls, the flawless execution, those smirks; that bored look plastered to the Spurs players’ faces throughout the game.

Should the Spurs win, though, the Jazz loss may not feel so … how shall I say it? Repugnant?

If the Spurs DO end up losing, however, does that mean I’m wrong in my assessment of Coach Corbin’s squad? Does that mean Utah has years to go before anyone will take them seriously? I mean come on! If the Spurs are number two (or three), who the heck is number one?

I desperately want OKC to win, and so, despite this rant, I’ll probably cheer them on like a raging lunatic, stopping just short of purchasing a James Harden Halloween beard. But I also want to believe Utah is only mere steps away from truly competing in this league … that their 4-game sweep was not in vein.

Come on Spurs, you can do it! But go OKC! Or Indiana …



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Tags: Corbin G-pop Ginobili Jazz Playoffs Lakers Okc Parker Scott Brooks Spurs

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