I’m really hard on the Jazz and always have been, but after looking on Twitter and Facebook this last week, all the comments are that the “Jazz suck” and “Jazz have zero percent chance to make the playoffs.” The ladder is leaning towards being true but the race is far from over. The Jazz next 6 out of 7 games are against potential playoff teams and could really determine if they will fight to the end. After watching this past road trip I saw a lot of progress that hasn’t been there all season. Minus the Knicks game (which loss could’ve been due to fatigue), the Jazz played 3 hard fought games that just turned out the wrong way. Here are 3 things that the Jazz can take as positives from this week:
1.Kanter has shown he can play against the best.
After his stellar performance against the Bobcats (23 pts and 22 boards), I was curious to see if Corbin would give Kanter more time and even more curious to see if he could continue that strong performance on the road and against better competition. He did just that, maybe not 23 and 22 but a string of very strong play. He averaged 14 points on 24-39 shots (61.5%), pulled down 7 boards and hit his first career 3 point field goal. He will shoot them in the future because he hits them consistently in warm ups every game. All in all Kanter is showing that if we move on from Jefferson we will be more than okay without him.
2. Fight on the road had the Jazz in 3 of the 4 games.
The last time any team had lost 3 games by a combined 5 points or less was back in 2009 when the Bucks did it. Basically that means that the Jazz had really bad luck and really should’ve won all 3. Melt down in Cleveland, 3 by Jennings to tie it and a Bellinelli 3 to lose by 1 is expected maybe over the course of a season but 3 straight games is unheard of. The Jazz fought though, period. Most games this season on the road have felt more like the Knicks game without the other team hitting so many shots. They were in all of them and they just need to find their closer which I believe could be Burks one day and/or Hayward with enough practice.
3. Hayward, Burks, Kanter and Favors all had more minutes and performed.
The young guys all averaged 6 to 9 more minutes a game during this trip than what they have averaged for the season. This is great news because that means Corbin is trusting them which is what fans have been asking for all season. Who knows everybody might be gone next year and these four might be starting (fingers crossed). Until that day comes though it is good to see them getting quality meaningful minutes that can really give a guy the experience they need to jump to the next level and be consistent doing so. Someone might look back and say that by playing the young guys they lost those close games. Maybe so but their plus/minus on the court says otherwise and the fight on the road starts with these guys.