Ok ladies and gentlemen, this just in, the Utah Jazz are for real!!! They aren't playing around anymore. They are looking to make a statement, and that statement is they are an elite team in the West.
Four straight road games for the Jazz after the All Star break usually spells disaster Utah. The Jazz have failed to reach .500 on the road once this decade, all of the sudden this season the Jazz have become road warriors, 5 straight road wins, a 14-12 record on the road, and this team is starting to come together quite nicely.
One thing that is constant among Elite teams besides All Star players and good defense is maturity and experience. A big knock on the Jazz the past few seasons has been how young they are and that showed whenever the Jazz faced a tough team on the road.
The 2009-2010 Season is a different story however. Utah has grown up before our eyes and that isn't more apparant than in their performances on the road. Anyone who follows the Jazz knows how much of a struggle Utah has had on the road. Not any more.
Utah has grown into a mature, experienced, and most importantly, a united title contender.
Ok, I'll wait for you to stop laughing.
Now that we got that awkward moment out of the way, let’s take a serious look at this.
The knock on the Jazz the past few years has always been their youth and their inability to win big games on the road. That’s why its always been so important for Utah to get home court in at least the First round of the playoffs, because they knew if they had to go on the road they were most likely not going to win the series.
For more than a decade Utah was unable to get a win in San Antonio against the Spurs. This Season, they’ve done it twice. Utah went from never winning on the road against the Spurs to sweeping the series.
Here’s the reality kids, Utah is hitting on all cylinders and are going to be a tough out in the Western Conference Playoffs. If I’m a fan of the Nuggets I’m starting to worry. Utah has moved to within a half game of the Northwest Division lead and a half game ahead of Dallas for the 3rd seed in the West.
Did you get that, the Utah Jazz are Denver loss tonight away from the second seed in the West? Just think about that for a second. At the beginning of the Season when you are talking to your friends about the NBA and who the favorites are, did anybody say the Jazz would be in contention for a top seed in the West?
With the exception of Charles Barkley, nobody in the National media had Utah on their radar screens as a team to beat. After finishing 8th and getting worked in the first round by the eventual champions Lakers, I don’t think anybody would have predicted Utah would be in the position they are in now.
It was pretty clear last Offseason that teams were trying to catch up to the Lakers and made moves in hopes of doing so. San Antonio added Richard Jefferson, Orlando added Vince Carter, Cleveland got Shaq and now Jamison, Boston got Sheed, even LA tried to stay ahead of the game by adding Ron Artest and resigning Lamar Odom.
Utah basically stayed the same, and took a lot of heat for that by the local media, and it was thought that Utah got worst, not better. Utah managed to resign Okur and matched Portland’s offer to Paul Millsap, but they lost Matt Harpring, a gritty physical veteran that this team relied on off the bench.
Yeah, it wasn’t looking good for Utah at the start of the season. What happened? How did Utah seem to become an Elite team in the West without making any major moves and staying basically the same?
You’ve heard me say energy and effort is the reason for their success this season. Yeah that’s part of it. What else?
Yes time, Utah, in an age of Free Agency and the Salary Cap where teams are constantly changing parts, has managed to keep its core together for a few seasons now.
That’s huge people. Huge. Chemistry is so important in the NBA. In a league where everyone is fast, strong and can jump high, Chemistry can lots of times be that X Factor that puts a team over the top.
It’s become apparent that this team likes each other, plays well together, and wants to succeed for one another. When you care about your teammates it becomes important to you not to let your team down and you work harder to make sure that doesn’t happen.
That’s why Deron Williams was so ticked when Utah traded Ronnie Brewer in a move that really doesn’t help this team get any better this season, other than providing Cap relief. He’s pissed because Brewer was his teammate, his family, and he cared about him. He’s not the only one that was unhappy with the move. Thankfully this team is mature enough not to let the trade affect their play.
Utah has become a very close team and they are playing hard for one another.
They don’t just want to win a ring, they want to win a ring for each other.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Utah is a title contender and nobody is talking about them. They play defense, they play hard every game, they’ve matured and gained experience and now they can win on the road.
All I can say for the rest of the NBA is “Watch Out”.
Danny Shapiro is the NBA Director of Content for sportstalkbuzz.com. He lives in Salt Lake City Utah and has followed the Jazz for over 10 years. He’s a diehard Lakers fan and isn’t afraid to tell everyone how much better Kobe is than Lebron. You can also follow Danny on Twitter at DanShap@twitter.com or Facebook under Danny Shapiro. Also, Danny is a competitive Fantasy Sports Manager and loves to answer Fantasy Sports questions. If you would like to reach Danny with your questions you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Written by Danny Shapiro
Danny Shapiro is 26 years old, married and a father to 2 boys, who he hopes one day to play MLB and support him and his wife in their old age. Danny's second love, mistress even, is sports and Danny is living his dream of being a sports writer right now, thanks to Prosportsblogging.com.