Sunday , May , 04 , 2008 Basketball John

Mr. Williams, Utah Jazz Ready for Round Two

Mr. Williams, Utah Jazz Ready for Round Two

It’s Deron.  Mr. Williams if you’re nasty.

There are a lot of great players in the NBA.  A lot of players can put the ball in the basket and got make flashy passes.  But the playoffs seem to separate the elite players from the great.  They separate themselves by doing seemingly whatever it takes to win.  And they’re evaluating several scenarios in a split second and most of the time choose the right one.  And it’s in the playoffs where the stars and faces of the NBA are born.

Despite last year’s deep run in the playoffs,  Deron Williams took a back seat to Chris Paul this year.  That’s another thing about thing about the playoffs.  No one cares what you did last year.  It’s all about who’s making their name this year.

DWill is on his way again to putting his name back in the national light as he lit up the depleted Rockets to help the Jazz win the series from Houston.  Deron made a halftime adjustment that won the game for the Jazz.  In the first half he primarily a distributor setting up other Jazz men.  But after Alston went out with a severe sprain, Williams smelt blood and took over the game.

After the Jazz squandered a 19-point first half lead, Deron nailed a three pointer to end the second quarter to push the lead back to four.  And it was more of the same in the second half.  With Alston out, neither Bobby Jackson nor Aaron Brooks could stop #8.  Deron had four three point shots in the third quarter that led Utah’s 19-5 run that put the game away.  His now patented step-back three point shot was indefensible.  He finished with 25 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds to pace the Jazz offense which finally got back on track.

The offense had 7 players with double digits again.  Boozer was solid to start with and gave us 15.  Okur had a great game with 19 & 13.  Brewer chipped in 13 while Kirilenko scored 11.  And Korver and Harp came off the bench to add 10 apiece.  After going 2-29?  in the last two game from the arc, the Jazz nailed 10-22 this time around.  And each of them seemed to be huge.  I guess you could ask are there any threes that aren’t huge?  Yes.  McGrady had a couple of pad-statting threes at the end of the game that didn’t mean a thing.

In fact, most of his 40 points were meaningless.  That’s because he didn’t have anyone that could score outside of Scola.  And when Alston went down, that did them in.  I don’t think even having Alston play the second half would have made a difference.  The score would have been closer than 113-91, but we probably still would have had a Jazz victory.

So while McGrady won’t get blamed for not making it out of the first round again, it still hangs over his head.  By scoring 40 it will look like it wasn’t his fault.  And to a point it’s not.  But you would never hear any other superstar players not accept blame for a series defeat even if his team wasn’t at a 100%.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite with most players.  They state that they wish they would have done more.  And they certainly don’t throw their team mates and coach under the bus.  I sure hope we don’t play them again in the first round next year because I’m tired of hearing about this.

And the one more noticeable thing about this game was the stellar D from the Jazz.  Houston shot just 39% and 26% from the three-point line.  The only reason this game wasn’t even more embarrassing for the Rockets was their 36 trips to the line.  It seems to be that the Jazz get more confidence from great D than they do hitting a couple of threes.  When they built the 19-point lead in the first half, they were getting every loose ball, the majority of the boards, and steals that would lead to easy points.  When you know you can shut down a team, you take a little pressure off of yourselves on the offensive end.  When you see good D, you usually see the offense flowing as designed.

So now we can put the Rocket’s squarely in the rear and look forward to LA.  They’re going to be tougher than the Rockets but I like the Jazz as the underdogs.  And I’m glad they don’t have time off between series.  The Jazz had a five-day layoff after beating the Warriors last year.  They then proceeded to get walloped by the Spurs.  Everyone on the team is young and they should be used to playing 90+ games.  They take a lot of mo and confidence into the series.  There will be subplots galore.  From Fisher to Kobe and more, this will be a great series.

And what’s the percentage of playing the team in the playoffs that one of your former players went to?  Last year we play GS in the second round the year after Fisher was traded from GS to Utah.  And now we’re playing LA after Fisher was allowed to walk away from his contract.  I say we remember that in the off season when thinking about who to trade a player to.  That means if we ship someone off to Detroit, we’ll meet up with them in the finals.

Lots to come in the upcoming series.

In the words of the great Jazz fans at the ESA last night, “Beat LA!  Beat LA!”

Other notes,

  • Scola offensive forearms – 22435.  Number of fouls called, 5.  But they were all on Boozer.
  • We’re just barely getting out of the first round?  Doesn’t it feel like we’ve played at least 3 already?  The NBA, where playoff scheduling happens.
  • The Jazz are now 2-0 at home without the white shirts for the fans.  Let’s keep it that way.
  • T-Mac stated that Deron fed off the crowd.  Weird, I thought he fed off the thin air.
  • Some of the best signs of the year.
  • YouTube videos didn’t work and I’m too late to embed these all.  Here are the Veoh videos.