By Mark Milligan Jr
Nov. 28, 2018
Image via The Edwardsville Intelligencer
I don’t mean to throw shade at Brooklyn, but holy cow how the Jazz need a break. If ever one was overdue, it’s now! Before the season began, many recognized Utah’s early schedule as one of, if not THE most difficult. It was going to be one competitive night after another with very rare easy games thrown in few and far between. It was going to be one long, difficult stretch after another trying to make it to those sparse nights where the team could catch their breath and regroup.
Then the season began, along with the frustrations as we watched our team lose to supposedly (at the time) lesser teams like Memphis twice, then Dallas, and Sacramento. I think I can speak for most fans when I express what we were all thinking. “These were supposed to be the easy ones! What’s wrong with our team?!”
Well, as it turns out, Utah wasn’t losing to easy teams. They were simply caught off guard – along with the rest of the league. Nobody saw the Grizzlies, Mavs, Clippers, or Kings coming and at the time, we didn’t realize our schedule had just gotten even more difficult than we anticipated! Those few easy games became even fewer. So few, in fact, that tonight’s game against Brooklyn is the very first game against a non-“quality team” (according to David Locke) that the Jazz will have had since the season began, MORE THAN A QUARTER OF THE WAY THROUGH THE SEASON!!
With a stretch that insane, the damage is greater than the sum of its parts. It’s not just about playing against individual tough teams anymore. At this point, the losses build on each other. The exhaustion spills into the next game and the next game after that. Quin and company are trying to fix problems and implement adjustments on the fly without having the time to truly fix what’s broken, including learning how to defend against this year’s Freedom of Movement rule. This far into the season without an “easy” game, well, let’s just say the Jazz have never been happier to see Brooklyn.
Does that mean the Jazz can slack off entirely tonight? No. Anyone in the league can beat you and the team can’t afford another loss, as Utah currently sits 14th in the Western Conference. Yet, at the same time, they’re only 5.5 games out of first place. (The parity across the west is simply unheard of!) The Jazz may not be in panic mode just yet, but I would say they are at a point of being desperate. A game against a non-quality team in which they can prepare by focusing on their own overall improvement (rather than just game-planning specifically for the next opponent), a game in which they can experiment with possible solutions without a bad quarter dooming them to a loss, a game where they can put it away early and keep all players under 30 minutes, a game in which the Jazz can start some momentum, a game in which the Jazz can regroup… it’s as overdue as it ever has been.
Brooklyn has never been such a pretty sight.
Featured image via Getty Images