by Daniel Olsen
This is a series that will occasionally be done when the author feels it’s time to take a break from the game recap and discuss something important.
Since the All-Star break, the Jazz have been winning every other game. Luckily, it was their night to win on Friday night. They staved off a pesky Raptors team to win their first game ever in Tampa. Jazz players breathed a huge sigh of relief as they won 115-112 in their green earned edition jerseys. It was a game that they truly had to earn.
The question is whether the first place Jazz will find their way or whether they will continue this trend of losing every other game. It time to look at three reasons why they have been inconsistent since the All-Star break.
1. They do not win at a high level anymore
It might not be fair to think the Jazz should win 21 of 23 again like they did in a stretch from January to February. However, they have been a .500 ball club ever since then. They have not put together a win or losing streak. That’s not good or bad. It’s average against a significantly easier schedule than the first half of their season.
The Jazz are capable of being a great team. In order to do so, they will have to get used to the new role of being hunted as the team with the best record. They need to end the road trip with a win in Chicago and get back to their winning ways at home. The Jazz are 16-2 at Vivint Arena and 14-9 outside the friendly confines of Salt Lake City.
2. Inconsistent shooting from Bojan
It’s not fun to single out one beloved Jazz player but it’s time to be real. Bogdanovic was a lifesaver with his two buzzer-beaters last year against Milwaukeee and Houston respectively. However, he has not been the same this year following the wrist surgery. He is a combined 4-21 from the field and 1-13 from three in the two Jazz losses since the All-Star break.
In the wins he still isn’t at full capacity but he is respectable. He has made at least 30 percent of his shots in the Jazz wins. What does this say? He doesn’t need to be terrific to beat average at best teams. He just needs to be respectable. A bad shooting night happens every once in a while. It can’t happen every other game. If the Jazz want to get a good seed and make a run in the playoffs, Bogdanovic will have to be firing on all cylinders. Otherwise, there will be too much pressure on his teammates to carry the load against tough teams.
3. Playing down to opponents
Since the All-Star break, the Jazz have had one double digit win. The victory came over the worst Houston Rockets team in two decades. Keep in mind that neither of the stars (John Wall and Victor Oladipo) were playing. Guys like Kevin Porter Jr. kept the game closer than the final score would indicate.
The Jazz then proceeded to lose by 12 to a fringe playoff team in the Golden State Warriors. They recovered in time to beat the Celtics by nine points on national television. This isn’t the same playoff contender as the Celtics are barely above .500 right now.
The Wizards then cast a spell on the Jazz in a nine point loss for Utah. Russell Westbrook had a triple double and Bradley Beal was able to get anything he wanted. The Wizards, along with the rest of the NBA, are not afraid of the Jazz. Utah is a young team that has never been in this spot before. Other coaches are starting to crack the code and it’s hurting the confidence of the Jazz players.
The Jazz survived a close 115-112 win to a Raptors team that doesn’t even play in its home arena. They are temporarily calling Tampa their home amidst the pandemic. The Jazz won this game thanks to a plus-20 rebounding advantage.
Call to action
The point of this is to call the Jazz to play like they were before the All-Star break. They want to win and that is evident. They just need to be confident and execute their game plan against every team. They have a target on their backs so they need to keep fighting back and show the NBA what kind of respect they want to have. If the Jazz shoot more confidently, play to win every game, and respect every opponent, they will be back to their winning ways and perhaps hold onto their top seed by the time the regular season is over.
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images