Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Wasted Opportunity

Before game 5 I had decided to stick with my original prediction that the Jazz would take this series in six games.  Because of that I had to take off my blue shades and actually pick against the Jazz.  I prefaced it however with the statement that I wouldn't be surprised if the Jazz did win and was hoping they proved me wrong.  I predicted a close game and would have been content had the Jazz at least made a good showing and had given themselves a shot to win it in the last minutes.

The Jazz did prove me wrong but not in the way I had hoped.  Rather than it being a close game the Jazz lost in blowout fashion.  Had they kept it close and at least had a chance in the end I wouldn't call it a wasted opportunity, but based on how it turned out I believe it was just that.

So what went wrong?  

1.  Poor Bench play-  For the first four games of the series the Jazz's bench averaged nearly 23 ppg.  In game five they only scored 9 points as a group.  Two of those points came from Jason Hart who under normal circumstances never sees the court but was in during the garbage minutes.  The main core of bench guys couldn't even put up double digits as a collective group.  Not good.

2.  Foul shots- Once again the Jazz struggled from the line.  Interestingly in this series the team that shoots the best from the line wins the game.  The Jazz only shot 56% from the line which is nearly 20% below their yearly average.  The Rockets on the other hand shot 79% from the line, 7% above their average. 

3.  Rafer Alston- Is he the X-factor?  The Rockets are 2-1 with him in the lineup.  He gave them an early boost from the 3 point line.  For the game he hit 4 of 7 from the behind the arc.    

4.  Tracy McGrady-  T-Mac actually showed up for the entire game, and even had 8 points in the 4th qtr.  He had 29 points as well as a handful of assists.  Overall he played a good game.

5.  Rockets D-fense-  I think Jazz fans are finally starting to realize that this is a good team.  There is a reason why they won 55 games on the year and ran off 22 in a row.  The Jazz averaged nearly 106 ppg throughout the season.  For the series they haven't even broke 100 points in any of the five games and have averaged 86 ppg all together.  The Rockets are a great defensive team.

This is my short list of reasons.  I think any if not all played a role into the loss the other night, and I am sure their are other factors as well that could make the list.

So how will the Jazz respond after such a bad loss? 

I am expecting a good game from the Jazz on Friday night.  We have talked on here before, and really have no evidence to back it up other than our own personal observations, but it seems the Jazz play well the next game following a bad loss.  I wouldn't expect anything less with them coming home to the ESA in front of the home crowd.

The Jazz played below average in Game 5, except for maybe Boozer who had 19 points and 10 rebounds.  I don't expect the team to underachieve in game 6.  I expect Carlos along with the rest of the guys to play at least to their average with a few guys going above average.  D-will is such a competitor that I wouldn't be surprised to see him come out with a chip on his shoulder and a point to prove.  Look for a good game from the boys in white and blue.

I am going to stick with my pre-series prediction.  The Jazz are going to take game 6  in front of a loud and boisterous crowd and end the Rockets season for the second year in a row.  Should be an exciting game to watch.

Bring on the Lake Show!