Pump Up Music: Dizzee Rascal -- "Fix Up, Look Sharp"
The Big Picture: How did the Utah Jazz sneak their way to the three seed this year? That's where things stand going into tonight's game with the Bobcats. Really, nobody should be surprised that the same core that has been a perennial playoff squad would do the same thing this year. However, I also feel like no one takes them seriously as a title contender, because they don't have a single transcendent player, just several excellent ones.
There is one major thing the Jazz have going in their favor, their incredible continuity. Since Paul Millsap arrived in 2006-07, five players, Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko, and Millsap, have been the bedrock of their rotation. When a team has that many guys playing together year after year after year, they're almost certainly going to be better than a comparably-talented team that was slapped together far more recently.
Key to Victory: Our centers are questionable with a variety of injuries, but that's mostly okay, because the Jazz tend to run with unconventional big men. Okur is most comfortable facing up from twenty feet and beyond, and both Boozer and Millsap are fire hydrants on the blocks, solid and immovable, but short and not the most fleet of foot. I hate advocating such a thing, since everyone in the NBA is a tremendous physical specimen, but our guys can out-athlete them. Say we've got a lineup of Raymond Felton, Stephen Jackson, Gerald Wallace, Tyrus Thomas, and Boris Diaw. Every one of them can put the ball on the floor and drive to the rim. Four of them (not Free Money) can reasonably be trusted to attempt a three point shot. Every single one of those guys can run the break with authority.
You're not going to fluster a mature, experienced, group like the Jazz by grinding out precision possessions. Embrace being faster and bouncier.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Kyle Korver's father is named Kevin, and his three brothers are Klayton, Kaleb, and Kirk.