The fourth and final game of the season series between the Nuggets and Jazz is tonight in Utah. The game is not quite meaningless as the Jazz are still gunning for home court advantage in the first round, and perhaps beyond, and Denver has yet to wrap up a playoff birth.
To get us in the mood for tonight's conflagration I asked Mitch from My Utah Jazz some questions and he was nice enough to answer.
My answers to his questions can be found by clicking here.
Pickaxe and Roll: With the Jazz playing much better on the road over the past couple of months are you concerned at all about their ability to win on the road in the playoffs? How important is it for them to have home court advantage for
at least one round?
My Utah Jazz: The crazy thing about the Jazz's road loss schedule, is that the VAST majority of them came to non-playoff teams. The Jazz have actually played very well against teams in the Playoff's and especially Western Conference Playoff teams.
Yes we are worried. Some of our readers have wanted Larry Miller to go to local high schools in opposing cities and give out 50 tickets and Jazz shirts and have them come cheer for our boys at the game. Perhaps this will help them get a taste of the home cooking.
We need home court. I don't think we'll get it. If things go the way they are, and we draw the Rockets for the first round, that will be a confidence booster because we know the Jazz can win there.
Poor Rockets. Everyone wants to pay them. Even the 8th seeds are wishing they could find themselves in Houston.
PA&R: After last season's success, would anything less than an NBA finals appearance be a disappointment?
MUJ: Good question. It would depend on which Jazz fan you ask. You are asking a die hard fan. So yes, I do feel that this team has the talent to go all the way. Anything less than a visit to the finals could be looked at as a disappointment. However, making it to the WCF would sting much less than a first or second round exit. That would be brutal.
The current playoff match ups really favor the Jazz in my opinion. They can beat Houston in the first round. Then they should technically get New Orleans or Denver (crossing my fingers) in the second round. The Jazz play well against those two teams. The most difficult match up would come in the WCF against the Lake show or San Antonio ("They are our daddies" -Pedro Martinez)
PA&R: We have all heard about the Kyle Korver trade being a catalyst for Utah's surge up the standings, but has the resurgence of Mehmet Okur been the reason the Jazz has been so successful over the second half of the season?
MUJ: Most definitely. If you look at Okur's numbers, he has raised his PPG and shooting percentage every single month this season. He is peaking at the perfect time. I personally think he is as good if not better at the long ball than Dirk. The guy doesn't show much emotion, but I think he knows when he is hot and when he needs to pass it off.
The biggest change in his game has been his willingness to drive to the basket. This is a Memo we have not seen before. It's new and shiny and most defenses aren't used to it. Perhaps the scouting report will change on him.
PA&R: After the blowout the last time the Nuggets visited SLC, how shocked on a scale of 1-100 would you be if Denver won this game with 100 being most shocked?
MUJ: Probably around an 80. The Jazz shoot the ball so well in the ESA that even the most potent offenses in the league can't keep up. The pessimistic 20 on that scale come from the fact the Denver is such a roller coaster. They have more athleticism than almost anyone in the league. I honestly think their coaching is their let down right now. They need someone who can provide some leadership and they would be a
perennial contender (assuming they resign AI).
Game Notes from MUJ: I really don't like the McNuggets. We did a poll on My Utah Jazz back in February asking who was the biggest Jazz rival. Denver won hands down (surprising to some). I know it's chewing sawdust, but I hate the chest pounding, jersey popping, headband thumping, "don't snitch" attitude. That is what makes this rivalry so great. They are truly the Anti-Jazz. Everything about these teams is opposite (except that Utah totally ripped off the baby blue jerseys).
Funny note from MUJ: One of our bloggers works with a girl who was at a club here in the SLC after a Denver game last season. Some guys were hitting on her. They ended up being some Nuggets players. They asked her to come back to their table. She saw this guy with corn rows sitting there and she innocently said "Hi, what's your name?" (Keep in mind she is no
sports guru). The gentlemen on the other side of the table gets upset and says, staring at her with a disgusted look, "Melo...". And she answered, "oh, nice to meet you Melo". She had no idea until after she told the story and someone told her who it was. Proof that Utah girls live in their own world.
Prediction from MUJ: Jazz 114, McNuggets 98.
Flagrant fouls on Harpring by McNuggets players: 2
Thanks to Mitch for the insight. I guess not every Jazz fan is completely unable to be objective about their team.
Make sure to leave your thoughts and comments before, during and after the game. We have had some nice conversation the past few games so make sure you are a part of it.