5 Fixes the Utah Jazz Should Make During the Stretch Run
Don't look now but the Utah Jazz have won seven of their last eight games. With their only loss against the Atlanta Hawks in a thrilling four-overtime game, the Jazz look like they are already becoming that team most fear they will be in a few years time.
In reality, the Jazz could make some serious noise come playoff time, especially if they find themselves in a home-court advantage scenario. That means this last stretch of the season is especially crucial for them.
Here are some minor fixes that the Utah Jazz should make during the final games of this NBA season to ensure themselves a good situation in April.
Rest Key Players
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This may sound like a crazy idea, especially since all the remaining games will be so crucial for the Jazz. But it couldn't hurt.
The Jazz have more than enough depth on their roster (especially in the frontcourt) and really can't risk a serious injury to either of their star big men. A loss of Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson for any game this season could be devastating to their playoff chances.
It's looking more and more like the Jazz will find themselves in the playoffs. Providing they can keep their winning ways alive, and because they have plenty of depth, Al and Paul should find themselves resting more as the regular season draws to a close. Plus, it wouldn't hurt the development of youngsters like Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter.
Free Alec Burks!
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Count me among the numerous Jazz fans who don't understand why Alec Burks doesn't see more time on the floor. The young guard is a stud and only continues to improve as the season wears on. Overall, he is so much more effective than C.J. Miles, who sees too many minutes and makes too many poor decisions on most nights.
It really doesn't make any sense. C.J. Miles is known for having poor shot selection and to be a bit selfish on the floor at times. He shows flashes of what he was supposed to be when drafted out of high school, but has never really lived up to his true potential as an NBA player.
But Alec Burks has a great shooting percentage for a rookie (45 percent compared to Miles' 38 percent) and is constantly getting things going (whether it be driving to the hoop, pulling down crucial rebounds or dishing it to teammates). He's a rookie that doesn't show much timidness, which is exactly what we need.
The numbers speak for themselves. Free Burks!
He's been playing about 20 minutes per game recently, but even that is too few for the rising star.
Be Patient and Take Good Shots
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The Jazz are virtually unstoppable when they are making consistent shots. As of today, they are 11-1 when shooting over 50 percent. If they can keep working through Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap (both of them have fantastic shooting percentages), then they will continue to dominate.
Their most effective form of scoring comes when working in the paint. This season, Utah's been downright atrocious from three-point range but that could change once Raja Bell finds his way back on the court. And it seems even Gordon Hayward has found his stroke recently from the arc.
But It's easier said than done. Keep the shots out of selfish hands (I'm talking about you Devin Harris/C.J. Miles) as much as possible and we might have a chance. The more they have the ball, the more our percentage drops.
Figure It out on the Road
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It's no secret that the Jazz are terrible when playing away from EnergySolutions Arena. This season, they are 8-17 on the road.
Obviously, that just isn't going to cut it. Not if we want to be taken seriously as a playoff contender. Unless by some miracle, it's almost a given that the Jazz won't have home-court advantage in the playoffs.
With eight of their last 16 games on the road, if they can't figure out a way to win then they will be on the outside looking in come playoff time.
It's downright imperative that the Jazz figure out a way to win in enemy territory or they won't last long in the playoffs.
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In reality, it was hard to come up with things that the Jazz need to do in order to earn good playoff seeding in April. They seem to have already figured it out themselves.
The biggest thing they could do is just continue whatever they've been doing. Utah has a good run going and shouldn't change anything major. Maybe kick C.J. Miles off the team for good?
Consistency is key. The guys also finally seem to have developed a good chemistry and are having fun together.
Al, Paul and Gordon Hayward are playing some of their best basketball lately with strong contributions from Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Jamaal Tinsley. Heck, we're even getting quality minutes from DeMarre Carroll and Devin Harris.
If Utah can maintain the solid play and keep in mind the other things I've mentioned (play Burks more, win some road games, give the youngsters more burn and shoot a solid field-goal percentage), then the Jazz could be a team that no one wants to face in the playoffs.
The West is wide open and the Jazz should find themselves there in the thick of things in the end.