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Utah Jazz (finally) showing true colors

January started off great for the Jazz as they turned their season around and, for a while there, looked like a legitimate playoff team in the west.  They were not only beating teams, but blowing them out and looking good doing it.  Many of the national experts were saying that it couldn’t last, and that the Jazz would soon come back to earth.  It turns out they were right.

The Jazz had an extremely soft schedule throughout most of the month, playing only a few back-to-backs and no back-to-back-to-backs at all during the month.  On top of that, they played only three road games the entire month.  Also, almost every team them played were either below .500 teams or were missing key players from their lineup.

Paul Millsap was playing unbelievably well throughout the month, which isn’t too surprising.  I expect him to be a very effective player throughout his career despite his lack of height at his position.  He can shoot, handle the ball, and gets a lot of steals.  He works harder than anyone on the team.

Josh Howard was really hitting his stride before he remembered that he’s injury-prone and sat out for several games.  He’s back now, but is clearly not 100%, and probably never will be for very long.  C.J. Miles shows flashes, but overall takes bad shots and isn’t a great team player.

During their win streak, the Jazz were taking some very difficult shots and hitting them.  They did get a lot of points in the paint, which is promising, but they were also taking a ton of long-range 2’s, the worst place to try and score on the court.  The level at which they were hitting those shots could not be sustained, especially since the Jazz lack any great shooters on their team. 

Their schedule didn’t get much more difficult towards the end of the month, but they started loosing games anyway because they came back to earth.  The shots stopped falling, teams clogged the middle and dared them to shoot from the outside.  Millsap and Jefferson (who does not know how to pass out of a double-team to save his life) have a much harder time down low, and everything falls apart. 

On top of that, the Jazz were getting very lucky because a lot of teams were missing their three-pointers.  People were crediting the Jazz defense (which has improved greatly over Jerry Sloan’s hack n’ grab, no help philosophy), when in reality is was really more luck and fatigue on the other team’s part.

In February, the Jazz play nine road games and six at home.  I’m betting things don’t go as well for them next month.

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