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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Pizza’s Deliveries: How ’bout them Jazz?

By Tony Pizza

You may not immediately recognize the name Dan Roberts, but if you’ve ever been to a Utah Jazz basketball game, I’ll bet dollars to pesos you’d recognize his voice.

Among other things, Roberts has made the phrase, “Bring ’em on out! How ’bout this Jazz?” famous.

Frankly, Dan Roberts, at this point I just don’t know how to answer that.

I feel like saying, “Shame on the Utah Jazz for tricking me into believing this team still has the ability to make a run deep into the playoffs.”

The problem is, I’m not so sure that won’t still happen. Sure, the Jazz have lost their last five games, including two at home, since clinching the Northwest Division. Could it be that the Jazz are just on cruise control until the playoffs? There is that possibility. But that still doesn’t explain how you blow 20-point leads to two sub-.500 teams, and then flat out lose by 20 to another team that has lost more than it has won.

Not exactly the way a team wants to limp into the playoffs, eh?

The problem with the Jazz is that the defensive hole they have had all season is starting to get exposed. And the team has stopped compensating for its defensive deficiencies on the offensive side of the floor.

The fact that every opposing shooting guard has practically salivated ?at the potential of scoring 35-plus points that night during warm-ups, and then has his way with the Jazz for the next 48 minutes of ?action, is hardly top-secret information.

It’s also not a secret that the Jazz are extremely vulnerable from beyond the three-point line because their players have to play more help defense in the post than the United States does on foreign soil.

What is surprising is that teams have been making the Jazz look like they just bought all 12 discs of the DVD series “How to Not Play Defense and Still Earn a Big Fat Paycheck.” It’s as if Mike D’Antoni and Don Nelson were going door-to-door selling defensive schemes in Salt Lake City and they just happened upon Jerry Sloan’s doorstep and found an eager buyer.

Unfortunately, the Jazz can’t survive on the nearly unstoppable tandem of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer coupled with Mehmet Okur from the perimeter. Not even Matt Harpring chipping in 31 points has helped the Jazz get over the hump against teams fighting for playoff spots. So what’s going to happen to the Jazz in the playoffs?

Frankly, I’m just happy to see the Jazz going to the postseason. This team is young and guys like Williams, Boozer, Okur, Paul Millsap and Ronnie Brewer all need a substantial taste of the playoff atmosphere.

Derek Fisher, Harpring and Sloan can tell those guys how different the playoffs are until the cows come home, but the only way they’re really going to know is from first-hand experience.

I’m excited for the Jazz to witness what real defense is, and I’m eager to see them take the necessary licks it’s going to take to make this a better team.

The Jazz might have a hard time getting out of the first round — especially if they don’t reclaim the home-court advantage before the playoffs start — but the idea behind a seven-game series is that the better team will almost always emerge. And I’m also willing to bet dollars to pesos the Jazz have that edge over the Houston Rockets no matter where the games are played.

And depending on how far the Jazz can separate themselves from the current funk they’re in, I don’t think Utah is a team Dallas, San Antonio or Phoenix wants to face in the later rounds of the playoffs.

But now is the time for the Jazz to wake up and show everybody what has made this team so special during the 2006-2007 season. Then at least fans will be able to properly respond the next time Roberts asks, “Bring ’em on out — HOW ABOUT THIS JAZZ?”

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