MidSeason NBA Breakdown of the Utah Jazz

UTAH JAZZ 25-27.What has changed: It didn't take long for the Jazz to rebound from the old Stockton/Malone team. Already they're vying for the postseason and with their cast of defensive characters have a shot.The Utah Jazz are a playoff team if not for their wide array of injuries. Kirilenko, McLeod, Giricek, Harpring and Boozer have combined to miss 100 games this season.

Right when Carlos Boozer came back they immediately lost Giricek and McLeod to injuries.Andrei Kirilenko is the does-it-all leader of the team who doesn't get enough press. His 15.

7 points, 8.4 RPG, 4.1 APG (team-high), 1.62 steals and 2.81 blocks are certainly All-Star worthy. Mehmet has also proven to be worth the money with his team high 17.

8 points. Journeyman Milt Palacio has settled into Utah with his penetration game and has taken the starting job over Deron Williams.Utah is a very good defensive team. They hold their opponents to just 92.

9 a game, are 8th in opponent's FG%, 3rd in rebounding, 3rd in blocks and 5th in allowing assists. They're defense has made them the only team to beat the Detroit Pistons twice this year.But for as good as this team is defensively they struggle just as mightily on offense. The Jazz score just 90 a game, are 28th in FG%, dead last in 3P% and 27th in turnovers. How is it possible for a team with stats that bad to be just a game back of the playoffs?.They do some things well.

It is the Jazz after all, so you can expect a lot of pick & rolls and set plays. They are in the top 10 in assists but they could be number one if they converted more of their shots. At times an outside shot is nearly impossible to come by. Okur is shooting just 36.7 from the 3-pt line, yet he's actually leading the team.Another issue isn't just what shots are being taken but who's taking them.

Kirilenko and Okur are good off-the-ball scorers but shouldn't be a team's go-to-guy. Really the Jazz are a team that you could plug a Vince Carter or T-Mac in and they'd be a great team. But a lot of the times it's scorer by committee and they suffer for it.Utah's defense is good enough that they should be able to topple the Lakers if they can just stay healthy.

They're reasonably deep and can match up to any team they face. But their offense is so deficient that that's what could ruin their season. If Boozer can make his way onto the starting lineup, then I like their chances of making the playoffs.

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By: David Pincus



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