I hate to give in to my fatalistic tendencies, but I’m pretty sure the Jazz are finished in the NBA playoffs. Sure, they could win Game 5 in San Antonio (a place they haven’t won in this century) and force a Game 6 back in the Fallout Shelter, but sooner or later they will lose again to the Spurs. They just don’t have the horsepower to take three in a row from Duncan, Parker and Ginobli.
Not that any of this is a stretch to write. I am not aware of a single media person, national or local, that would seriously give the Jazz a shot at making history and coming back from their current 3-1 deficit. In fact, after the debacle of game four, every single person on ESPN seemed to find it laughable to think that San Antonio wouldn’t close things out in Game 5. I mean that literally – the anchors and commentators were laughing at the very idea. I know I am being the stereotypical small market fan by writing this, but I found it irritating and even a bit disrespectful. Ignore the breakout season and forget the playoff victories against Houston and Golden State: The Jazz have become a laughing stock.
Of course, now my anger has dissipated (somewhat), and I can consider things in a slightly more rational light. For starters, I don’t really think the ESPN talking heads were trying to discredit the accomplishments of the Utah Jazz with their scorn, but rather reacting to a strong win by the favored team. I also happen to agree that the Jazz will lose Game 5, but I’m certainly not laughing about it.
Also, I am making an effort to remember what I like about the San Antonio Spurs rather than wallowing in the bitterness that came from watching them shoot 25 free throws in the fourth quarter while the Jazz shot two. I can respect the argument that Utah wasn’t as aggressive as San Antonio in the fourth quarter, but that level of disparity only comes with truly one-sided officiating.
I always dislike blaming the officials for losses, but Utah was within a point and rolling when the third quarter ended, and suddenly San Antonio began a relentless march to the free throw line. Yes, the Jazz lost their composure and started complaining, but it’s impossible to disconnect the influence of the officials in the fourth quarter. Even the national media guys were saying things like: “There were some questionable calls, but the Jazz have to play through it.” I agree with the point, but that doesn’t make it any less disheartening when it happens to your team.
So, what are the odds of the Utah Jazz going into the AT&T Center for Game 5 and shooting twice as many free throws as the Spurs, including an overwhelming, backbreaking margin in the fourth quarter? Ten Gazillion to One? Do any of the laughing sportscasters on ESPN want to comment on that? Credit the Spurs for playing hard and keeping their composure (although it’s pretty easy to do when all the breaks are going your way). Theirs was a legitimate win by a superior team, without question. But you have to question the officiating when the road team makes more free throws than field goals in Game 4 of a Conference Final playoff game.
In further news, the Utah Blaze ended their long losing streak, Real Salt Lake still hasn’t won a match, and the Salt Lake Bees continue to play baseball. We talk more about these things in the podcast, of course, but only a little.
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