After getting swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the 2011-12 postseason, the Utah Jazz had one goal in the off-season. Add veterans to a young basketball team to increase leadership and maturity. Twenty three games into this season, the Jazz are seeing their summer additions pay off.
Last year, this Jazz team couldn’t compete with the Spurs ability to execute down the stretch in a close game. This season, the Jazz took a late eight point deficit with four minutes remaining in stride, matched the Spurs execution, and prevailed on a Mo Williams dagger.
While defending the pick and roll has been an issue for the Jazz all season long, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap denied the Spurs any easy looks at the basket, and held Tim Duncan and Tony Parker to a combined five points over the final five minutes of the game. If the Jazz are able to keep Jefferson and Millsap on the floor to close games defensively, their offensive abilities will give the Jazz the opportunity to win a lot of games. Despite Mo Williams game winner, it was the combination of Al and Paul that provided the Jazz with clutch baskets to keep the game close.
The Jazz have won four games in a row, with both Millsap and Gordon Hayward emerging from their early season slumps, and Derrick Favors returning from injury, the Jazz finally appear to be gelling with a quarter of the season now behind them. Now comes the toughest test of the season for the Jazz, five of the next six contests are on the road, including games against former Jazzman Deron Williams, and the defending champion Miami Heat.
Mo Williams talks about his game winner: