Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Preseason Preview #3: Jazz @ Nuggets

(Boulder-CO) Tonight, the 2-0 Denver Nuggets host the division rival Utah Jazz in their third preseason game and finally we should see a Denver roster with both Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony active. 'Melo, who is listed as probable, missed each of the Nuggets first two preseason games in 2008 due to a 4th metacarpal contusion on his left hand while Iverson, who did not travel with the team to Indian Wells as a precautionary measure for a left knee contusion, are both listed as starters.

But with all kidding aside, and I'm looking in the direction of the guys over at True Blue Jazz, I do envy a few things about the Utah Jazz. They are the things that have separated the two team over the last few seasons and a lot of them trickle down from the man at the helm, Jerry Sloan.
For starters, I have to respect the discipline Utah plays with. A hot-dog play that doesn't connect for a team which Jerry Sloan is coaching almost surely means someone is getting a seat next the the coach for a good ear chewing. And as a result, the Jazz (with the tremendously heady and coachable play of their point guard, Deron Williams) are routinely in the green when it comes to turnovers created over those given away. Now, think about the Denver Nuggets... Sure, they connect on, and we have a funny way of remembering, an awful lot of jaw-dropping plays, but try and watch for all the instances where the fundamental play is missed in exchange for a potential highlight and how George Karl reacts. Typically, it's not with the same distaste as that of Jerry Sloan in similar situations and thus creates the difference in the two teams' demeanors.
My other main source of envy of the Utah Jazz is their fierce commitment to the defensive end first and foremost. The Nuggets play with a mentality of, "We'll just get another bucket on the other end to make up for the one we just gave up", whereas the Jazz seem to take the exact opposite approach. Utah seems to play with the mentality of, "We better stop them this possession because it's not a guarantee that we score on the next possession", and much of that is transcended from the way Jerry Sloan approached the game when he was a player. See, Sloan was never the most gifted athlete on the court in his day so he had to do all the little things to earn his playing time, stats, and respect from other players and it's with that same yeoman mentality that his teams approach the game.
So, with those two differences in tonight's game fresh in your mind. I would like to make a prediction about who wins. If the Nuggets' number of created turnovers outweighs the number they surrender Denver walks away with the W. Simple as that. Win the turnover battle, win the game.
And prove to me that there has indeed been a change made in the approach to the game of this year's team.
Go Nuggets!

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