With 10 teams over .500 and on pace for 45-50 wins, one team flirting with .500 (Sacramento), and the trade deadline coming up, this will probably be the most intense two months of NBA basketball we have ever seen. Obviously, the West will work itself out, but as it sits right now the Jazz would be playing the Lakers WITHOUT home court (which we all know the Jazz usually need...last year being an exception). We would get a 1-8 match up of Phoenix and Golden State which G.S. could easily win right now even with the Shaq trade by Phoenix. Denver and N.O. (A.I. vs. C3po, Martin vs. West, Camby vs. Chandler, Mello vs. Peja... ridiculous). Last but not least, a fight for the state of Texas between S.A. and Dallas. This probably won't be the way things end up obviously, but its fun to think about.

Oh and by the way, the hottest team in the West right now (Houston ...7 wins in a row and 9 of their last 10) wouldn't even make the playoffs.

There have been conversations between basketball fans that the West should get ten teams this year and the East should only get six. This would be fine by me; the East would then only have one team with a losing record in the playoffs.

After talking with Bryce and Doug online last night, there could be a West team that is ten games over .500 NOT make the playoffs with a record of 46-36 or 47-35. The Jazz have 30 games left counting Wednesday's game against Seattle. Of those 30 games, 8 are with teams in the West with a higher seed (Phoenix, Dallas, LA, NO, and SA); 4 are with playoff potential teams in the West (Golden State, Houston, Denver, Portland); 9 are against the basement teams in the West (Minnesota, Seattle, Memphis, LAC); 2 are against the two best teams in the East (Detroit at home and Boston away); the remaining 7 games are against the crappy teams in the East, (Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Toronto, New Jersey, Milwaukee, Washington).

This being said, I think the Jazz playoff run will come down to three things.
1. We have to beat the teams that we SHOULD beat. We have 16 games left against "lesser opponents" and hopefully we can avoid pulling another Christmas Road Trip.

2. Road trips. These are another key to the Jazz making a deep playoff run. For the remaining 30 games, only twice do we have consecutive road games. March 11-15 we play four games in five days against the East and on April 8-10 we play @ NO and @ Dallas.

3. These two games at New Orleans and at Dallas are part of the third and most important point, which is the last two weeks of the season. Besides those two games the Jazz play SA twice, Denver and Houston. This is a brutal part of the schedule, but if we keep focused, I think we can perform well.

The West is at the point where if a team loses three in a row, they could go from fourth to eighth or even out of the playoffs. I realize that this is all just hype, but if the Jazz want to make the playoffs and go deep, they need to stay hot and continue to play well over the next two months. As Bolerjack would say, "Booner, it's time to buckle up!" (especially for teams in the Wild Wild West).

- Spencer