SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz rolled off their sixth straight win and tied a franchise record of 20 straight home victories by defeating Cleveland 114-75 Monday. What can be taken from such a lopsided victory?
Let's go the comments ...
"The Jazz did what they were supposed to. Win Cleveland big." — Guyin801
The Jazz were nearly 20-point favorites on Monday. So, yes, a blowout win was expected. But something that wasn't expected: a 20-game home-winning streak. Even a team that historically is far better at home than on the road doesn't have those too often.
The NBA has the widest home-court advantage among the major North American sports, with the home team winning somewhere between 56% to 58% of all games in a given season. In the playoffs, it's an even bigger difference, with the home team winning 65% of all games since 1984 (we didn't include the bubble stats here).
While the numbers alone seem like home court plays a big factor, it really is more about the teams playing. This league isn't really prone to upsets. Heading into the Orlando bubble, No. 1 seeds won about 93% of first-round series since 1984; same with No. 2 seeds. No. 3 seeds, meanwhile, had won about 75% of the time.
The bubble took away the home-court advantage and, yet, nothing changed with the top three teams in each conference advancing to the second round.
In general, the best home records usually correspond to the best teams. The only exceptions: Denver and Utah, which both play at high altitudes. There's also a possible factor of tougher travel leading up to games — Denver and Salt Lake City are pretty far from other NBA teams.
It's been proven the Jazz have gotten a home-court boost in the past, and the era of the last long home winning streak was the perfect example. In 2007-08, Utah won 19 straight games at home. In the midst of that were plenty of losses on the road. That was how things went for the Jazz of Deron Williams-Carlos Boozer era.
- 2006-07: Home record: 31-10; road record: 20-21
- 2007-08: Home record: 37-4; road record: 17-24
- 2008-09: Home record: 33-8; road record: 15-26
- 2009-10: Home record: 32-9; road record: 21-20
If the Jazz could have played every game in the playoffs in Utah (especially in 2008), there likely would be a championship banner hanging up in the Vivint Arena rafters.
The good news: The current Jazz team isn't as home reliant. Utah actually opened the season 9-3 on the road, and 15-9 for the season away from Salt Lake City — the third-best winning percentage in the league. That falls more in line with some other Utah teams with gaudy home records — ones that ended up playing for championships.
During the 1996-97 season, when the team went to the NBA Finals for the first time, the Jazz were 38-3 at home and 26-15 on the road. The next year, they went 36-5 at home and 26-15 on the road — that was when the other 20-game home winning streak began and extended to the 1998-99 season.
"It's a special feeling honestly, to be able to know coming into the building like we have here at Vivint that we have an advantage," Mike Conley said about the historic stretch. "We always feel like that. Even when the stands are not completely full, we feel like we still have some of the best fans in the world."
"It was a good win because the Jazz didn't play down to the Cavs' level of play. — chimp
There's no question the Jazz are better than a depleted Cleveland team — a lot better. Some of Utah's big names struggled on Monday: Bojan Bogdanovic had just 3 points, Jordan Clarkson was 3-of-14 from the field and Mike Conley had just 2 points in the first half. Yet the Jazz had a 20-plus point lead in the second quarter and led by as many as 41 points in the game.
The Jazz don't need everyone to be clicking to roll to easy wins, especially with the level Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have been playing as of late. But they have a tendency of not closing out early routs. You can look to the first game back from the All-Star Game against a similarly depleted Houston team, and even Friday against Memphis. In both of those games, they had big 20-plus point leads but had to sweat out some tight moments in the fourth quarter.
"When you're up by that much, it's tough to stay locked in — and we've been culprits of doing that a few times," Mitchell said.
That was seen for a short time Monday, but a very short one.
In rapid succession, Conley got beat on a back cut, then Royce O'Neale and then Mitchell followed suit. Those three mental errors came after the Jazz climbed out to what felt like an insurmountable lead; but, to them, that made no difference.
"I think that's really where our mind has to stay locked in on that point, and it can't happen," Mitchell said. "We fixed it, we cleaned it up. Don't get me wrong, we had plenty of really good defensive possessions."
While the Cavs are sitting near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, they do have some impressive wins on the season. Cleveland has 17 victories; four of those have come against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Cavs beat the Philadelphia 76ers twice and beat the Brooklyn Nets both times on a back-to-back set. Rosters have changed and different players have been out, but it's hard to find any combination when Cleveland should have been favored in those games.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder has always preached developing habits. If you don't make the right read or pass up by 30, maybe you won't make it in a close game, too. So, at least, from that standpoint, Utah showed some growth against a team it was supposed to clobber.
"The habits are the same, regardless of who's in the game, regardless of the score, who you're playing," Snyder said. "Sometimes when you get a lead on teams, you have a tendency to stop sharing the ball quite as much, and that's something I thought we did a good job of. We kept playing the right way."