Another NBA season, another year for Jerry Sloan to not get the Coach of the Year award, even if the Jazz win the rest of their games. So if he can't have it, I think it should be between Houston's Rick Adelman and New Orleans' Byron Scott, with the edge to Adelman. He never won it for all those seasons he made Kings basketball matter, and now he's presided over the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. Some might argue for Boston's Doc Rivers, but I would say he was an ineffective coach until Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett showed up (Danny Ainge for GM of the year though).
The Utah Jazz may have clinched a losing road record, but they still have the best home record in the NBA, and 8 of their final 12 games are at home. I don't see them climbing to #3, barring a couple teams imploding at the same time, but with a mere 3 games separating spots 1-7, it's going to go down to the wire as far as seeding goes.
As far as Jazz fans booing Derek Fisher, here's my take. First, I wouldn't have booed. Second, if Fish had gone to any other team in the NBA, Jazz fans would have been okay with it. But he went to the much-hated Lakers. Now his press conference made it sound like he might not even play the 2007-2008 season, but no sooner was Larry Miller's signature dry on the release form, Fish was in talks with the Lakers. Wait, wasn't his doctor in New York? It just seemed fishy. And I have a medically fragile daughter of my own.
If the Lakers win the title this year, especially if they beat the Jazz in the playoffs on their way to that ring, all fond memories in SLC of Fisher entering the Golden State game in the second half and hitting that 3-pointer are erased. Instead it'll be Derek "The Traitor" Fisher. Again, if he'd gone to any other team in the NBA, no Jazz fan would have had a problem. "You're joining the Knicks? May the wind always be at your back."
Dallas, however, is in big trouble. They're 9-8 since Jason Kidd joined the team, and Dirk Nowitzki is out indefinitely. I don't see them doing much better than .500 until Dirk returns, with the real possibility that he doesn't make it back before the end of the season. This is Denver's chance to hop into the playoffs, and the really ironic thing about all of this is that even though they have a worse record, Devin Harris and the New Jersey Nets may make the playoffs, and Jason Kidd and the Dallas Mavericks may not.
Meanwhile, Phoenix has gone on a quiet seven-game win streak. As soon as someone notices, they'll lose, and it'll be another round of "Shaq was a mistake" columns.
Realistic West first-round matches that I hope happen:
1-Houston vs. 8-Denver
Even though he has no Yao, it would be T-Mac's year to finally get out of the first round. George Karl's in the hot seat.
2-LA Lakers vs. 7-Golden State
Can Pinky and the Twin Wounded Towers stop Baron, Stephen, and the run-n-gun Warriors? I hope not, and it'd be fun to watch.
3-Phoenix vs. 6-San Antonio
They made the trade for Shaq specifically to beat the Spurs, so let's have that match in the first round.
4-Utah vs. 5-New Orleans
Who wouldn't want to see the best two under-30 point guards in the NBA face off in the playoffs?
And would Cuban fire Avery Johnson if the Mavericks wind up in the lottery? I hope your first-round pick is protected this summer.