Brad Rock: Got a 'sixth sense' about these Utah Jazz
To be fair, I don't know what else the Jazz are supposed to do about facing the Lakers in the playoffs, besides put on a happy face.
Still, listening in at the team's practice Thursday, I felt like Haley Joel Osment in the film "The Sixth Sense."
The storyline goes like this: Osment's child psychologist, played by Bruce Willis, is murdered by a former patient, but doesn't know he's dead. He goes about his (after)life, earnestly unaware he's a ghost.
The twist in the story is that Osment is the only one who can see him.
So here are the Jazz, talking about beating the Lakers, discussing their new lease on life, and meanwhile I'm remembering Osment's chilling line from the film: "I see dead people."
Playoff basketball can hold surprises; teams do occasionally catch fire. But the Jazz are paired against the team with the second-best record in the NBA, a No. 1 seed against a No. 8. Has such an upset ever occurred? Yes, but only about as often as the birth of octuplets.
Two years ago, Golden State beat Dallas, four games to two. But the only other times an 8th seed won, it was in five-game series. New York defeated Miami in 1999 and Denver defeated Seattle in 1994.
That figures out to three No. 8 series wins in 50 tries — a 6 percent probability.
"That's fine," said guard Deron Williams. "We've just got to stay tight in the locker room and believe we can win. Just go try to shock the world."
That's exactly what happened when the Warriors beat Dallas in 2007. But the difference is the Jazz are as cold as an ex-wife's stare. Golden State won eight of its nine regular-season games in April of 2007. The '99 Knicks won six of their final eight, including a 12-point victory over Miami, their eventual first-round opponent.
The '94 Nuggets won five of their final seven and beat first-round opponent Seattle a couple of weeks before the regular season ended.
The Jazz have lost seven of their last nine, including a blowout loss to the Lakers.
This hasn't stopped the Jazz from taking a positive approach. No one has predicted victory, but none has said the team is history, either. Williams sounded a realistic note after Tuesday's loss in L.A., saying "until you go out there and do it, talk is cheap."
Thursday's interview period had a studied mix of somberness and optimism.
Andrei Kirilenko said, "Everybody knows the Lakers are very good, especially lately, but again, it's playoffs and in this league everybody can beat anybody."
Never mind the Jazz have lost nine straight at the Staples Center.
Mehmet Okur, whose status is questionable thanks to a hamstring injury, said, "New page for us. It's the playoffs. I mean, we all know they have home court, but if you go out and play even harder and try to execute the ball, and try to get this one game, you can come back and go from there."
Asked if they can turn things around overnight, Okur quickly replied, "Why not?" but corrected himself by adding, "Not overnight, I mean, we've been thinking about it a lot while it's been really going bad for us, but hopefully we gonna pick up in this second half of the season and play even harder. We'll see what happens."
Said CJ Miles: "It's playoff time. That's the nice thing about it. I wake up in the mornings and I'm pumped up enough as it is. Now it's the playoffs."
And finally, Williams: "Not many people give us a chance. That's fine. We'll take being the underdog. We're the 8th seed, so that's just the role we've got to play."
He added, "We just want to try to get a fresh start. The season's over with. Put that behind us ... and now anything can happen."
I'm not entirely sure he believes that, but he has to say it.
Asked by a TV reporter if they can embrace the underdog role, Williams said, "We can. It's definitely motivation. Every time you turn on the TV, they're saying a sweep, or Lakers in five or the Lakers in six, so we can use that and go out and believe in each other and get it done."
It's the way they should be talking.
But I'm having trouble concentrating on what they're saying.
I see dead people.
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