Ben Golliver and Michael Pina open with a rundown of their biggest beefs with the 2021 NBA All-Star selections. Was Khris Middleton robbed? Was Devin Booker a worthy injury replacement for Anthony Davis? What about Bam Adebayo? Did the coaches "Do it for the gram" with this year's selections? From there, they shift to a discussion of the Utah Jazz's blowout win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. On a scale of one to 10, how likely are the Jazz to win the title? How should the Lakers respond in the wake of their losing streak without Anthony Davis? What are the telltale signs of fatigue for LeBron James? From there the guys double back to take listener reaction to the Timberwolves' firing of Ryan Saunders and close with a more detailed comparison of the 2020 Nets offense to the 2017 Warriors' attack.
Ben Golliver: I understand Jazz fans who look at that game and say, Hey, this wasn't about the Lakers crumbling, this was about us rolling them over, just like we're rolling everybody over and kind of demanding and asking for that respect. And honestly, I think that's totally fair right now. If I gave you a one to 10 scale, Michael, and I said, one, is the Utah Jazz will not be the NBA champions no matter what, and 10, is the Utah Jazz are guaranteed to be the 2021 NBA champions. What's your number on that scale? Because I think over the course of the last five weeks, I probably have gone from like a three or maybe even a 2.5, but now I'm kind of creeping up. I'm flirting with like a five or six right now.
Michael Pina: Wow.
Golliver: I know, and this is why I'm joking that we're three weeks away from just saying they're never going to lose again. Because night after night they're the only team that's consistent, locked in, disciplined and together. And it's a weird year. And I know teams are going to definitely get back healthy. And there's some really interesting teams that match up well with them. But I don't know, I'm bordering flirting with this idea that maybe they're the favorites right now.
Pina: Well, it is late February, so congratulations, if you're the favorite.
Golliver: Now is the time to get in the hype before the inevitable turn around, is that what you're saying?
Pina: I mean, there's a lot of basketball to be played for sure.
Golliver: O.K., fair enough. So where are you on this scale?
Pina: I think I'm at a four.
Golliver: That's very restrained, I respect that. That's probably where I should be. So I'm going to tip my hat to you. Let me ask you, what holds them back? Like just real quick, if you're saying what are the quote-unquote weaknesses or exploitable holes? Or what are the things you think, if they do crash and burn? Everybody has the whole, oh, they're just like the 2015 Hawks comeback. What are the things that are going to keep them from getting where they want to go?
Pina: For me it's almost the same every year and it's ... do you have someone who's big enough on the wing to guard LeBron, Kawhi, Luka, whoever. You know, those big beefy forwards who just are so dominant for the opposing team's offense. Is Royce O'Neale that guy? I don't know, he's kind of gotten tossed around a little bit this season by LeBron, by Kawhi, by that type of player. So when you go into the playoffs I think you need someone like that who ... not shut that person down because no one can shut LeBron down, but guard him in a way that really lets everybody else stay at home where you don't have to panic and double, and all that. So that's my big—my biggest concern easily with the Jazz.
Golliver: What other ones are there? So I want your top three because I'm right there with you. Another one that I've got would be Rudy Gobert matchups in the playoffs. The Jazz fans love to say, Oh it's an overstated point; he actually holds up a lot better in certain situations than he gets credit for. Everybody just focuses on that one highlight of Steph Curry spinning him around and they try to say he's not a playoff defender. But Chris Paul sniping him from the midrange in a playoff series. And there's been some other series where he's had some trickier matchups. And so I would include him on this list, even though he's their best player and the most important player, just in terms of have they figured out well enough how to utilize his strengths and cover his weaknesses? Do they have the right personnel mix this year, which they didn't have in previous postseasons to get that done? I would have that as one of my top three. What else would you have on your list?
Pina: I had that on my list as well. I think the Utah Jazz are very happy that James Harden is no longer in the conference, because he and Steph I guess, are just the peak matchup nightmares in that regard because of the pull-up three. But I actually think that Gobert will be a positive on the defensive end throughout whatever happens in the playoffs with them. I don't see any matchup that can totally embarrass them or him. But my other one is Mike Conley's health. Mike Conley is getting up there in age a little bit. He tends to miss time with little knickknack injuries, you know, pulled hamstring here, whatever it may be. So I just think that he needs to be operating at full throttle for this team to actually have a chance to win the championship. If he's not 100%, or as close to 100% as anyone can be heading into the playoffs, then I think that they are a much lesser team.