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Utah Jazz

Jazz Path to the Playoffs

David Locke

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By Jake Snelson

This has been an up and down season for the Jazz. Things didn’t start the way the team wanted, however a healthy Rudy Gobert and the top ROY candidate have helped put things back on track. The Jazz went into the All-Star Break on a 11-game winning streak but haven’t looked like the same team since. Not only have the Jazz struggled, but the Western teams in front of them have looked good, winning the games they need to win and distancing themselves from the Jazz.

Making the playoffs won’t be easy, but it is possible. Here is a quick breakdown of what the rest of the regular season look like for the Utah Jazz, and what they need to do to secure a playoff spot.

THE TANKERS

Memphis X2

Sacramento X2

Lakers X2

Atlanta

Orlando

Phoenix

Dallas

Simply put, these teams should be more upset if they win then the Jazz will be if they lose. Utah is more talented and more determined to win than any team on this list. It may be unfair to say that anything outside of a sweep against these teams is a disappointment, however, with the playoff picture getting murkier every day, the Jazz need to take care of business against these teams.

THE TOSS UPS

Golden State X2

Indiana

Detroit

Boston

Jazz have played each of these teams once already this season, and outside of the fluky Pacers game, Utah has been successful against all of them. These are the matchups that could go either way. While it’s unlikely the Jazz sweep the Warriors this season, there is a chance that Golden State will be resting their guys for the second to last game of the season. The Celtics game will be emotionally charged, whether or not Gordon Hayward is in the building. Indiana and Detroit are in a playoff race of their own. Win or lose, each of these matchups will be give us an idea of how much this Jazz team has grown.

THE PLAYOFF RACERS

Minnesota X2

New Orleans

San Antonio

Clippers

Portland

This is where it gets REAL interesting. The playoff race is 10 teams deep, and only 2 of those teams are sure bets to make the postseason (Houston & Golden State). It may be too early to say every game is a “must win” for the Jazz, but even after their incredibly run, the Jazz still sit in the 10th spot, on the outside looking in. The Jazz have a chance to win the tiebreaker against the Clippers, Pelicans and Trailblazers, and in a tough western conference race, there will be little room for error.

Clinching a second playoff berth in a row would be huge for the Jazz. It would be a message to the team, and the league, that things are trending in the right direction, as well as a possible deciding factor in the Rookie of the Year race. It is a fun time to be a Jazz fan, and every game for the rest of the season is a must watch.

David Locke enters his ninth year as the radio play-by-play voice of the Utah Jazz, having spent the majority of his career in radio in Salt Lake City and Seattle. In the summer of 2016, Locke created the Locked on Podcast Network which has podcast daily bite sized podcasts for every NBA and NFL team. A native of Palo Alto, Calif., Locke graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a degree in Political Science and Sociology. Locke and his wife have a son and a daughter.

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